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Duke of Buckingham
05-28-12, 06:50 AM
May 28, 1961:
Appeal for Amnesty campaign launches

On this day in 1961, the British newspaper The London Observer publishes British lawyer Peter Benenson's article "The Forgotten Prisoners" on its front page, launching the Appeal for Amnesty 1961--a campaign calling for the release of all people imprisoned in various parts of the world because of the peaceful expression of their beliefs.

Benenson was inspired to write the appeal after reading an article about two Portuguese students who were jailed after raising their glasses in a toast to freedom in a public restaurant. At the time, Portugal was a dictatorship ruled by Antonio de Oliveira Salazar. Outraged, Benenson penned the Observer article making the case for the students' release and urging readers to write letters of protest to the Portuguese government. The article also drew attention to the variety of human rights violations taking place around the world, and coined the term "prisoners of conscience" to describe "any person who is physically restrained (by imprisonment or otherwise) from expressing…any opinion which he honestly holds and does not advocate or condone personal violence."

"The Forgotten Prisoners" was soon reprinted in newspapers across the globe, and Berenson's amnesty campaign received hundreds of offers of support. In July, delegates from Belgium, the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Germany, Ireland and Switzerland met to begin "a permanent international movement in defense of freedom of opinion and religion." The following year, this movement would officially become the human rights organization Amnesty International.

Amnesty International took its mandate from the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which holds that all people have fundamental rights that transcend national, cultural, religious and ideological boundaries. By the 10th anniversary of the Appeal for Amnesty 1961, the organization it spawned numbered over 1,000 voluntary groups in 28 countries, with those figures rising steadily. In 1977, the organization received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Amnesty International owes much of its success in promoting human rights to its impartiality and its focus on individuals rather than political systems. Today, Amnesty International continues to work toward its goals of ensuring prompt and fair trials for all prisoners, ending torture and capital punishment and securing the release of "prisoners of conscience" around the globe.
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May 28, 1987:
Matthias Rust lands his plane in Red Square

Matthias Rust, a 19-year-old amateur pilot from West Germany, takes off from Helsinki, Finland, travels through more than 400 miles of Soviet airspace, and lands his small Cessna aircraft in Red Square by the Kremlin. The event proved to be an immense embarrassment to the Soviet government and military.

Rust, described by his mother as a "quiet young man...with a passion for flying," apparently had no political or social agenda when he took off from the international airport in Helsinki and headed for Moscow. He entered Soviet airspace, but was either undetected or ignored as he pushed farther and farther into the Soviet Union. Early on the morning of May 28, 1987, he arrived over Moscow, circled Red Square a few times, and then landed just a few hundred yards from the Kremlin. Curious onlookers and tourists, many believing that Rust was part of an air show, immediately surrounded him. Very quickly, however, Rust was arrested and whisked away. He was tried for violating Soviet airspace and sentenced to prison. He served 18 months before being released.

The repercussions in the Soviet Union were immediate. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev sacked his minister of defense, and the entire Russian military was humiliated by Rust's flight into Moscow. U.S. officials had a field day with the event--one American diplomat in the Soviet Union joked, "Maybe we should build a bunch of Cessnas." Soviet officials were less amused. Four years earlier, the Soviets had been harshly criticized for shooting down a Korean Airlines passenger jet that veered into Russian airspace. Now, the Soviets were laughingstocks for not being able to stop one teenager's "invasion" of the country. One Russian spokesperson bluntly declared, "You criticize us for shooting down a plane, and now you criticize us for not shooting down a plane."
http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/thisdayintech/2009/05/plane.jpg


May 28, 1986:
The decision in a well-known securities fraud case is upheld

The U.S. Court of Appeals upholds the conviction of writer R. Foster Winans for securities fraud. Winans, author of the "Heard on the Street" column for the Wall Street Journal, entered into a scheme with two brokers at Kidder Peabody to give them advance information about his column. The brokers, Kenneth Felis and Peter Brant, made $700,000 by trading stocks that Winans touted in the newspaper; Winans and his lover, David Carpenter, received only $31,000 in kickbacks.

Winans began writing "Heard on the Street" in 1982 and, though successful, was having difficulty leading the lavish New York City lifestyle that he desired. In October 1983, Felis and Brant persuaded him to leak the contents of upcoming columns so that they could take advantage of the price changes that typically occurred after a stock had been written about in the nation's leading financial publication.

It wasn't long before executives at Kidder Peabody noticed a strange coincidence between the Felis account and the stocks discussed in "Heard on the Street." With the SEC already investigating, Winans admitted the scheme in March 1984 and was immediately fired by the Wall Street Journal. Winans, Carpenter, and Felis were indicted and convicted of securities fraud. Winans received an 18-month prison sentence.

Although the amounts of money involved were relatively small, the Winans case became a public symbol of the widespread greed, corruption, and win-at-all-costs mentality of Wall Street that prevailed in the 1980s.

Winans revealed all in his 1986 book Trading Secrets, which sold well. The New York Crime Victims Board initially disputed his right to the profits under a law that prevents criminals from profiting from their crimes, but the law was eventually overturned. Later, Winans told people, "I like what [the conviction] has done to my life, if you can believe it."
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May 28, 1965:
Mine explosion kills hundreds in India

Methane gas causes a mine explosion near Dharbad, India, that kills 375 people and injures hundreds more on this day in 1965. The blast was so powerful that even workers on the surface of the mine were killed.

The mine was located 225 miles northwest of Calcutta near the town of Dharbad and employed hundreds of miners. On this day, a spark ignited methane gas in the mine and caused a huge explosion. Coal dust was sent miles into the air and an entire section of the large mine completely collapsed. Two hundred and seventy-five miners never made it out alive. The explosion also killed approximately 100 workers who were above ground but near the mine and destroyed several homes in the area. A fire in the mine shaft raged for many days after the blast.

Methane gas is a common hazard in mining. It is lighter than air so it usually rises out of the mine shaft. However, significant pockets often get trapped underground and, when it combines with coal dust, the gas is extremely combustible. Typically, mines use gas detectors to make sure the levels of methane gas are not dangerous. They also add rock dust (finely ground limestone) to mix with the coal dust to make it non-explosive. However, the state of this technology in 1965 was far from foolproof and failed to prevent this disaster.
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Duke of Buckingham
05-28-12, 11:21 PM
May 29, 1953:
Hillary and Tenzing reach Everest summit

At 11:30 a.m. on May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa of Nepal, become the first explorers to reach the summit of Mount Everest, which at 29,035 feet above sea level is the highest point on earth. The two, part of a British expedition, made their final assault on the summit after spending a fitful night at 27,900 feet. News of their achievement broke around the world on June 2, the day of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation, and Britons hailed it as a good omen for their country's future.

Mount Everest sits on the crest of the Great Himalayas in Asia, lying on the border between Nepal and Tibet. Called Chomo-Lungma, or "Mother Goddess of the Land," by the Tibetans, the English named the mountain after Sir George Everest, a 19th-century British surveyor of South Asia. The summit of Everest reaches two-thirds of the way through the air of the earth's atmosphere--at about the cruising altitude of jet airliners--and oxygen levels there are very low, temperatures are extremely cold, and weather is unpredictable and dangerous.

The first recorded attempt to climb Everest was made in 1921 by a British expedition that trekked 400 difficult miles across the Tibetan plateau to the foot of the great mountain. A raging storm forced them to abort their ascent, but the mountaineers, among them George Leigh Mallory, had seen what appeared to be a feasible route up the peak. It was Mallory who quipped when later asked by a journalist why he wanted to climb Everest, "Because it's there."

A second British expedition, featuring Mallory, returned in 1922, and climbers George Finch and Geoffrey Bruce reached an impressive height of more than 27,000 feet. In another attempt made by Mallory that year, seven Sherpa porters were killed in an avalanche. (The Sherpas, native to the Khumbu region, have long played an essential support role in Himalayan climbs and treks because of their strength and ability to endure the high altitudes.) In 1924, a third Everest expedition was launched by the British, and climber Edward Norton reached an elevation of 28,128 feet, 900 vertical feet short of the summit, without using artificial oxygen. Four days later, Mallory and Andrew Irvine launched a summit assault and were never seen alive again. In 1999, Mallory's largely preserved body was found high on Everest--he had suffered numerous broken bones in a fall. Whether or not he or Irvine reached the summit remains a mystery.

Several more unsuccessful summit attempts were made via Tibet's Northeast Ridge route, and after World War II Tibet was closed to foreigners. In 1949, Nepal opened its door to the outside world, and in 1950 and 1951 British expeditions made exploratory climbs up the Southeast Ridge route. In 1952, a Swiss expedition navigated the treacherous Khumbu Icefall in the first real summit attempt. Two climbers, Raymond Lambert and Tenzing Norgay, reached 28,210 feet, just below the South Summit, but had to turn back for want of supplies.

Shocked by the near-success of the Swiss expedition, a large British expedition was organized for 1953 under the command of Colonel John Hunt. In addition to the best British climbers and such highly experienced Sherpas as Tenzing Norgay, the expedition enlisted talent from the British Commonwealth, such as New Zealanders George Lowe and Edmund Hillary, the latter of whom worked as a beekeeper when not climbing mountains. Members of the expedition were equipped with specially insulated boots and clothing, portable radio equipment, and open- and closed-circuit oxygen systems.

Setting up a series of camps, the expedition pushed its way up the mountain in April and May 1953. A new passage was forged through the Khumbu Icefall, and the climbers made their way up the Western Cwm, across the Lhotse Face, and to the South Col, at about 26,000 feet. On May 26, Charles Evans and Tom Bourdillon launched the first assault on the summit and came within 300 feet of the top of Everest before having to turn back because one of their oxygen sets was malfunctioning.

On May 28, Tenzing and Hillary set out, setting up high camp at 27,900 feet. After a freezing, sleepless night, the pair plodded on, reaching the South Summit by 9 a.m. and a steep rocky step, some 40 feet high, about an hour later. Wedging himself in a crack in the face, Hillary inched himself up what was thereafter known as the Hillary Step. Hillary threw down a rope, and Norgay followed. At about 11:30 a.m., the climbers arrived at the top of the world.

News of the success was rushed by runner from the expedition's base camp to the radio post at Namche Bazar, and then sent by coded message to London, where Queen Elizabeth II learned of the achievement on June 1, the eve of her coronation. The next day, the news broke around the world. Later that year, Hillary and Hunt were knighted by the queen. Norgay, because he was not a citizen of a Commonwealth nation, received the lesser British Empire Medal.

Since Hillary and Norgay's historic climb, numerous expeditions have made their way up to Everest's summit. In 1960, a Chinese expedition was the first to conquer the mountain from the Tibetan side, and in 1963 James Whittaker became the first American to top Everest. In 1975, Tabei Junko of Japan became the first woman to reach the summit. Three years later, Reinhold Messner of Italy and Peter Habeler of Austria achieved what had been previously thought impossible: climbing to the Everest summit without oxygen. Nearly two hundred climbers have died attempting to summit the mountain. A major tragedy occurred in 1996 when eight climbers from various nations died after being caught in a blizzard high on the slopes.
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May 29, 1988:
Reagan arrives in Moscow for summit talks

President Ronald Reagan travels to Moscow to begin the fourth summit meeting held in the past three years with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Though the summit produced no major announcements or breakthroughs, it served to illuminate both the successes and the failures achieved by the two men in terms of U.S.-Soviet relations.

In May 1988, President Reagan made his first trip to Moscow to meet with Gorbachev and begin their fourth summit meeting. Just six months earlier, during a summit in Washington, D.C., in December 1987, the two men had signed the historic Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons from Europe. In many ways, Reagan's trip to Moscow in May was a journey of celebration. Demonstrating the famous Reagan charm, the president and his wife waded into crowds of Russian well wishers and curiosity-seekers to shake hands and exchange pleasantries.

Very quickly, however, the talks between Reagan and Gorbachev revealed that serious differences still existed between the Soviet Union and the United States. From the beginning, Reagan--who had in the past referred to the Soviet Union as the "evil empire"--pressed Gorbachev on the issue of human rights. He urged Gorbachev to ease Soviet restrictions on freedom of religion and also asked that the Soviet Union relax the laws that kept many Russian Jews from emigrating. The Soviets were obviously displeased at Reagan's insistence on lecturing them about what they considered purely internal matters. A spokesman from the Soviet Foreign Ministry showed his irritation when he declared to a group of reporters, "We don't like it when someone from outside is teaching us how to live, and this is only natural."

Despite the tension introduced by the human rights issue, the summit was largely an opportunity for Reagan and Gorbachev to trade compliments and congratulations about their accomplishments, most notably the INF Treaty. As Reagan stated after their first day of meetings, "I think the message is clear--despite clear and fundamental differences, and despite the inevitable frustrations that we have encountered, our work has begun to produce results."
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May 29, 1914:
Ships crash in heavy fog

Heavy fog causes a collision of boats on the St. Lawrence River in Canada that kills 1,073 people on this day in 1914. Caused by a horrible series of blunders, this was one of the worst maritime disasters in history.

The Empress of Ireland left Quebec on May 28 with 1,057 passengers and 420 crew members on board. At 2:00 a.m. the following morning, the Empress was near Father Point on the St. Lawrence River when thick fog rolled in. A Norwegian coal freighter, the Storstad, was approaching as visibility was reduced to nearly nothing.

Although each ship was aware of the other, the Storstad failed to follow standard procedures for fog conditions, which call for stopping when visibility is drastically reduced. The Storstad only slowed, while the Empress came to a complete stop. The Storstad hit the Empress mid-ship and sliced through its hull. Captain Thomas Anderson of the Storstad made matters even worse by failing to reverse engines after the crash. He proceeded directly ahead, crushing many people on board and turning the Empress over onto its side. Anderson later told investigators he had feared reversing would have allowed water to rush into the hole.

This was a colossal error. The Empress sank in just 14 minutes, taking the great majority of its passengers with it. Only 217 passengers and 248 crew members survived the collision. The subsequent investigation placed most of the blame on Captain Anderson, but found the Empress had also ignored some critical precautions that would have saved many lives. Because of the risk of collision, the Empress should have sealed its watertight doors, which would have minimized damage from a crash; it did not.
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May 29, 1913:
Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps makes its infamous world premiere

Some of those in attendance to see the Ballets Russes at the Théâtre des Champs-élysées on May 29, 1913, would already have been familiar with the young Russian composer Igor Stravinsky through his 1910 ballet L'Oiseau de feu (The Firebird). But if they expected his newest work to proceed in the same familiar and pleasing vein as his first, they were in for a surprise. From the moment the premiere performance of Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps (Rite of Spring) began on this night in 1913, it was clear that even an audience of sophisticated Parisians was totally unprepared for something so avant-garde.

From the first notes of the overture, sounded by a bassoon playing well outside its normal register, Stravinsky's haunting music set the audience on edge. It was the combination of that music with the jarring choreography of the great Vaslav Nijinsky, however, that caused the uproar that followed. "The curtain rose on a group of knock-kneed and long-braided Lolitas jumping up and down," Stravinsky later remarked of the brutal opening seen of Le Sacre du printemps, which depicts a virgin sacrifice in an ancient pagan Russia. Catcalls began to issue from the audience as they took in the bizarre scene playing out before them. The noise became great enough that the orchestra could not be heard from the stage, causing Nijinsky to climb atop a chair in the wings shouting out instructions to his dancers onstage. While Stravinsky sat fuming as his music was drowned out by jeers, whistles and—if one witness is to be believed—members of the audience barking like dogs, Serge Diaghelev, impresario of the Ballets Russes, frantically switched the house lights on and off in a futile effort to restore order. It was, in other words a scene that bore a closer resemblance to the Marx Brothers' A Night At The Opera than it did to a typical night at the Ballets Russes.

In retrospect, Stravinsky's score can be seen as paving the way for 20th-century modern composition, and it sounds no more daring to today's listeners than the average dramatic film scores. Yet no present-day listener—and certainly no listener who first encountered it as part of the soundtrack to Disney's animated Fantasia (1940)—can possibly appreciate how shocking the dissonance, droning and asymmetrical rhythms of Le Sacre du printemps sounded to its premiere audience on this night in 1913.
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrOUYtDpKCc

Duke of Buckingham
05-30-12, 05:10 AM
May 30, 1431:
Joan of Arc martyred

At Rouen in English-controlled Normandy, Joan of Arc, the peasant girl who became the savior of France, is burned at the stake for heresy.

Joan was born in 1412, the daughter of a tenant farmer at Domremy, on the borders of the duchies of Bar and Lorraine. In 1415, the Hundred Years War between England and France entered a crucial phase when the young King Henry V of England invaded France and won a series of decisive victories against the forces of King Charles VI. By the time of Henry's death in August 1422, the English and their French-Burgundian allies controlled Aquitaine and most of northern France, including Paris. Charles VI, long incapacitated, died one month later, and his son, Charles, regent from 1418, prepared to take the throne. However, Reims, the traditional city of French coronation, was held by the Anglo-Burgundians, and the Dauphin (heir apparent to the French throne) remained uncrowned. Meanwhile, King Henry VI of England, the infant son of Henry V and Catherine of Valois, the daughter of Charles VI, was proclaimed king of France by the English.

Joan's village of Domremy lay on the frontier between the France of the Dauphin and that of the Anglo-Burgundians. In the midst of this unstable environment, Joan began hearing "voices" of three Christian saints—St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret. When she was about 16, these voices exhorted her to aid the Dauphin in capturing Reims and therefore the French throne. In May 1428, she traveled to Vaucouleurs, a stronghold of the Dauphin, and told the captain of the garrison of her visions. Disbelieving the young peasant girl, he sent her home. In January 1429, she returned, and the captain, impressed by her piety and determination, agreed to allow her passage to the Dauphin at Chinon.

Dressed in men's clothes and accompanied by six soldiers, she reached the Dauphin's castle at Chinon in February 1429 and was granted an audience. Charles hid himself among his courtiers, but Joan immediately picked him out and informed him of her divine mission. For several weeks, Charles had Joan questioned by theologians at Poitiers, who concluded that, given his desperate straits, the Dauphin would be well-advised to make use of this strange and charismatic girl.

Charles furnished her with a small army, and on April 27, 1429, she set out for Orleans, besieged by the English since October 1428. On April 29, as a French sortie distracted the English troops on the west side of Orleans, Joan entered unopposed by its eastern gate. She brought greatly needed supplies and reinforcements and inspired the French to a passionate resistance. She personally led the charge in several battles and on May 7 was struck by an arrow. After quickly dressing her wound, she returned to the fight, and the French won the day. On May 8, the English retreated from Orleans.

During the next five weeks, Joan and the French commanders led the French into a string of stunning victories over the English. On July 16, the royal army reached Reims, which opened its gates to Joan and the Dauphin. The next day, Charles VII was crowned king of France, with Joan standing nearby holding up her standard: an image of Christ in judgment. After the ceremony, she knelt before Charles, joyously calling him king for the first time.

On September 8, the king and Joan attacked Paris. During the battle, Joan carried her standard up to the earthworks and called on the Parisians to surrender the city to the king of France. She was wounded but continued to rally the king's troops until Charles ordered an end to the unsuccessful siege. That year, she led several more small campaigns, capturing the town of Saint-Pierre-le-Moitier. In December, Charles ennobled Joan, her parents, and her brothers.

In May 1430, the Burgundians laid siege to Compiegne, and Joan stole into the town under the cover of darkness to aid in its defense. On May 23, while leading a sortie against the Burgundians, she was captured. The Burgundians sold her to the English, and in March 1431 she went on trial before ecclesiastical authorities in Rouen on charges of heresy. Her most serious crime, according to the tribunal, was her rejection of church authority in favor of direct inspiration from God. After refusing to submit to the church, her sentence was read on May 24: She was to be turned over to secular authorities and executed. Reacting with horror to the pronouncement, Joan agreed to recant and was condemned instead to perpetual imprisonment.

Ordered to put on women's clothes, she obeyed, but a few days later the judges went to her cell and found her dressed again in male attire. Questioned, she told them that St. Catherine and St. Margaret had reproached her for giving in to the church against their will. She was found to be a relapsed heretic and on May 29 ordered handed over to secular officials. On May 30, Joan, 19 years old, was burned at the stake at the Place du Vieux-Marche in Rouen. Before the pyre was lit, she instructed a priest to hold high a crucifix for her to see and to shout out prayers loud enough to be heard above the roar of the flames.

As a source of military inspiration, Joan of Arc helped turn the Hundred Years War firmly in France's favor. By 1453, Charles VII had reconquered all of France except for Calais, which the English relinquished in 1558. In 1920, Joan of Arc, one of the great heroes of French history, was recognized as a Christian saint by the Roman Catholic Church. Her feast day is May 30.
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May 30, 1990:
Gorbachev arrives in Washington for summit

Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev arrives in Washington, D.C., for three days of talks with President George Bush. The summit meeting centered on the issue of Germany and its place in a changing Europe.

When Gorbachev arrived for this second summit meeting with President Bush, his situation in the Soviet Union was perilous. The Soviet economy, despite Gorbachev's many attempts at reform, was rapidly reaching a crisis point. Russia's control over its satellites in Eastern Europe was quickly eroding, and even Russian republics such as Lithuania were pursuing paths of independence. Some U.S. observers believed that in an effort to save his struggling regime, Gorbachev might try to curry favor with hard-line elements in the Russian Communist Party. That prediction seemed to be borne out by Gorbachev's behavior at the May 1990 summit. The main issue at the summit was Germany.

By late 1989, the Communist Party in East Germany was rapidly losing its grip on power; the Berlin Wall had come down and calls for democracy and reunification with West Germany abounded. By the time Gorbachev and Bush met in May 1990, leaders in East and West Germany were making plans for reunification. This brought about the question of a unified Germany's role in Europe. U.S. officials argued that Germany should become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The Soviets adamantly opposed this, fearful that a reunified and pro-western Germany might be a threat to Russian security. Gorbachev indicated his impatience with the U.S. argument when he declared shortly before the summit that, "The West hasn't done much thinking," and complained that the argument concerning German membership in NATO was "an old record that keeps playing the same note again and again."

The Gorbachev-Bush summit ended after three days with no clear agreement on the future of Germany. Russia's pressing economic needs, however, soon led to a breakthrough. In July 1990, Bush promised Gorbachev a large economic aid package and vowed that the German army would remain relatively small. The Soviet leader dropped his opposition to German membership in NATO. In October 1990, East and West Germany formally reunified and shortly thereafter joined NATO.
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May 30, 1997:
Jonathan Levin is tortured and killed by his former student

Jonathan Levin, a popular 31-year-old English teacher, is stabbed and shot to death in his Upper West Side apartment in New York City. The son of Time Warner chairman Gerald Levin, Jonathan was known by many to be wealthy. When he did not show up for work, investigators searched his apartment and found his lifeless body bound to a chair with duct tape. Levin's bankcard was missing from his wallet, and $800 had been removed from his account around the time that he was killed.

Police learned from Levin's answering machine tape that Corey Arthur, a former student in Levin's remedial English class at William H. Taft High School in the Bronx, called Levin on May 30 to arrange a meeting. Apparently, Arthur and his accomplice, Montoun Hart, tortured Levin with a kitchen knife in order to get him to tell them his debit card code. They turned on the vacuum cleaner and stereo to cover up his screams.

Arthur, arrested a week after the murders, first claimed that he had been at Levin's apartment smoking crack when two other men came in and killed him. However, his story lost its credibility at trial when his fingerprints were found on the duct tape. Even still, Arthur denied being the one who pulled the trigger of the fatal shot.

Arthur was found guilty of second-degree murder and received 25 years to life in prison. Hart, despite his 11-page signed confession, was acquitted after convincing jurors that the confession had been coerced out of him when he was drunk.
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May 30, 1927:
Waters of Kentucky River peak

On this day in 1927, the Kentucky River peaks during a massive flood that kills 89 people and leaves thousands homeless. Torrential rains caused this unprecedented flood.

An account from the Mountain Eagle newspaper out of Whitesburg, Kentucky, in Letcher County, provides a detailed look at the disaster:

The flood hit just after 11 o'clock Sunday night, and within a few minutes the whole camp of the Consolidated Fuel company was under water. The house in which Brent Breeding and his family were living was swept against the railroad trestle and then crushed to pieces. Not a plank of it is to be seen there now. All of the members of the family were saved except a five-year-old girl. The body has not yet been recovered.

Jimmy Higgins, superintendent, says that he heard at 11 o'clock that his sub-station was on fire and started up Smoot creek to see about it. The rain became so hard that he turned back and climbed the hill to his home overlooking the depot there. A prolonged flash of lightning showed him that the camp already flooded. He rushed back down the hill and began to direct the rescue work. They had to chop into the roofs of some of the houses to get the occupants out, for the water from below had trapped them. Swimmers went in at the risk of their own lives and carried out occupants. One home had thirteen children, all of whom were saved.

This flood had a serious long-term impact on the communities of the region: 12,000 people were left homeless and men were out of work for months as the mines in which most worked had to be shut down. As with most floods, it was the flooding of small streams rather than a major river that caused the most deaths. Major rivers that flood can cause serious property and agricultural damage, but do not usually cause deaths because it takes more time for them to flood, usually providing ample warning to people nearby. Smaller rivers and creeks tend to flood suddenly when inundated by local storm bursts; the sudden waves of water that kill people usually come out of these smaller rivers.

Floods are the deadliest weather phenomenon in the United States, causing about 140 deaths annually.
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Duke of Buckingham
05-31-12, 07:18 AM
May 31, 1859:
Big Ben goes into operation in London

The famous tower clock known as Big Ben, located at the top of the 320-foot-high St. Stephen's Tower, rings out over the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London, for the first time on this day in 1859.

After a fire destroyed much of the Palace of Westminster--the headquarters of the British Parliament--in October 1834, a standout feature of the design for the new palace was a large clock atop a tower. The royal astronomer, Sir George Airy, wanted the clock to have pinpoint accuracy, including twice-a-day checks with the Royal Greenwich Observatory. While many clockmakers dismissed this goal as impossible, Airy counted on the help of Edmund Beckett Denison, a formidable barrister known for his expertise in horology, or the science of measuring time.

Denison's design, built by the company E.J. Dent & Co., was completed in 1854; five years later, St. Stephen's Tower itself was finished. Weighing in at more than 13 tons, its massive bell was dragged to the tower through the streets of London by a team of 16 horses, to the cheers of onlookers. Once it was installed, Big Ben struck its first chimes on May 31, 1859. Just two months later, however, the heavy striker designed by Denison cracked the bell. Three more years passed before a lighter hammer was added and the clock went into service again. The bell was rotated so that the hammer would strike another surface, but the crack was never repaired.

The name "Big Ben" originally just applied to the bell but later came to refer to the clock itself. Two main stories exist about how Big Ben got its name. Many claim it was named after the famously long-winded Sir Benjamin Hall, the London commissioner of works at the time it was built. Another famous story argues that the bell was named for the popular heavyweight boxer Benjamin Caunt, because it was the largest of its kind.

Even after an incendiary bomb destroyed the chamber of the House of Commons during the Second World War, St. Stephen's Tower survived, and Big Ben continued to function. Its famously accurate timekeeping is regulated by a stack of coins placed on the clock's huge pendulum, ensuring a steady movement of the clock hands at all times. At night, all four of the clock’s faces, each one 23 feet across, are illuminated. A light above Big Ben is also lit to let the public know when Parliament is in session.
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May 31, 1929:
Ford signs agreement with Soviet Union

After two years of exploratory visits and friendly negotiations, Ford Motor Company signs a landmark agreement to produce cars in the Soviet Union on this day in 1929.

The Soviet Union, which in 1928 had only 20,000 cars and a single truck factory, was eager to join the ranks of automotive production, and Ford, with its focus on engineering and manufacturing methods, was a natural choice to help. The always independent-minded Henry Ford was strongly in favor of his free-market company doing business with Communist countries. An article published in May 1929 in The New York Times quoted Ford as saying that "No matter where industry prospers, whether in India or China, or Russia, all the world is bound to catch some good from it."

Signed in Dearborn, Michigan, on May 31, 1929, the contract stipulated that Ford would oversee construction of a production plant at Nizhni Novgorod, located on the banks of the Volga River, to manufacture Model A cars. An assembly plant would also start operating immediately within Moscow city limits. In return, the USSR agreed to buy 72,000 unassembled Ford cars and trucks and all spare parts to be required over the following nine years, a total of some $30 million worth of Ford products. Valery U. Meshlauk, vice chairman of the Supreme Council of National Economy, signed the Dearborn agreement on behalf of the Soviets. To comply with its side of the deal, Ford sent engineers and executives to the Soviet Union.

At the time the U.S. government did not formally recognize the USSR in diplomatic negotiations, so the Ford agreement was groundbreaking. (A week after the deal was announced the Soviet Union would announce deals with 15 other foreign companies, including E.I. Du Pont de Nemours and RCA.) As Douglas Brinkley writes in "Wheels for the World," his book on Henry Ford and Ford Motor, the automaker was firm in his belief that introducing capitalism was the best way to undermine communism. In any case, Ford's assistance in establishing motor vehicle production facilities in the USSR would greatly impact the course of world events, as the ability to produce these vehicles helped the Soviets defeat Germany on the Eastern Front during World War II. In 1944, according to Brinkley, Stalin wrote to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, calling Henry Ford "one of the world's greatest industrialists" and expressing the hope that "may God preserve him."
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May 31, 1964:
A killer who can't keep his mouth shut

Fifteen-year-old Alleen Rowe is killed by Charles Schmid in the desert outside Tucson, Arizona. Earlier in the night, Schmid allegedly had said to his friends, "I want to kill a girl! I want to do it tonight. I think I can get away with it!" Schmid went on to kill three other teenage girls before being caught by police.

Constantly trying to compensate for his short stature, Charles Schmid wore oversized cowboy boots stuffed with rags to boost up his natural 5-foot, 3-inch stance. He was also a well-known pathological liar, telling girls that he had terminal diseases and that he had connections to the mafia. To his friends, he constantly bragged about his sexual exploits.

When Schmid was 22, he enlisted John Saunders and Mary French to assist in killing Alleen Rowe. They lured the girl out to the desert where Schmid raped her and then smashed her head with a rock before they each took turns digging a shallow grave in which to bury her. Providing alibis for each other, the threesome allowed police to write off Rowe's disappearance as a runaway case. Most of Tuscon's teen community had already heard rumors that Schmid, Saunders, and French were responsible, but no one came forward.

The following year, 17-year-old Gretchen Fritz, who had been secretly dating Schmid, disappeared, along with her younger sister Wendy. Schmid, who had killed the sisters in the desert, couldn't resist telling someone, so he enlisted Richard Bruns' help in burying the bodies. Schmid went on to kill two other teenaged girls. He later bragged about killing four people, but if there was a fourth, it was a teenaged boy that he killed before he met Rowe. When Bruns soon began to fear that Schmid would kill his own girlfriend, and he therefore told the police about the Fritz murders about three months later.The subsequent trial gained national attention as an example of the depravity of young people in the 1960s. Schmid was convicted and sentenced to death, but he survived because the Supreme Court invalidated most death sentences in 1972. Later that year, he escaped from state prison, only to be caught a few days later
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May 31, 1889:
The Johnstown Flood

The South Fork Dam collapses on this day in 1889, causing a flood in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, that kills more than 2,200 people.

Johnstown is 60 miles east of Pittsburgh in a valley near the Allegheny, Little Conemaugh, and Stony Creek Rivers. It is located on a floodplain that has been subject to frequent disasters. Because of the area's susceptibility to floods, a dam was built in 1840 on the Little Conemaugh River, 14 miles upstream from Johnstown. Nine hundred feet by 72 feet, it was the largest earth dam (made of dirt and rock, rather than steel and concrete) in the United States and it created the largest man-made lake of the time, Lake Conemaugh. The dam was part of an extensive canal system that became obsolete as the railroads replaced the canal as a means of transporting goods. As the canal system fell into disuse, maintenance on the dam was neglected.

In 1889, Johnstown was home to 30,000 people, many of whom worked in the steel industry. On May 31, the residents were unaware of the danger that steady rain over the course of the previous day had caused. A spillway at the dam became clogged with debris that could not be dislodged. An engineer at the dam saw warning signs of an impending disaster and rode a horse to the village of South Fork to warn the residents. However, the telegraph lines were down and the warning did not reach Johnstown. At 3:10 p.m., the dam collapsed, causing a roar that could be heard for miles. All of the water from Lake Conemaugh rushed forward at 40 miles per hour, sweeping away everything in its path.

People in the path of the rushing flood waters were often crushed as their homes and other structures were swept away. Thirty-three train engines were pulled into the raging waters, creating more hazards. Some people in Johnstown were able to make it to the top floors of the few tall buildings in town. However, whirlpools brought down many of these taller buildings. A bridge downstream from the town caught much of the debris and then proceeded to catch fire. Some people who had survived by floating on top of debris were burned to death in the fire. Reportedly, one baby survived on the floor of a house as it floated 75 miles from Johnstown.

One of the American Red Cross's first major relief efforts took place in the aftermath of the Johnstown flood. Clara Barton arrived five days later to lead the relief. It took five years to rebuild Johnstown, which again endured deadly floods in 1936 and 1977.
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May 31, 2005:
Deep Throat is revealed

W. Mark Felt’s family ends 30 years of speculation, identifying Felt, the former FBI assistant director, as “Deep Throat,” the secret source who helped unravel the Watergate scandal. The Felt family’s admission, made in an article in Vanity Fair magazine, took legendary reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who had promised to keep their source’s identity a secret until his death, by surprise. Tapes show that Nixon himself had speculated that Felt was the secret informant as early as 1973.

The question “Who was Deep Throat?” had been investigated relentlessly in the ensuing years since Watergate in movies, books, televisions shows, and on the Internet. America was obsessed with the shadowy figure who went to great lengths to conceal his involvement with the Washington Post reporters. Although his name was often mentioned as a possibility, Felt consistently denied being Deep Throat, even writing in his 1979 memoir, “I never leaked information to Woodward and Bernstein or to anyone else!” Even as recently as six years before the admission, he was quoted as saying, “It would be contrary to my responsibility as a loyal employee of the FBI to leak information.”

After the death of J. Edgar Hoover, then director of the FBI, Felt, who was serving as the bureau’s assistant director, wanted the job and was angry over Nixon’s failure to appoint him. He was also upset over Nixon’s attempts to stall the bureau’s investigation into the Watergate break-ins. So, when Bob Woodward called the veteran FBI employee to request information about the bureau’s Watergate investigation, Felt agreed to talk. But his cooperation came with strict restrictions. Felt refused to be quoted, even anonymously, and agreed only to confirm information already obtained, refusing to provide new information. And, of course, the reporters had to promise to keep his identity a secret. Felt was only contacted on matters of great importance.

Although the two initially talked by phone, Felt soon began to worry that his phones could be tapped. So, he and Woodward devised a set of signals and began to meet in the middle of the night in a parking garage. Over the ensuing months, Felt corroborated stories linking Nixon’s reelection committee to the Watergate break-ins and illegal investigations of the Democratic Party. He also alerted Woodward to the far-reaching nature of the scandal, indicating that it could be traced back to government higher-ups, including President Nixon himself.

In the aftermath of Felt’s admission, both Woodward and Bernstein expressed worries that, due to the intense interest in the Deep Throat mystery over the years, Felt’s role in unraveling the complicated web of lies and deceit that was Watergate may be overstated. They reminded Americans that other sources, Nixon’s secret White House tape recordings, the Senate’s Watergate hearings, and the historic action of the U.S. Supreme Court all played an important role in bringing the truth to light.

In 1973, the Washington Post won a Pulitzer Prize in public service for its coverage of the Watergate scandal.

W. Mark Felt died on December 18, 2008, at the age of 95.
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Duke of Buckingham
06-01-12, 04:50 AM
Jun 1, 1980:
CNN launches

On this day in 1980, CNN (Cable News Network), the world's first 24-hour television news network, makes its debut. The network signed on at 6 p.m. EST from its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, with a lead story about the attempted assassination of civil rights leader Vernon Jordan. CNN went on to change the notion that news could only be reported at fixed times throughout the day. At the time of CNN's launch, TV news was dominated by three major networks--ABC, CBS and NBC--and their nightly 30-minute broadcasts. Initially available in less than two million U.S. homes, today CNN is seen in more than 89 million American households and over 160 million homes internationally.

CNN was the brainchild of Robert "Ted" Turner, a colorful, outspoken businessman dubbed the "Mouth of the South." Turner was born on November 19, 1938, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and as a child moved with his family to Georgia, where his father ran a successful billboard advertising company. After his father committed suicide in 1963, Turner took over the business and expanded it. In 1970, he bought a failing Atlanta TV station that broadcast old movies and network reruns and within a few years Turner had transformed it into a "superstation," a concept he pioneered, in which the station was beamed by satellite into homes across the country. Turner later bought the Atlanta Braves baseball team and the Atlanta Hawks basketball team and aired their games on his network, TBS (Turner Broadcasting System). In 1977, Turner gained international fame when he sailed his yacht to victory in the prestigious America's Cup race.

In its first years of operation, CNN lost money and was ridiculed as the Chicken Noodle Network. However, Turner continued to invest in building up the network's news bureaus around the world and in 1983, he bought Satellite News Channel, owned in part by ABC, and thereby eliminated CNN's main competitor. CNN eventually came to be known for covering live events around the world as they happened, often beating the major networks to the punch. The network gained significant traction with its live coverage of the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and the network's audience grew along with the increasing popularity of cable television during the 1990s.

In 1996, CNN merged with Time Warner, which merged with America Online four years later. Today, Ted Turner is an environmentalist and peace activist whose philanthropic efforts include a 1997 gift of $1 billion to the United Nations.
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Jun 1, 1977:
Soviets charge Shcharansky with treason

The Soviet government charges Anatoly Shcharansky, a leader among Jewish dissidents and human rights activists in Russia, with the crime of treason. The action was viewed by many in the West as a direct challenge to President Jimmy Carter's new foreign policy emphasis on human rights and his criticism of Soviet repression.

Shcharansky, a 29-year-old computer expert, had been a leading figure in the so-called "Helsinki group" in the Soviet Union. This group came into existence in 1975, after the signing of the European Security Act. The European Security Act, also referred to as the Helsinki Accords, was the result of U.S. and Soviet efforts to reinvigorate the spirit of dÝtente. The two nations called 35 other countries together to discuss a variety of topics, and the final agreements signed at the meeting included guidelines for human rights. Although the Soviets signed the act, Jewish dissidents in Russia complained that their rights continued to be violated, particularly their right to emigrate. These Jewish dissidents and other human rights activists in the Soviet Union came together to form the Helsinki group, which was designed to monitor Russian respect of the 1975 act. Shcharansky was one of the best known of this group, particularly because of his flair for sparking public interest in human rights violations in Russia. President Carter used the situation of Russian Jews as an example of the human rights violations he wished to curtail when he came into office in 1977. The Soviets responded with a series of arrests of Helsinki group leaders and the deportation of others. Shcharansky, the most vociferous of the group, came in for the harshest treatment. In June 1977, he was charged with treason, specifically with accepting funds from the CIA in order to create dissension in the Soviet Union. After a perfunctory trial, he was sentenced to 14 years in prison. He was finally released in February 1986, when he and four other prisoners were exchanged for four Soviet spies who had been held in the West.

Shcharansky's arrest and imprisonment elicited a good deal of criticism from the American people and government, but the criticism seemed merely to harden the Soviet position. It was not until after Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in 1985, promising a freer political atmosphere in the Soviet Union, that Shchransky and other political dissidents, such as Andrei Sakharov, were freed from prison and internal exile. Despite the relatively freer atmosphere of the Gorbachev years, members of the Helsinki group, as well as other Soviet dissidents, continued to press for greater democratic freedom and human rights right up to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
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Jun 1, 1965:
Coal mine explosion kills 236 in Japan

A coal mine explosion kills 236 workers at the Yamano mine near Fukuoka, Japan, on this day in 1965. The tragic disaster might have been avoided if the operators of the mine had taken even the most basic safety precautions.

Only six years before, seven miners lost their lives and another 24 were seriously injured at the same mine. In that case, lapses in safety measures were cited as contributing to the deaths. Still, on June 1, 1965, 559 workers entered a mine that had no methanometers—used for maintaining safe levels of methane—nor any colorimetric detectors, which measure trace amounts of chemicals in the air, both of which are essential to coal-mine safety.

The sudden explosion, probably brought about by the ignition of a gas pocket, led to the collapse of many of the mine shafts and caused boulders to block the escape routes. Fortunately, some of the elevators were unaffected and 279 miners—37 of whom had sustained substantial injuries—were able to take them safely to the surface. The remaining 236 workers were left underground. For the next two days, thousands of relatives and friends waited outside the mine as the rescue effort got underway. But the wait was futile; no survivors were found.

Yoshio Sakarauchi, the trade and industries minister of Japan, resigned in the aftermath of the disaster.
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Jun 1, 1958:
De Gaulle reassumes French leadership

During a French political crisis over the military and civilian revolt in Algeria, Charles de Gaulle is called out of retirement to head a new emergency government. Considered the only leader of sufficient strength and stature to deal with the perilous situation, the former war hero was made the virtual dictator of France, with power to rule by decree for six months.

A veteran of World War I, de Gaulle unsuccessfully petitioned his country to modernize its armed forces in the years before the outbreak of World War II. After French Premier Henri Petain signed an armistice with Nazi Germany in June 1940, de Gaulle fled to London, where he organized the Free French forces and rallied French colonies to the Allied cause. His forces fought successfully in North Africa, and in June 1944 he was named head of the French government in exile.

On August 26, following the Allied invasion of France, de Gaulle entered Paris in triumph and in November was unanimously elected provisional president of France. He resigned two months later, claiming he lacked sufficient governing power. He formed a new political party that had only moderate electoral success, and in 1953 he retired. However, five years later, in May 1958, the Algerian revolt created a political crisis in France, and he was called out of retirement to lead the nation. A new constitution was passed, and in late December he was elected president of the Fifth Republic.

During the next decade, President de Gaulle granted independence to Algeria and attempted to restore France to its former international stature by withdrawing from the U.S.-dominated NATO alliance and promoting the development of French atomic weapons. However, student demonstrations and workers' strikes in 1968 eroded his popular support, and in 1969 his proposals for further constitutional reform were defeated in a national vote. On April 28, 1969, Charles de Gaulle, at 79 years old, retired permanently. He died the following year.
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Duke of Buckingham
06-01-12, 09:50 PM
Jun 2, 1935:
Babe Ruth retires

On this day in 1935, Babe Ruth, one of the greatest players in the history of baseball, ends his Major League playing career after 22 seasons, 10 World Series and 714 home runs. The following year, Ruth, a larger-than-life figure whose name became synonymous with baseball, was one of the first five players inducted into the sport's hall of fame.

George Herman Ruth was born February 6, 1895, into a poor family in Baltimore. As a child, he was sent to St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys, a school run by Roman Catholic brothers, where he learned to play baseball and was a standout athlete. At 19, Ruth was signed by the Baltimore Orioles, then a Boston Red Sox minor league team. Ruth's fellow teammates and the media began referring to him as team owner Jack Dunn's newest "babe," a nickname that stuck. Ruth would later acquire other nicknames, including "The Sultan of Swat" and "The Bambino."

Ruth made his Major League debut as a left-handed pitcher with the Red Sox in July 1914 and pitched 89 winning games for the team before 1920, when he was traded to the New York Yankees. After Ruth left Boston, in what became known as "the curse of the Bambino," the Red Sox didn't win another World Series until 2004. In New York, Ruth's primary position changed to outfielder and he led the Yankees to seven American League pennants and four World Series victories. Ruth was a huge star in New York and attracted so many fans that the team was able to open a new stadium in 1923, Yankee Stadium, dubbed "The House That Ruth Built."

The southpaw slugger's final season, in 1935, was with the Boston Braves. He had joined the Braves with the hope that he'd become the team's manager the next season. However, this dream never came to pass for a disappointed Ruth, who had a reputation for excessive drinking, gambling and womanizing.

Many of the records Ruth set remained in place for decades. His career homerun record stood until 1974, when it was broken by Hank Aaron. Ruth's record of 60 homeruns in a single season (1927) of 154 games wasn't bested until 1961, when Roger Maris knocked out 61 homers in an extended season of 162 games. The Sultan of Swat's career slugging percentage of .690 remains the highest in Major League history.

Ruth died of throat cancer at age 53 on August 16, 1948, in New York City. His body lay in state at Yankee Stadium for two days and was visited by over 100,000 fans.
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Jun 2, 1954:
McCarthy charges communists are in the CIA

Senator Joseph McCarthy charges that communists have infiltrated the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the atomic weapons industry. Although McCarthy's accusations created a momentary controversy, they were quickly dismissed as mere sensationalism from a man whose career was rapidly slipping away.

Senator McCarthy first made a name for himself in 1950 when he charged that over 200 "known communists" were in the Department of State. During the next few years, he alleged that communists were in nearly every branch of the U.S. government. His reckless accusations helped to create what came to be known as the Red Scare, a time when Americans feared that communists were infiltrating all aspects of American government and life. Despite the fact that McCarthy never managed to unearth a single communist, his ability to whip up public hysteria and smear opponents as communist sympathizers made him front-page news for several years. By 1954, however, his power was slipping. His earlier charges had been leveled at the Democratic administration of President Harry S. Truman, and Republicans had embraced McCarthy as a useful weapon. When Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower stepped into the presidency in 1953, however, McCarthy's wild accusations became a nuisance and source of embarrassment to the Republican Party.

Sensing that his base of power was eroding, in 1954 McCarthy embarked on a spectacularly unsuccessful effort to recapture public support by opening investigations into alleged communist infiltration of the U.S. Army. By early June 1954, the McCarthy-Army hearings had been going on for nearly a month. This was the first opportunity for the American public to get a firsthand view of McCarthy, as the hearings were televised. His bullying style and hysterical behavior quickly turned off the audience. In a desperate attempt to regain momentum, McCarthy charged that communists had also infiltrated the CIA and atomic weapons industry. No one took the charges seriously, and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, his brother, CIA Director Allen Dulles, and President Eisenhower brusquely dismissed McCarthy's accusations as reckless and without basis.

Just a few weeks later, McCarthy was thoroughly disgraced when the lawyer for the U.S. Army, Joseph Welch, gave him a devastatingly effective tongue-lashing, which ended with Welch asking the senator whether he had any sense of "decency" at all. The McCarthy-Army hearings collapsed soon thereafter, and the U.S. Senate voted to censure McCarthy. He died, still holding office, in 1957.
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Jun 2, 1924:
The Indian Citizenship Act

With Congress' passage of the Indian Citizenship Act, the government of the United States confers citizenship on all Native Americans born within the territorial limits of the country.

Before the Civil War, citizenship was often limited to Native Americans of one-half or less Indian blood. In the Reconstruction period, progressive Republicans in Congress sought to accelerate the granting of citizenship to friendly tribes, though state support for these measures was often limited. In 1888, most Native American women married to U.S. citizens were conferred with citizenship, and in 1919 Native American veterans of World War I were offered citizenship. In 1924, the Indian Citizenship Act, an all-inclusive act, was passed by Congress. The privileges of citizenship, however, were largely governed by state law, and the right to vote was often denied to Native Americans in the early 20th century.
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Jun 2, 1997:
McVeigh convicted for Oklahoma City bombing

Timothy McVeigh, a former U.S. Army soldier, is convicted on 15 counts of murder and conspiracy for his role in the 1995 terrorist bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

On April 19, 1995, just after 9 a.m., a massive truck bomb exploded outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The blast collapsed the north face of the nine-story building, instantly killing more than 100 people and trapping dozens more in the rubble. Emergency crews raced to Oklahoma City from across the country, and when the rescue effort finally ended two weeks later, the death toll stood at 168 people, including 19 young children who were in the building's day-care center at the time of the blast.

On April 21, the massive manhunt for suspects in the worst terrorist attack ever committed on U.S. soil resulted in the capture of Timothy McVeigh, a 27-year-old former U.S. Army soldier who matched an eyewitness description of a man seen at the scene of the crime. On the same day, Terry Nichols, an associate of McVeigh's, surrendered at Herington, Kansas, after learning that the police were looking for him. Both men were found to be members of a radical right-wing survivalist group based in Michigan, and on August 8, John Fortier, who knew of McVeigh's plan to bomb the federal building, agreed to testify against McVeigh and Nichols in exchange for a reduced sentence. Two days later, a grand jury indicted McVeigh and Nichols on murder and conspiracy charges.

While still in his teens, Timothy McVeigh acquired a penchant for guns and began honing survivalist skills he believed would be necessary in the event of a Cold War showdown with the Soviet Union. Lacking direction after high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and proved a disciplined and meticulous soldier. It was during this time that he befriended Terry Nichols, a fellow soldier who, though 13 years his senior, shared his survivalist interests.

In early 1991, McVeigh served in the Persian Gulf War and was decorated with several medals for a brief combat mission. Despite these honors, he was discharged from the army at the end of the year, one of many casualties of the U.S. military downsizing that came after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Perhaps also because of the end of the Cold War, McVeigh shifted his ideology from a hatred of foreign communist governments to a suspicion of the U.S. federal government, especially as its new elected leader, Democrat Bill Clinton, had successfully campaigned for the presidency on a platform of gun control.

The August 1992 shoot-out between federal agents and survivalist Randy Weaver at his cabin in Idaho, in which Weaver's wife and son were killed, followed by the April 19, 1993, inferno near Waco, Texas, which killed some 80 Branch Davidians, deeply radicalized McVeigh, Nichols, and their associates. In early 1995, Nichols and McVeigh planned an attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City, which housed, among other federal agencies, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF)--the agency that had launched the initial raid on the Branch Davidian compound in 1993.

On April 19, 1995, the two-year anniversary of the disastrous end to the Waco standoff, McVeigh parked a Ryder rental truck loaded with a diesel-fuel-fertilizer bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and fled. Minutes later, the massive bomb exploded, killing 168 people.

On June 2, 1997, McVeigh was convicted on 15 counts of murder and conspiracy, and on August 14, under the unanimous recommendation of the jury, he was sentenced to die by lethal injection. In December 2000, McVeigh asked a federal judge to stop all appeals of his convictions and to set a date for his execution by lethal injection at the U.S. Penitentiary at Terre Haute, Indiana. McVeigh's execution, in June 2001, was the first federal death penalty to be carried out since 1963.

Michael Fortier was sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined $200,000 for failing to warn authorities about McVeigh's bombing plans. In a federal trial, Terry Nichols was found guilty on one count of conspiracy and eight counts of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to life in prison. In a later Oklahoma state trial, he was charged with 160 counts of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree manslaughter for the death of an unborn child, and one count of aiding in the placement of a bomb near a public building. On May 26, 2004, he was convicted of all charges and sentenced to 160 consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.
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Jun 2, 2003:
Europe launches its first voyage to another planet,

The European Space Agency's Mars Express probe launches from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan.

Mars Express is a space exploration mission being conducted by the European Space Agency (ESA). The Mars Express mission is exploring the planet Mars, and is the first planetary mission attempted by the agency. "Express" originally referred to the speed and efficiency with which the spacecraft was designed and built. However "Express" also describes the spacecraft's relatively short interplanetary voyage, a result of being launched when the orbits of Earth and Mars brought them closer than they had been in about 60,000 years.

Mars Express consists of two parts, the Mars Express Orbiter and the Beagle 2, a lander designed to perform exobiology and geochemistry research. Although the lander failed to land safely on the Martian surface, the Orbiter has been successfully performing scientific measurements since early 2004, namely, high-resolution imaging and mineralogical mapping of the surface, radar sounding of the subsurface structure down to the permafrost, precise determination of the atmospheric circulation and composition, and study of the interaction of the atmosphere with the interplanetary medium.

Due to the valuable science return and the highly flexible mission profile, Mars Express has been granted five mission extensions, the latest until 2014.

Some of the instruments on the orbiter, including the camera systems and some spectrometers, reuse designs from the failed launch of the Russian Mars 96 mission in 1996 (European countries had provided much of the instrumentation and financing for that unsuccessful mission). The basic design of Mars Express is based on ESA's Rosetta mission, on which a considerable sum was spent on development. The same design was also used for the Venus Express mission in order to increase reliability and reduce development cost and time.
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Duke of Buckingham
06-03-12, 04:23 AM
Jun 3, 1989:
Crackdown at Tiananmen begins

With protests for democratic reforms entering their seventh week, the Chinese government authorizes its soldiers and tanks to reclaim Beijing's Tiananmen Square at all costs. By nightfall on June 4, Chinese troops had forcibly cleared the square, killing hundreds and arresting thousands of demonstrators and suspected dissidents.

On April 15, the death of Hu Yaobang, a former Communist Party head who supported democratic reforms, roused some 100,000 students to gather at Beijing's Tiananmen Square to commemorate the leader and voice their discontent with China's authoritative government. On April 22, an official memorial service for Hu Yaobang was held in Tiananmen's Great Hall of the People, and student representatives carried a petition to the steps of the Great Hall, demanding to meet with Premier Li Peng. The Chinese government refused the meeting, leading to a general boycott of Chinese universities across the country and widespread calls for democratic reforms.

Ignoring government warnings of suppression of any mass demonstration, students from more than 40 universities began a march to Tiananmen on April 27. The students were joined by workers, intellectuals, and civil servants, and by mid-May more than a million people filled the square, the site of Mao Zedong's proclamation of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

On May 20, the government formally declared martial law in Beijing, and troops and tanks were called in to disperse the dissidents. However, large numbers of students and citizens blocked the army's advance, and by May 23 government forces had pulled back to the outskirts of Beijing. On June 3, with negotiations to end the protests stalled and calls for democratic reforms escalating, the troops received orders from the Chinese government to seize control of Tiananmen Square and the streets of Beijing. Hundreds were killed and thousands arrested.

In the weeks after the government crackdown, an unknown number of dissidents were executed, and hard-liners in the government took firm control of the country. The international community was outraged by the incident, and economic sanctions imposed by the United States and other countries sent China's economy into decline. By late 1990, however, international trade had resumed, thanks in part to China's release of several hundred imprisoned dissidents.
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Jun 3, 1957:
U.S. Supreme Court rules against Du Pont in General Motors suit

On this day in 1957, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the chemical company E. I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co. must give up its large stock interest in the Detroit-based automobile company General Motors on the grounds that it constituted a monopoly, or a concentration of power that reduced competition or otherwise interfered with trade.

Between 1917 and 1919, Du Pont invested $50 million in GM, becoming the automaker's largest stockholder, with a 23 percent share. The chemical company's founder, Pierre S. Du Pont, served as GM's president from 1920 to 1923 and as chairman of the company's board from 1923 to 1929. By that time, GM had passed Ford Motor Company as the largest manufacturer of passenger cars in the United States, and had become one of the largest companies in the world, in any industry.

In 1949, the U.S. Justice Department brought suit against Du Pont, charging that the chemical giant's close relationship with GM gave it an illegal advantage over competitors in the sale of its automotive finishes and textiles. This advantage, according to the suit, violated the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act, Congress' first attempt to regulate monopolies. The case dragged on for five years before Chicago's U.S. District Court Judge Walter J. LaBuy dismissed the government's suit, ruling that it had "failed to prove conspiracy, monopolization, a restraint of trade, or any reasonable probability of a restraint."

The Justice Department appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and on June 3, 1957, the Court handed down its decision. It based its reversal of LaBuy's verdict not on the Sherman Act but on Section 7 of the Clayton Act, which had been passed in 1914 to clarify and support the Sherman Act. This section, to which government lawyers had dedicated only a tiny portion of their case, prohibited any corporation from purchasing stock in another "where the effect of such acquisition may be [to restrain commerce] or tend to create a monopoly of any line of commerce."

The four justices in the majority were Chief Justice Earl Warren, William Brennan, Hugo Black and William Douglas; Brennan wrote the majority opinion, which stated that the "inference is overwhelming that Du Pont's commanding position [in the sale of automobile finishes and fabrics to GM] was promoted by its stock interest and was not gained solely on competitive merit." Justices Harold Burton and Felix Frankfurter dissented from the majority, while two justices--Tom Black and John Marshall Harlan--disqualified themselves from the case: Black had been attorney general in 1949, when the Justice Department brought the case, and Harlan had previously represented Du Pont as a lawyer.
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Jun 3, 2010:
Van der Sloot arrested for murder in South America

On this day in 2010, Joran van der Sloot, a longtime suspect in the unsolved 2005 disappearance of American teen Natalee Holloway in Aruba, is arrested in Chile in connection with the slaying of 21-year-old Stephany Flores, in Lima, Peru. Flores was murdered on May 30, 2010, exactly five years to the day after Holloway went missing while on a high school graduation trip to the Caribbean island. In January 2012, Van der Sloot pleaded guilty to Flores’ murder.

In May 2010, Van der Sloot, who was born in the Netherlands in 1987 and raised in Dutch-speaking Aruba, was in the Peruvian capital for a poker tournament. He reportedly met Flores, a college student and daughter of a prominent Peruvian businessman, at a Lima casino. The two were seen entering Van der Sloot’s room at Hotel TAC around 5 a.m. on May 30. Approximately four hours later, surveillance video captured Van der Sloot leaving the room alone and carrying his bags. After Flores’ family reported her missing, she was found dead in the hotel room on June 2, beaten and with a broken neck. Her money and credit cards were missing.

After Peruvian officials reviewed the hotel surveillance video, Van der Sloot emerged as the prime suspect in the murder investigation. Police believed he had fled in Flores’ car and later abandoned it in another part of Lima, before traveling south to Chile. On June 3, Van der Sloot was arrested in Chile, and deported to Peru soon afterward. On June 7, the Dutchman admitted to Peruvian authorities he had killed Flores during an argument after she used his computer without permission (authorities suggested she might have discovered he was linked to the Holloway case). Van der Sloot stated he beat and strangled Flores then suffocated her with his shirt. The Dutchman later retracted this confession, saying he was frightened and confused when he made it.

On the day Van der Sloot was arrested in South America, U.S. authorities issued a warrant for his arrest in connection with a plot to extort $250,000 from Holloway’s family in exchange for revealing the location of her remains. Holloway, an 18-year-old from Mountain Brook, Alabama, was last seen leaving an Aruban bar and restaurant with Van der Sloot and two of his friends in the early hours of May 30, 2005. Her disappearance generated widespread media coverage in the United States. Despite an extensive search, Holloway’s body was never found. Van der Sloot was arrested twice in Aruba in conjunction with her disappearance but never charged.

On January 11, 2012, Van der Sloot, who has been behind bars in Peru since his June 2010 arrest, pleaded guilty in a Lima courtroom to Flores’ murder. Two days later, a panel of judges sentenced him to 28 years in prison and ordered him to pay $75,000 in reparation to Flores’ family.

One day before Van der Sloot was sentenced, a judge in Birmingham, Alabama, signed an order declaring Natalee Holloway legally dead. The judge made the ruling at the request of Holloway’s father, so that he could settle his daughter’s estate.
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Jun 3, 1989:
Natural gas explosion kills 500 in Russia

In a freak and tragic accident, a natural-gas pipeline explodes in Russia's Ural Mountains just as two trains pass it.

The explosion occurred near the town of Ufa in what was then the Soviet Union and was the result of poor judgment by pipeline workers. They were aware that the pressure in the pipeline dropped significantly on June 3—a sign of a possible leak. However, instead of following standard procedure and checking for leaks, they instead pumped more and more natural gas through the line to keep the pressure up. The gas continued to leak and spread through the nearby area, mostly settling in a low area near the rail tracks about a mile from the pipeline.

As this was happening, two trains were approaching on the Trans-Siberian Railway, passing each other near the gas leak. Suddenly, the natural gas ignited, causing a massive fireball to erupt and flames to spread over an area a mile in length. The force of the explosion knocked several train cars right off the tracks. Hundreds of trees in the surrounding forest were instantly incinerated by the extreme temperatures.

The explosion and derailment caused tremendous casualties on the trains. Just over 500 people lost their lives (a precise count could not be made) and many others suffered horrible burns. Helicopters were flown in to evacuate the burn victims quickly to area hospitals.
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Jun 3, 1956:
Rock and roll is banned in Santa Cruz, California

Santa Cruz, California, a favorite early haunt of author Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, was an established capital of the West Coast counterculture scene by the mid-1960s. Yet just 10 years earlier, the balance of power in this crunchy beach town 70 miles south of San Francisco tilted heavily toward the older side of the generation gap. In the early months of the rock-and-roll revolution, in fact, at a time when adult authorities around the country were struggling to come to terms with a booming population of teenagers with vastly different musical tastes and attitudes, Santa Cruz captured national attention for its response to the crisis. On June 3, 1956, city authorities announced a total ban on rock and roll at public gatherings, calling the music "Detrimental to both the health and morals of our youth and community."

It was a dance party the previous evening that led to this reaction on the part of Santa Cruz authorities. Some 200 teenagers had packed the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium on a Saturday night to dance to the music of Chuck Higgins and his Orchestra, a Los Angeles group with a regional hit record called "Pachuko Hop." Santa Cruz police entered the auditorium just past midnight to check on the event, and what they found, according to Lieutenant Richard Overton, was a crowd "engaged in suggestive, stimulating and tantalizing motions induced by the provocative rhythms of an all-negro band." But what might sound like a pretty great dance party to some did not to Lt. Overton, who immediately shut the dance down and sent the disappointed teenagers home early

It may seem obvious now that Santa Cruz's ban on "Rock-and-roll and other forms of frenzied music" was doomed to fail, but it was hardly the only such attempt. Just two weeks later in its June 18, 1956 issue, Time magazine reported on similar bans recently enacted in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and in San Antonio, Texas, where the city council's fear of "undesirable elements" echoed the not-so-thinly-veiled concerns of Santa Cruz authorities over the racially integrated nature of the event that prompted the rock-and-roll ban issued on this day in 1956
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Duke of Buckingham
06-04-12, 08:54 AM
Jun 4, 1942:
Battle of Midway begins

On this day in 1942, the Battle of Midway--one of the most decisive U.S. victories against Japan during World War II--begins. During the four-day sea-and-air battle, the outnumbered U.S. Pacific Fleet succeeded in destroying four Japanese aircraft carriers while losing only one of its own, the Yorktown, to the previously invincible Japanese navy.

In six months of offensives prior to Midway, the Japanese had triumphed in lands throughout the Pacific, including Malaysia, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, the Philippines and numerous island groups. The United States, however, was a growing threat, and Japanese Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto sought to destroy the U.S. Pacific Fleet before it was large enough to outmatch his own.

A thousand miles northwest of Honolulu, the strategic island of Midway became the focus of his scheme to smash U.S. resistance to Japan's imperial designs. Yamamoto's plan consisted of a feint toward Alaska followed by an invasion of Midway by a Japanese strike force. When the U.S. Pacific Fleet arrived at Midway to respond to the invasion, it would be destroyed by the superior Japanese fleet waiting unseen to the west. If successful, the plan would eliminate the U.S. Pacific Fleet and provide a forward outpost from which the Japanese could eliminate any future American threat in the Central Pacific. U.S. intelligence broke the Japanese naval code, however, and the Americans anticipated the surprise attack.

In the meantime, 200 miles to the northeast, two U.S. attack fleets caught the Japanese force entirely by surprise and destroyed three heavy Japanese carriers and one heavy cruiser. The only Japanese carrier that initially escaped destruction, the Hiryu, loosed all its aircraft against the American task force and managed to seriously damage the U.S. carrier Yorktown, forcing its abandonment. At about 5:00 p.m., dive-bombers from the U.S. carrier Enterprise returned the favor, mortally damaging the Hiryu. It was scuttled the next morning.

When the Battle of Midway ended, Japan had lost four carriers, a cruiser and 292 aircraft, and suffered an estimated 2,500 casualties. The U.S. lost the Yorktown, the destroyer USS Hammann, 145 aircraft and suffered approximately 300 casualties.

Japan's losses hobbled its naval might--bringing Japanese and American sea power to approximate parity--and marked the turning point in the Pacific theater of World War II. In August 1942, the great U.S. counteroffensive began at Guadalcanal and did not cease until Japan's surrender three years later.
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Jun 4, 1896:
Henry Ford test-drives his "Quadricycle"

At approximately 4:00 a.m. on June 4, 1896, in the shed behind his home on Bagley Avenue in Detroit, Henry Ford unveils the "Quadricycle," the first automobile he ever designed or drove.

Ford was working as the chief engineer for the main plant of the Edison Illuminating Company when he began working on the Quadricycle. On call at all hours to ensure that Detroit had electrical service 24 hours a day, Ford was able to use his flexible working schedule to experiment with his pet project--building a horseless carriage with a gasoline-powered engine. His obsession with the gasoline engine had begun when he saw an article on the subject in a November 1895 issue of American Machinist magazine. The following March, another Detroit engineer named Charles King took his own hand-built vehicle--made of wood, it had a four-cylinder engine and could travel up to five miles per hour--out for a ride, fueling Ford's desire to build a lighter and faster gasoline-powered model.

As he would do throughout his career, Ford used his considerable powers of motivation and organization to get the job done, enlisting friends--including King--and assistants to help him bring his vision to life. After months of work and many setbacks, Ford was finally ready to test-drive his creation--basically a light metal frame fitted with four bicycle wheels and powered by a two-cylinder, four-horsepower gasoline engine--on the morning of June 4, 1896. When Ford and James Bishop, his chief assistant, attempted to wheel the Quadricycle out of the shed, however, they discovered that it was too wide to fit through the door. To solve the problem, Ford took an axe to the brick wall of the shed, smashing it to make space for the vehicle to be rolled out.

With Bishop bicycling ahead to alert passing carriages and pedestrians, Ford drove the 500-pound Quadricycle down Detroit's Grand River Avenue, circling around three major thoroughfares. The Quadricycle had two driving speeds, no reverse, no brakes, rudimentary steering ability and a doorbell button as a horn, and it could reach about 20 miles per hour, easily overpowering King's invention. Aside from one breakdown on Washington Boulevard due to a faulty spring, the drive was a success, and Ford was on his way to becoming one of the most formidable success stories in American business history.
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Jun 4, 1986:
Pollard admits to selling top-secret information to Israel

Jonathan Pollard pleads guilty to espionage for selling top-secret U.S. military intelligence information to Israel. The former Navy intelligence analyst sold enough classified documents to fill a medium-sized room.

Pollard was arrested in November 1985 after authorities learned that he had been meeting with Israeli agents every two weeks for the last year. He was paid approximately $50,000 for the highly sensitive documents and expected to receive as much as $300,000 in a secret Swiss bank account. The top-secret information included satellite photos and data on Soviet weapons.

Pollard was sentenced to life in prison while his wife Anne received a five-year sentence for being an accessory to the crimes. The discovery of his betrayal put a chill on the relationship between the U.S. and Israel. Viewing the U.S. as its ally, Israel believed that the information should have been passed along anyway. But the fact that some Israeli agents remained in high positions despite their involvement in the espionage angered the United States.

Israel has since stuck by Pollard. During peace negotiations mediated by President Clinton in the late 1990s, the nation made Pollard's release from prison a key point. Though Israel continues to work toward Pollard's release, the United States has declined to work out such a deal.
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Jun 4, 1972:
Three cars on a train carrying hexogen to Kazakhstan explode in Arzamas, Gorky Oblast, USSR, killing 91 and injuring about 1,500.

The Ufa train disaster was an explosion on the Kuybyshev Railway on June 4, 1989 at 1:15 (local time) in the Soviet Union, about 50 kilometers from the city of Ufa. It was the most deadly railway accident in Soviet history.

The explosion occurred when a leaking natural gas liquids (mainly propane and butane) pipeline created a highly flammable cloud that was ignited by sparks created by two passenger trains passing each other nearby. Both trains were carrying many children: one was returning from a holiday vacation on the Black Sea and the other was taking children there. Estimates of the size of the explosion have ranged from 250-300 tons of TNT equivalent up to 10,000 tons of TNT equivalent. According to official figures, 575 people died and more than 800 were injured. The exact location was near the town of Asha.

Three hours before the explosion, pipeline engineers noticed a drop in pressure, but they increased the pressure back to normal instead of checking for leaks.
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Jun 4, 1876:
Express train crosses the nation in 83 hours

A mere 83 hours after leaving New York City, the Transcontinental Express train arrives in San Francisco.

That any human being could travel across the entire nation in less than four days was inconceivable to previous generations of Americans. During the early 19th century, when Thomas Jefferson first dreamed of an American nation stretching from "sea to shining sea," it took the president 10 days to travel the 225 miles from Monticello to Philadelphia via carriage. Even with frequent changing of horses, the 100-mile journey from New York to Philadelphia demanded two days hard travel in a light stagecoach. At such speeds, the coasts of the continent-wide American nation were months apart. How could such a vast country ever hope to remain united?

As early as 1802, Jefferson had some glimmer of an answer. "The introduction of so powerful an agent as steam," he predicted, "[to a carriage on wheels] will make a great change in the situation of man." Though Jefferson never saw a train in his lifetime, he had glimpsed the future with the idea. Within half a century, America would have more railroads than any other nation in the world. By 1869, the first transcontinental line linking the coasts was completed. Suddenly, a journey that had previously taken months using horses could be made in less than a week.

Five days after the transcontinental railroad was completed, daily passenger service over the rails began. The speed and comfort offered by rail travel was so astonishing that many Americans could scarcely believe it, and popular magazines wrote glowing accounts of the amazing journey. For the wealthy, a trip on the transcontinental railroad was a luxurious experience. First-class passengers rode in beautifully appointed cars with plush velvet seats that converted into snug sleeping berths. The finer amenities included steam heat, fresh linen daily, and gracious porters who catered to their every whim. For an extra $4 a day, the wealthy traveler could opt to take the weekly Pacific Hotel Express, which offered first-class dining on board. As one happy passenger wrote, "The rarest and richest of all my journeying through life is this three-thousand miles by rail."

The trip was a good deal less speedy and comfortable for passengers unwilling or unable to pay the premium fares. Whereas most of the first-class passengers traveled the transcontinental line for business or pleasure, the third-class occupants were often emigrants hoping to make a new start in the West. A third-class ticket could be purchased for only $40--less than half the price of the first-class fare. At this low rate, the traveler received no luxuries. Their cars, fitted with rows of narrow wooden benches, were congested, noisy, and uncomfortable. The railroad often attached the coach cars to freight cars that were constantly shunted aside to make way for the express trains. Consequently, the third-class traveler's journey west might take 10 or more days. Even under these trying conditions, few travelers complained. Even 10 days spent sitting on a hard bench seat was preferable to six months walking alongside a Conestoga wagon on the Oregon Trail.

Railroad promotions, however, naturally focused on the speedy express trains. The arrival of the Transcontinental Express train in San Francisco on this day in 1876 was widely celebrated in the newspapers and magazines of the day. With this new express service, a businessman could leave New York City on Monday morning, spend 83 hours in relaxing comfort, and arrive refreshed and ready for work in San Francisco by Thursday evening. The powerful agent of steam had effectively shrunk a vast nation to a manageable size.
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Duke of Buckingham
06-06-12, 04:12 AM
Jun 5, 1933:
FDR takes United States off gold standard

On June 5, 1933, the United States went off the gold standard, a monetary system in which currency is backed by gold, when Congress enacted a joint resolution nullifying the right of creditors to demand payment in gold. The United States had been on a gold standard since 1879, except for an embargo on gold exports during World War I, but bank failures during the Great Depression of the 1930s frightened the public into hoarding gold, making the policy untenable.

Soon after taking office in March 1933, Roosevelt declared a nationwide bank moratorium in order to prevent a run on the banks by consumers lacking confidence in the economy. He also forbade banks to pay out gold or to export it. According to Keynesian economic theory, one of the best ways to fight off an economic downturn is to inflate the money supply. And increasing the amount of gold held by the Federal Reserve would in turn increase its power to inflate the money supply. Facing similar pressures, Britain had dropped the gold standard in 1931, and Roosevelt had taken note.

On April 5, 1933, Roosevelt ordered all gold coins and gold certificates in denominations of more than $100 turned in for other money. It required all persons to deliver all gold coin, gold bullion and gold certificates owned by them to the Federal Reserve by May 1 for the set price of $20.67 per ounce. By May 10, the government had taken in $300 million of gold coin and $470 million of gold certificates. Two months later, a joint resolution of Congress abrogated the gold clauses in many public and private obligations that required the debtor to repay the creditor in gold dollars of the same weight and fineness as those borrowed. In 1934, the government price of gold was increased to $35 per ounce, effectively increasing the gold on the Federal Reserve's balance sheets by 69 percent. This increase in assets allowed the Federal Reserve to further inflate the money supply.

The government held the $35 per ounce price until August 15, 1971, when President Richard Nixon announced that the United States would no longer convert dollars to gold at a fixed value, thus completely abandoning the gold standard. In 1974, President Gerald Ford signed legislation that permitted Americans again to own gold bullion.
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Jun 5, 1947:
George Marshall calls for aid to Europe

In one of the most significant speeches of the Cold War, Secretary of State George C. Marshall calls on the United States to assist in the economic recovery of postwar Europe. His speech provided the impetus for the so-called Marshall Plan, under which the United States sent billions of dollars to Western Europe to rebuild the war-torn countries.

In 1946 and into 1947, economic disaster loomed for Western Europe. World War II had done immense damage, and the crippled economies of Great Britain and France could not reinvigorate the region's economic activity. Germany, once the industrial dynamo of Western Europe, lay in ruins. Unemployment, homelessness, and even starvation were commonplace. For the United States, the situation was of special concern on two counts. First, the economic chaos of Western Europe was providing a prime breeding ground for the growth of communism. Second, the U.S. economy, which was quickly returning to a civilian state after several years of war, needed the markets of Western Europe in order to sustain itself.

On June 5, 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall, speaking at Harvard University, outlined the dire situation in Western Europe and pleaded for U.S. assistance to the nations of that region. "The truth of the matter," the secretary claimed, "is that Europe's requirements for the next three or four years of foreign food and other essential products--principally from America--are so much greater than her present ability to pay that she must have substantial additional help or face economic, social, and political deterioration of a very grave character." Marshall declared, "Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos." In a thinly veiled reference to the communist threat, he promised "governments, political parties, or groups which seek to perpetuate human misery in order to profit therefrom politically or otherwise will encounter the opposition of the United States."

In March 1948, the United States Congress passed the Economic Cooperation Act (more popularly known as the Marshall Plan), which set aside $4 billion in aid for Western Europe. By the time the program ended nearly four years later, the United States had provided over $12 billion for European economic recovery. British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin likened the Marshall Plan to a "lifeline to sinking men."
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Jun 5, 1968:
Bobby Kennedy is assassinated

Senator Robert Kennedy is shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after winning the California presidential primary. Immediately after he announced to his cheering supporters that the country was ready to end its fractious divisions, Kennedy was shot several times by the 22-year-old Palestinian Sirhan Sirhan. He died a day later.

The summer of 1968 was a tempestuous time in American history. Both the Vietnam War and the anti-war movement were peaking. Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated in the spring, igniting riots across the country. In the face of this unrest, President Lyndon B. Johnson decided not to seek a second term in the upcoming presidential election. Robert Kennedy, John's younger brother and former U.S. Attorney General, stepped into this breach and experienced a groundswell of support.

Kennedy was perceived by many to be the only person in American politics capable of uniting the people. He was beloved by the minority community for his integrity and devotion to the civil rights cause. After winning California's primary, Kennedy was in the position to receive the Democratic nomination and face off against Richard Nixon in the general election.

As star athletes Rafer Johnson and Roosevelt Grier accompanied Kennedy out a rear exit of the Ambassador Hotel, Sirhan Sirhan stepped forward with a rolled up campaign poster, hiding his .22 revolver. He was only a foot away when he fired several shots at Kennedy. Grier and Johnson wrestled Sirhan to the ground, but not before five bystanders were wounded. Grier was distraught afterward and blamed himself for allowing Kennedy to be shot.

Sirhan, who was born in Palestine, confessed to the crime at his trial and received a death sentence on March 3, 1969. However, since the California State Supreme Court invalidated all death penalty sentences in 1972, Sirhan has spent the rest of his life in prison. According to the New York Times, he has since said that he believed Kennedy was "instrumental" in the oppression of Palestinians. Hubert Humphrey ended up running for the Democrats in 1968, but lost by a small margin to Nixon.
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Jun 5, 1967:
Six-Day War begins

Israel responds to an ominous build-up of Arab forces along its borders by launching simultaneous attacks against Egypt and Syria. Jordan subsequently entered the fray, but the Arab coalition was no match for Israel's proficient armed forces. In six days of fighting, Israel occupied the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, the Golan Heights of Syria, and the West Bank and Arab sector of East Jerusalem, both previously under Jordanian rule. By the time the United Nations cease-fire took effect on June 11, Israel had more than doubled its size. The true fruits of victory came in claiming the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordan. Many wept while bent in prayer at the Western Wall of the Second Temple.

The U.N. Security Council called for a withdrawal from all the occupied regions, but Israel declined, permanently annexing East Jerusalem and setting up military administrations in the occupied territories. Israel let it be known that Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai would be returned in exchange for Arab recognition of the right of Israel to exist and guarantees against future attack. Arab leaders, stinging from their defeat, met in August to discuss the future of the Middle East. They decided upon a policy of no peace, no negotiations, and no recognition of Israel, and made plans to defend zealously the rights of Palestinian Arabs in the occupied territories.

Egypt, however, would eventually negotiate and make peace with Israel, and in 1982 the Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt in exchange for full diplomatic recognition of Israel. Egypt and Jordan later gave up their respective claims to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to the Palestinians, who opened "land for peace" talks with Israel beginning in the 1990s. A permanent Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement remains elusive, as does an agreement with Syria to return the Golan Heights.
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Jun 5, 1870:
Constantinople burns

A huge section of the city of Constantinople, Turkey, is set ablaze on this day in 1870. When the smoke finally cleared, 3,000 homes were destroyed and 900 people were dead.

The fire began at a home in the Armenian section of the Valide Tchesme district. A young girl was carrying a hot piece of charcoal to her family's kitchen in an iron pan when she tripped, sending the charcoal out the window and onto the roof of an adjacent home. The fire quickly spread down Feridje Street, one of Constantinople's main thoroughfares.

The Christian area of the city was quickly engulfed. There was a high degree of cooperation among the various ethnic groups who called the city home, but even this was no match for the high winds that drove the rapidly spreading fire. An entire square mile of the city near the Bosporus Strait was devastated. Only stone structures, mostly churches and hospitals, survived the conflagration.

In 1887, Edmondo de Amicis published perhaps the best account of this disaster in a book called Constantinople.
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Duke of Buckingham
06-06-12, 09:58 AM
Jun 6, 1944:
D-Day

Although the term D-Day is used routinely as military lingo for the day an operation or event will take place, for many it is also synonymous with June 6, 1944, the day the Allied powers crossed the English Channel and landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, beginning the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi control during World War II. Within three months, the northern part of France would be freed and the invasion force would be preparing to enter Germany, where they would meet up with Soviet forces moving in from the east.

With Hitler's armies in control of most of mainland Europe, the Allies knew that a successful invasion of the continent was central to winning the war. Hitler knew this too, and was expecting an assault on northwestern Europe in the spring of 1944. He hoped to repel the Allies from the coast with a strong counterattack that would delay future invasion attempts, giving him time to throw the majority of his forces into defeating the Soviet Union in the east. Once that was accomplished, he believed an all-out victory would soon be his.

On the morning of June 5, 1944, U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe gave the go-ahead for Operation Overlord, the largest amphibious military operation in history. On his orders, 6,000 landing craft, ships and other vessels carrying 176,000 troops began to leave England for the trip to France. That night, 822 aircraft filled with parachutists headed for drop zones in Normandy. An additional 13,000 aircraft were mobilized to provide air cover and support for the invasion.

By dawn on June 6, 18,000 parachutists were already on the ground; the land invasions began at 6:30 a.m. The British and Canadians overcame light opposition to capture Gold, Juno and Sword beaches; so did the Americans at Utah. The task was much tougher at Omaha beach, however, where 2,000 troops were lost and it was only through the tenacity and quick-wittedness of troops on the ground that the objective was achieved. By day's end, 155,000 Allied troops--Americans, British and Canadians--had successfully stormed Normandy’s beaches.

For their part, the Germans suffered from confusion in the ranks and the absence of celebrated commander Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, who was away on leave. At first, Hitler, believing that the invasion was a feint designed to distract the Germans from a coming attack north of the Seine River, refused to release nearby divisions to join the counterattack and reinforcements had to be called from further afield, causing delays. He also hesitated in calling for armored divisions to help in the defense. In addition, the Germans were hampered by effective Allied air support, which took out many key bridges and forced the Germans to take long detours, as well as efficient Allied naval support, which helped protect advancing Allied troops.

Though it did not go off exactly as planned, as later claimed by British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery--for example, the Allies were able to land only fractions of the supplies and vehicles they had intended in France--D-Day was a decided success. By the end of June, the Allies had 850,000 men and 150,000 vehicles in Normandy and were poised to continue their march across Europe.

The heroism and bravery displayed by troops from the Allied countries on D-Day has served as inspiration for several films, most famously The Longest Day (1962) and Saving Private Ryan (1998). It was also depicted in the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers (2001).
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Jun 6, 1933:
First drive-in movie theater opens

On this day in 1933, eager motorists park their automobiles on the grounds of Park-In Theaters, the first-ever drive-in movie theater, located on Crescent Boulevard in Camden, New Jersey.

Park-In Theaters--the term "drive-in" came to be widely used only later--was the brainchild of Richard Hollingshead, a movie fan and a sales manager at his father's company, Whiz Auto Products, in Camden. Reportedly inspired by his mother's struggle to sit comfortably in traditional movie theater seats, Hollingshead came up with the idea of an open-air theater where patrons watched movies in the comfort of their own automobiles. He then experimented in the driveway of his own house with different projection and sound techniques, mounting a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car, pinning a screen to some trees, and placing a radio behind the screen for sound. He also tested ways to guard against rain and other inclement weather, and devised the ideal spacing arrangement for a number of cars so that all would have a view of the screen.

The young entrepreneur received a patent for the concept in May of 1933 and opened Park-In Theaters, Inc. less than a month later, with an initial investment of $30,000. Advertising it as entertainment for the whole family, Hollingshead charged 25 cents per car and 25 cents per person, with no group paying more than one dollar. The idea caught on, and after Hollingshead's patent was overturned in 1949, drive-in theaters began popping up all over the country. One of the largest was the All-Weather Drive-In of Copiague, New York, which featured parking space for 2,500 cars, a kid's playground and a full service restaurant, all on a 28-acre lot.

Drive-in theaters showed mostly B-movies--that is, not Hollywood's finest fare--but some theaters featured the same movies that played in regular theaters. The initially poor sound quality--Hollingshead had mounted three speakers manufactured by RCA Victor near the screen--improved, and later technology made it possible for each car's to play the movie's soundtrack through its FM radio. The popularity of the drive-in spiked after World War II and reached its heyday in the late 1950s to mid-60s, with some 5,000 theaters across the country. Drive-ins became an icon of American culture, and a typical weekend destination not just for parents and children but also for teenage couples seeking some privacy. Since then, however, the rising price of real estate, especially in suburban areas, combined with the growing numbers of walk-in theaters and the rise of video rentals to curb the growth of the drive-in industry. Today, fewer than 500 drive-in theaters survive in the United States.
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Jun 6, 1997:
A teenaged mother gives birth and murders her baby at the prom

Eighteen-year-old Melissa Drexler gives birth to a baby boy in the bathroom stall at an Aberdeen Township banquet hall in New Jersey during her high school prom. Maintenance workers called to clean up blood found in the stall discover a bag in the garbage with her dead baby inside. An autopsy later revealed that the baby had been born alive but had been strangled to death.

Drexler's case drew national attention and outrage, especially since she returned to the dance floor after killing her newborn baby. It was also somewhat curious that she had managed to conceal her pregnancy from everyone she knew.

After arriving at the Lacey Township High School prom with her friends, Drexler immediately went to the women's bathroom. With her unsuspecting friends outside the stall, she gave birth to her baby boy in about 20 or 30 minutes. She reportedly told her friend, "Go tell the boys I'll be right out." Apparently, Drexler cut the umbilical cord on the edge of a metal sanitary napkin box in the stall. Blood tests revealed that she had no trace of drugs or alcohol in her system.

Prosecutors in Monmouth County initially charged Drexler with murder, but she pled guilty to aggravated manslaughter on August 21, 1998. Telling the court that she was remorseful for her actions, on October 29 the teary-eyed girl was sentenced to 15 years in prison with the possibility of parole in three years. She was released on parole after 37 months on November 26, 2001.
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Jun 6, 1981:
Train avoids cow, but kills 600

More than 500 passengers are killed when their train plunges into the Baghmati River in India on this day in 1981. The rail accident—the worst in India to that date—was caused by an engineer who was reverential of cows.

The nine-car train, filled with approximately 1,000 passengers, was traveling through the northeastern state of Bihar about 250 miles from Calcutta. Outside, monsoon-like conditions were battering the region. Extremely hard rains were swelling the rivers and making the tracks slick. When a cow and a Hindu engineer—who believed that cows are sacred animals—entered the picture, the combination led to tragedy.

As the train approached the bridge over the Baghmati River, a cow crossed the tracks. Seeking to avoid harming the cow at all costs, the engineer braked too hard. The cars slid on the wet rails and the last seven cars derailed straight into the river. With the river far above normal levels, the cars sank quickly in the murky waters.

Rescue help was hours away and, by the time it arrived, nearly 600 people had lost their lives. After a multi-day search, 286 bodies were recovered but more than 300 missing people were never found. The best estimate is that close to 600 passengers were killed by the engineer's decision.
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Jun 6, 1984:
Indian army storms Golden Temple

In a bloody climax to two years of fighting between the Indian government and Sikh separatists, Indian army troops fight their way into the besieged Golden Temple compound in Amritsar--the holiest shrine of Sikhism--and kill at least 500 Sikh rebels. More than 100 Indian soldiers and scores of nonbelligerent Sikhs also perished in the ferocious gun and artillery battle, which was launched in the early morning hours of June 6. The army also attacked Sikh guerrillas besieged in three dozen other temples and religious shrines throughout the state of Punjab. Indian officials hailed the operation as a success and said it "broke the back" of the Sikh terrorist movement.

The Sikh religion, which was founded in the late 15th century by Guru Nanak, combines elements of Hinduism and Islam, the two major religions of India. The religion is centered on the Indian state of Punjab in northern India, where Sikhs comprise a majority and speak Punjabi. In the 1970s, agricultural advances made Punjab one of India's most prosperous states, and Sikh leaders began calling for greater autonomy from the central government. This movement was largely peaceful until 1982, when the Sikh fundamentalist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his followers launched a separatist campaign in Punjab. Employing terrorism and assassination, Bhindranwale and his guerrillas killed scores of political opponents and Hindu civilians in the name of establishing an autonomous Sikh Khalistan, or "Land of the Pure." Most Sikhs did not support Bhindranwale's violent campaign, in which the extremists also assassinated several Sikhs who spoke out against the creation of Khalistan.

To appease the Sikhs, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi nominated Zail Singh to be the first Sikh president of India in 1982, a significant choice because the Sikhs comprise a small percentage of India's overall population. Most Sikhs distrusted Singh, however, because as Indian head of state he generally supported Gandhi's policies. Meanwhile, the separatists occupied the Golden Temple and other Sikh holy sites and turned them into armed bases.

The Golden Temple, known as the Harimandir in India, was built in 1604 by Guru Arjun. It was destroyed several times by Afghan invaders and rebuilt in the early 19th century in marble and copper overlaid with gold foil. The temple occupies a small island in the center of a pool. There are a number of other important buildings in the 72-acre temple compound, including the Akal Takht, which is the repository for Sikhism's Holy Book of scriptures and the headquarters of the religion.

To suppress the separatist revolt, which had claimed more than 400 Hindu and Sikh lives and virtually shut down Punjab, Prime Minister Gandhi ordered Indian troops to seize control of the Sikh bases by force in June 1984. On June 1, army troops surrounded the Golden Temple and exchanged gunfire with the rebels, who were heavily armed and commanded by a high-ranking army defector. The Sikhs refused to surrender, and in the early morning of June 6 army forces launched an assault on the temple compound. By daylight, the Sikhs were defeated.

Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the rebel leader, perished in the attack, allegedly by his own hand. The Indian government announced that 492 Sikh militants were killed, but the Sikhs put the number at more than 1,000. More than 100 army troops were killed and several hundred wounded. More than 1,500 Sikhs were arrested in the operation. The Golden Temple itself suffered only minor damage, but the Akal Takht, a scene of heavy fighting, was heavily damaged.

In the aftermath of the bloody confrontation, Sikhs rioted across India, and more people were killed. Some 1,000 Sikh soldiers in the Indian army mutinied, but these defectors were suppressed, and rebel leaders still at large were captured or killed. On October 31, in a dramatic act of retaliation, Indira Gandhi was shot to death in her garden by two Sikh members of her own bodyguard. This act only led to further violence, and thousands of Sikhs were massacred by angry Hindus in Delhi before Gandhi's son and successor, Rajiv Gandhi, called out the army to end the orgy of violence. Punjab's political status remained a divisive issue in India, and disorder and violence persisted in the state until the early 1990s.
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Duke of Buckingham
06-07-12, 06:32 AM
Jun 7, 1913:
First successful ascent of Mt. McKinley

On this day in 1913, Hudson Stuck, an Alaskan missionary, leads the first successful ascent of Mt. McKinley, the highest point on the American continent at 20,320 feet.

Stuck, an accomplished amateur mountaineer, was born in London in 1863. After moving to the United States, in 1905 he became archdeacon of the Episcopal Church in Yukon, Alaska, where he was an admirer of Native Indian culture and traveled Alaska's difficult terrain to preach to villagers and establish schools.

In March 1913, the adventure-seeking Stuck set out from Fairbanks for Mt. McKinley with three companions, Harry Karstens, co-leader of the expedition, Walter Harper, whose mother was a Native Indian, and Robert Tatum, a theology student. Their arduous journey was made more challenging by difficult weather and a fire at one of their camps, which destroyed food and supplies. However, the group persevered and on June 7, Harper, followed by the rest of the party, was the first person to set foot on McKinley's south peak, considered the mountain's true summit. (In 1910, a group of climbers had reached the lower north peak.)

Stuck referred to the mountain by its Athabascan Indian name, Denali, meaning "The High One." In 1889, the mountain, over half of which is covered with permanent snowfields, was dubbed Densmores Peak, after a prospector named Frank Densmore. In 1896, it was renamed in honor of Senator William McKinley, who became president that year.

Mount McKinley National Park was established as a wildlife refuge in 1917. Harry Karstens served as the park's first superintendent. In 1980, the park was expanded and renamed Denali National Park and Preserve. Encompassing 6 million acres, the park is larger than Massachusetts.

Hudson Stuck died in Alaska on October 10, 1920. Today, over 1,000 hopeful climbers attempt to scale Mt. McKinley each year, with about half of them successfully reaching their goal.
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Jun 7, 1939:
British king visits U.S.

King George VI becomes the first British monarch to visit the United States when he and his wife, Elizabeth, cross the Canadian-U.S. border to Niagara Falls, New York. The royal couple subsequently visited New York City and Washington, D.C., where they called for a greater U.S. role in resolving the crisis in Europe. On June 12, they returned to Canada, where they embarked on their voyage home.

George, who studied at Dartmouth Naval College and served in World War I, ascended to the throne after his elder brother, King Edward VIII, abdicated on December 11, 1936. Edward, who was the first English monarch to voluntarily relinquish the English throne, agreed to give up his title in the face of widespread criticism of his desire to marry Wallis Warfield Simpson, an American divorcee.

During World War II, King George worked to keep up British morale by visiting bombed areas and touring war zones. George and Elizabeth also remained in bomb-damaged Buckingham Palace during the war, shunning the relative safety of the countryside, and George made a series of important morale-boosting radio broadcasts, for which he overcame a speech impediment.

After the war, the royal family visited South Africa, but a planned tour of Australia and New Zealand had to be postponed indefinitely when the king fell ill in 1949. Despite his illness, he continued to perform state duties until his death in 1952. He was succeeded by his first-born daughter, who was crowned Queen Elizabeth II in June 1953.
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Jun 7, 1948:
Czechoslovakian president Benes resigns

Eduard Benes resigns as president of Czechoslovakia rather than sign a new constitution that would make his nation into a communist state. His resignation removed the last remnant of democratic government in Czechoslovakia and cleared the way for a communist-controlled regime.

Benes, a popular national figure in Czechoslovakia, had been elected "president for life" in 1946. Almost immediately, however, he faced a challenge from the Communist Party, which pushed for him to adopt a pro-Soviet foreign policy and communist economic practices. Throughout 1946 and 1947, the Communist Party grew in strength, helped by the economic and political turmoil left over from the recently ended war and also by ham-handed U.S. policies that threatened the Benes regime with economic sanctions if it did not purge the communist elements from Czechoslovakia. In February 1948, the communists staged a political coup, and pushed opposition parties from the government. The communists allowed Benes to remain in power, however, perhaps with the belief that his stature and popularity would be of use to them in their consolidation of power. In May 1948, the communist-controlled Parliament produced a new constitution patently designed to serve the interests of the Communist Party. For Benes, this was apparently the last straw. On June 7, 1948, he issued a letter of resignation. In it, he cited poor health as the primary reason for his decision, but the conclusion of the letter strongly suggested his disgust with the proposed constitution. He expressed his "wish that the Republic be spared all disaster and that they can live and work together in tolerance, love and forgiveness. Let them grant freedom to others and enjoy freedom themselves." Shortly after Benes' resignation, the communist premier, Klement Gottwald, took over as president.

In the West, Benes' resignation was accepted as the regrettable but inevitable climax of communist machinations in Czechoslovakia. Both the United States and Great Britain expressed their remorse at the passing of the Benes regime and strongly condemned the tactics of the Communist Party. Beyond military intervention, which was never even considered, there was nothing either nation could do to change the situation. The Communist Party dominated Czechoslovakia until the so-called "Velvet Revolution" of 1989 brought about a restoration of democratic government.
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Jun 7, 1893:
Gandhi's first act of civil disobedience

In an event that would have dramatic repercussions for the people of India, Mohandas K. Gandhi, a young Indian lawyer working in South Africa, refuses to comply with racial segregation rules on a South African train and is forcibly ejected at Pietermaritzburg.

Born in India and educated in England, Gandhi traveled to South Africa in early 1893 to practice law under a one-year contract. Settling in Natal, he was subjected to racism and South African laws that restricted the rights of Indian laborers. Gandhi later recalled one such incident, in which he was removed from a first-class railway compartment and thrown off a train, as his moment of truth. From thereon, he decided to fight injustice and defend his rights as an Indian and a man.

When his contract expired, he spontaneously decided to remain in South Africa and launch a campaign against legislation that would deprive Indians of the right to vote. He formed the Natal Indian Congress and drew international attention to the plight of Indians in South Africa. In 1906, the Transvaal government sought to further restrict the rights of Indians, and Gandhi organized his first campaign of satyagraha, or mass civil disobedience. After seven years of protest, he negotiated a compromise agreement with the South African government.

In 1914, Gandhi returned to India and lived a life of abstinence and spirituality on the periphery of Indian politics. He supported Britain in the First World War but in 1919 launched a new satyagraha in protest of Britain's mandatory military draft of Indians. Hundreds of thousands answered his call to protest, and by 1920 he was leader of the Indian movement for independence. Always nonviolent, he asserted the unity of all people under one God and preached Christian and Muslim ethics along with his Hindu teachings. The British authorities jailed him several times, but his following was so great that he was always released.

After World War II, he was a leading figure in the negotiations that led to Indian independence in 1947. Although hailing the granting of Indian independence as the "noblest act of the British nation," he was distressed by the religious partition of the former Mogul Empire into India and Pakistan. When violence broke out between Hindus and Muslims in India in 1947, he resorted to fasts and visits to the troubled areas in an effort to end India's religious strife. On January 30, 1948, he was on one such prayer vigil in New Delhi when he was fatally shot by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu extremist who objected to Gandhi's tolerance for the Muslims.

Known as Mahatma, or "the great soul," during his lifetime, Gandhi's persuasive methods of civil disobedience influenced leaders of civil rights movements around the world, especially Martin Luther King, Jr., in the United States.
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Jun 7, 1692:
Earthquake destroys Jamaican pirate haven

On this day in 1692, a massive earthquake devastates the infamous town of Port Royal in Jamaica, killing thousands. The strong tremors, soil liquefaction and a tsunami brought on by the earthquake combined to destroy the entire town.

Port Royal was built on a small island off the coast of Jamaica in the harbor across from present-day Kingston. Many of the buildings where the 6,500 residents lived and worked were constructed right over the water. In the 17th century, Port Royal was known throughout the New World as a headquarters for piracy, smuggling and debauchery. It was described as "most wicked and sinful city in the world" and "one of the lewdest in the Christian world."

Earthquakes in the area were not uncommon, but were usually rather small. In 1688, a tremor had toppled three homes. But four years later, late in the morning on June 7, three powerful quakes struck Jamaica. A large tsunami hit soon after, putting half of Port Royal under 40 feet of water. The HMS Swan was carried from the harbor and deposited on top of a building on the island. It turned out to be a refuge for survivors.

Residents also soon discovered that the island of Port Royal was not made of bedrock. The relatively loosely packed soil turned almost to liquid during the quake. Many buildings literally sank into the ground. In the aftermath, virtually every building in the city was uninhabitable, including two forts. Corpses from the cemetery floated in the harbor alongside recent victims of the disaster.

On the main island, Spanish Town was also demolished. Even the north side of the island experienced great tragedy. Fifty people were killed in a landslide. In all, about 3,000 people lost their lives on June 7. There was little respite in the aftermath--widespread looting began that evening and thousands more died in the following weeks due to sickness and injury. Aftershocks discouraged the survivors from rebuilding Port Royal. Instead, the city of Kingston was built and remains to this day the largest city in Jamaica.
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Duke of Buckingham
06-08-12, 03:00 AM
Jun 8, 1968:
King assassination suspect arrested

James Earl Ray, an escaped American convict, is arrested in London, England, and charged with the assassination of African American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.

On April 4, 1968, in Memphis, King was fatally wounded by a sniper's bullet while standing on the balcony outside his second-story room at the Motel Lorraine. That evening, a Remington .30-06 hunting rifle was found on the sidewalk beside a rooming house one block from the Lorraine Motel. During the next several weeks, the rifle, eyewitness reports, and fingerprints on the weapon all implicated a single suspect: escaped convict James Earl Ray. A two-bit criminal, Ray escaped a Missouri prison in April 1967 while serving a sentence for a holdup. In May 1968, a massive manhunt for Ray began. The FBI eventually determined that he had obtained a Canadian passport under a false identity, which at the time was relatively easy.

On June 8, Scotland Yard investigators arrested Ray at a London airport. Ray was trying to fly to Belgium, with the eventual goal, he later admitted, of reaching Rhodesia. Rhodesia (now called Zimbabwe) was at the time ruled by an oppressive and internationally condemned white minority government. Extradited to the United States, Ray stood before a Memphis judge in March 1969 and pleaded guilty to King's murder in order to avoid the electric chair. He was sentenced to 99 years in prison.

Three days later, he attempted to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming he was innocent of King's assassination and had been set up as a patsy in a larger conspiracy. He claimed that in 1967, a mysterious man named "Raoul" had approached him and recruited him into a gunrunning enterprise. On April 4, 1968, however, he realized that he was to be the fall guy for the King assassination and fled for Canada. Ray's motion was denied, as were his dozens of other requests for a trial during the next 29 years.

During the 1990s, the widow and children of Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke publicly in support of Ray and his claims, calling him innocent and speculating about an assassination conspiracy involving the U.S. government and military. U.S. authorities were, in conspiracists' minds, implicated circumstantially. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover obsessed over King, who he thought was under communist influence. For the last six years of his life, King underwent constant wiretapping and harassment by the FBI. Before his death, Dr. King was also monitored by U.S. military intelligence, who may have been called to watch over King after he publicly denounced the Vietnam War in 1967. Furthermore, by calling for radical economic reforms in 1968, including guaranteed annual incomes for all, King was making few new friends in the Cold War-era U.S. government.

Over the years, the assassination has been reexamined by the House Select Committee on Assassinations, the Shelby County, Tennessee, district attorney's office, and three times by the U.S. Justice Department. All of these investigations have ended with the same conclusion: James Earl Ray killed Martin Luther King, Jr. The House committee acknowledged that a low-level conspiracy might have existed, involving one or more accomplices to Ray, but uncovered no evidence definitively to prove this theory. In addition to the mountain of evidence against him, such as his fingerprints on the murder weapon and admitted presence at the rooming house on April 4, Ray had a definite motive in assassinating King: hatred. According to his family and friends, he was an outspoken racist who told them of his intent to kill King. Ray died in 1998.
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Jun 8, 1949:
FBI report names Hollywood figures as communists

Hollywood figures, including film stars Frederic March, John Garfield, Paul Muni, and Edward G. Robinson, are named in a FBI report as Communist Party members. Such reports helped to fuel the anticommunist hysteria in the United States during the late-1940s and 1950s.

The FBI report relied largely on accusations made by "confidential informants," supplemented with some highly dubious analysis. It began by arguing that the Communist Party in the United States claimed to have "been successful in using well-known Hollywood personalities to further Communist Party aims." The report particularly pointed to the actions of the Academy Award-winning actor Frederic March. Suspicions about March were raised by his activities in a group that was critical of America's growing nuclear arsenal (the group included other well-known radicals such as Helen Keller and Danny Kaye). March had also campaigned for efforts to provide relief to war-devastated Russia. The report went on to name several others who shared March's political leanings: Edward G. Robinson, the African-American singer; actor and activist Paul Robeson; the writer Dorothy Parker; and a host of Hollywood actors, writers, and directors.

The FBI report was part of a continuing campaign by the U.S. government to suggest that Hollywood was rife with communist activists who were using the medium of motion pictures to spread the Soviet party line. Congressional investigations into Hollywood began as early as 1946. In 1947, Congress cited 10 Hollywood writers and directors for contempt because they refused to divulge their political leanings or name others who might be communists. The "Hollywood Ten," as they came to be known, were later convicted and sent to prison for varying terms. In response to this particular round of allegations from the FBI, movie tough-guy Edward G. Robinson declared, "These rantings, ravings, accusations, smearing, and character assassinations can only emanate from sick, diseased minds of people who rush to the press with indictments of good American citizens. I have played many parts in my life, but no part have I played better or been more proud of than that of being an American citizen."
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Jun 8, 2001:
Tropical Storm Allison wreaks havoc

On this day in 2001, Tropical Storm Allison hits Houston, Texas, for the second time in three days. Although Allison never even approached hurricane status, by the time it dissipated in New England a week later, it had killed about 50 people and caused $5 billion in damages.

Allison originated off the coast of Africa on May 21. For the next two weeks it moved across the Atlantic, into the Caribbean and then along the Mexican coast. By the morning of June 6, the storm had winds as high as 60 miles per hour as it hit the Texas coast at Galveston. It battered the region with rain, with Houston getting as much as eight inches. Allison was unusual in that it hovered over the region for several days.

Louisiana and southern Texas were inundated with rain. Baton Rouge received 18 inches over just a couple of days. Some portions of Texas racked up 36 inches by June 11. It was at this time that a weather system moving east from the Rocky Mountains collided with Allison and pushed it to the northeast. By the time Allison moved on, 22 people in Texas and Louisiana had lost their lives.

For the next week, Allison moved slowly up the Atlantic coast, continuing to dump rain in prodigious amounts. Florida attributed nine deaths to the storm as did North Carolina–all as a result of traffic accidents. In Virginia Beach, Virginia, a tree fell on a woman and killed her. Pennsylvania received up to 10 inches of rain and had serious flooding problems. The flood conditions caused a natural gas explosion in an apartment complex in Hatboro, Pennsylvania, killing six people.

Tropical Storm Allison proved that storms need not be particularly strong or fast-moving to be deadly and destructive.
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Jun 8, 1967:
Israel attacks USS Liberty

During the Six-Day War, Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats attack the USS Liberty in international waters off Egypt's Gaza Strip. The intelligence ship, well-marked as an American vessel and only lightly armed, was attacked first by Israeli aircraft that fired napalm and rockets at the ship. The Liberty attempted to radio for assistance, but the Israeli aircraft blocked the transmissions. Eventually, the ship was able to make contact with the U.S. carrier Saratoga, and 12 fighter jets and four tanker planes were dispatched to defend the Liberty. When word of their deployment reached Washington, however, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered them recalled to the carrier, and they never reached the Liberty. The reason for the recall remains unclear.

Back in the Mediterranean, the initial air raid against the Liberty was over. Nine of the 294 crewmembers were dead and 60 were wounded. Suddenly, the ship was attacked by Israeli torpedo boats, which launched torpedoes and fired artillery at the ship. Under the command of its wounded captain, William L. McGonagle, the Liberty managed to avert four torpedoes, but one struck the ship at the waterline. Heavily damaged, the ship launched three lifeboats, but these were also attacked--a violation of international law. Failing to sink the Liberty, which displaced 10,000 tons, the Israelis finally desisted. In all, 34 Americans were killed and 171 were wounded in the two-hour attack. In the attack's aftermath, the Liberty managed to limp to a safe port.

Israel later apologized for the attack and offered $6.9 million in compensation, claiming that it had mistaken the Liberty for an Egyptian ship. However, Liberty survivors, and some former U.S. officials, believe that the attack was deliberate, staged to conceal Israel's pending seizure of Syria's Golan Heights, which occurred the next day. The ship's listening devices would likely have overheard Israeli military communications planning this controversial operation. Captain McGonagle was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic command of the Liberty during and after the attack.
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Jun 8, 632:
Founder of Islam dies

In Medina, located in present-day Saudi Arabia, Muhammad, one of the most influential religious and political leaders in history, dies in the arms of Aishah, his third and favorite wife.

Born in Mecca of humble origins, Muhammad married a wealthy widow at 25 years old and lived the next 15 years as an unremarkable merchant. In 610, in a cave in Mount Hira north of Mecca, he had a vision in which he heard God, speaking through the angel Gabriel, command him to become the Arab prophet of the "true religion." Thus began a lifetime of religious revelations, which he and others collected as the Qur'an. These revelations provided the foundation for the Islamic religion. Muhammad regarded himself as the last prophet of the Judaic-Christian tradition, and he adopted the theology of these older religions while introducing new doctrines. His inspired teachings also brought unity to the Bedouin tribesmen of Arabia, an event that had sweeping consequences for the rest of the world.

By the summer of 622, Muhammad had gained a substantial number of converts in Mecca, leading the city's authorities, who had a vested interest in preserving the city's pagan religion, to plan his assassination. Muhammad fled to Medina, a city some 200 miles north of Mecca, where he was given a position of considerable political power. At Medina, he built a model theocratic state and administered a rapidly growing empire. In 629, Muhammad returned to Mecca as a conqueror. During the next two and a half years, numerous disparate Arab tribes converted to his religion. By his death on June 8, 632, he was the effective ruler of all southern Arabia, and his missionaries, or legates, were active in the Eastern Empire, Persia, and Ethiopia.

During the next century, vast conquests continued under Muhammad's successors and allies, and the Muslim advance was not halted until the Battle of Tours in France in 732. By this time, the Muslim empire, among the largest the world had ever seen, stretched from India across the Middle East and North Africa, and up through Western Europe's Iberian peninsula. The spread of Islam continued after the end of the Arab conquest, and many cultures in Africa and Asia voluntarily adopted the religion. Today, Islam is the world's second-largest religion.
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Duke of Buckingham
06-09-12, 04:42 AM
Jun 9, 1973:
Secretariat wins Triple Crown

With a spectacular victory at the Belmont Stakes, Secretariat becomes the first horse since Citation in 1948 to win America's coveted Triple Crown--the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes. In one of the finest performances in racing history, Secretariat, ridden by Ron Turcotte, completed the 1.5-mile race in 2 minutes and 24 seconds, a dirt-track record for that distance.

Secretariat was born at Meadow Stables in Doswell, Virginia, on March 30, 1970. He was sired by Bold Ruler, the 1957 Preakness winner, and foaled by Somethingroyal, which came from a Thoroughbred line known for its stamina. An attractive chestnut colt, he grew to over 16 hands high and was at two years the size of a three-year-old. He ran his first race as a two-year-old on July 4, 1972, a 5 1/2-furlong race at Aqueduct in New York City. He came from behind to finish fourth; it was the only time in his career that he finished a race and did not place. Eleven days later, he won a six-furlong race at Saratoga in Saratoga Springs, New York, and soon after, another race. His trainer, Lucien Laurin, moved him up to class in August, entering him in the Sanford Stakes at Saratoga, which he won by three lengths. By the end of 1972, he had won seven of nine races.

With easy victories in his first two starts of 1973, Secretariat seemed on his way to the Triple Crown. Just two weeks before the Kentucky Derby, however, he stumbled at the Wood Memorial Stakes at Aqueduct, coming in third behind Angle Light and Sham. On May 5, he met Sham and Angle Light again at the Churchill Downs track in Louisville for the Kentucky Derby. Secretariat, a 3-to-2 favorite, broke from near the back of the pack to win the 2 1/4-mile race in a record 1 minute and 59 seconds. He was the first to run the Derby in less than two minutes and his record still stands. Two weeks later, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, Secretariat won the second event of the Triple Crown: the Preakness Stakes. The official clock malfunctioned, but hand-recorded timers had him running the 1 1/16-mile race in record time.

On June 9, 1973, almost 100,000 people came to Belmont Park near New York City to see if "Big Red" would become the first horse in 25 years to win the Triple Crown. Secretariat gave the finest performance of his career in the Belmont Stakes, completing the 1.5-mile race in a record 2 minutes and 24 seconds, knocking nearly three seconds off the track record set by Gallant Man in 1957. He also won by a record 31 lengths. Ron Turcotte, who jockeyed Secretariat in all but three of his races, claimed that at Belmont he lost control of Secretariat and that the horse sprinted into history on his own accord.

Secretariat would race six more times, winning four and finishing second twice. In November 1973, the "horse of the century" was retired and put to stud at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky. Among his notable offspring is the 1988 Preakness and Belmont winner, Risen Star. Secretariat was euthanized in 1989 after falling ill. An autopsy showed that his heart was two and a half times larger than that of the average horse, which may have contributed to his extraordinary racing abilities. In 1999, ESPN ranked Secretariat No. 35 in its list of the Top 50 North American athletes of the 20th century, the only non-human on the list.
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Jun 9, 1772:
British customs vessel, Gaspee, burns off Rhode Island

On this day in 1772, colonists, angered by the British Parliament's passing of the Townshend Acts restricting colonial trade, blacken their faces and board the HMS Gaspee, an armed British customs schooner that had run aground off the coast of Rhode Island. They then wounded the ship's commander and set it aflame.

The Gaspee was pursuing American Captain Thomas Lindsey's packet from Newport, when it ran aground off Namquit Point in Providence's Narragansett Bay on June 9. That evening, John Brown, an American merchant angered by high British taxes on his goods, rowed out to the Gaspee with eight long-boats with muffled oars and as a many as 67 colonists and seized control of the ship, shooting its Scottish captain, Lieutenant William Dudingston, in the abdomen. After sending the wounded captain and his crew to shore at Pawtuxet, the Americans set the Gaspee on fire.

When British officials arrived in Rhode Island to investigate the incident and send the perpetrators to Britain for trial, they found no one willing to identify those involved and the inquiry closed without result. The idea that the perpetrators would not be tried in the colonial justice system deeply angered the colonial assemblies, which established permanent committees of correspondence for the purpose of inter-colonial communication. They hoped to be able to learn of British plans to restrict Americans rights before the empire had time to act against colonial freedom. Colonists now feared a British conspiracy against their liberties.

Each year Pawtuxet Village remembers the burning of the HMS Gaspee with the month-long festival "Gaspee Days," which includes a parade and a symbolic burning of the schooner.
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Jun 9, 1972:
Flash flood hits Rapid City

A flash flood in Rapid City, South Dakota, kills more than 200 people on this day in 1972. This flood demonstrated the danger of building homes and businesses in a floodplain region.

The native Sioux called the river Minnelusa when European settlers overtook the Black Hills region in 1876 as part of one of the last gold rushes in North American history. The settlers built the town of Rapid City well south of the floodplain and for 75 years there were few flooding problems for the residents.

In 1952, the Pactola Dam was built 10 miles from the city. The new dam controlled the floods, setting off a boom in development of the floodplain area. Eventually, the Rapid City area became home to 50,000 people.

In the spring of 1972, torrential rains battered the Black Hills. Warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico collided with a Canadian cold front, causing 15 inches of rain to come down in only six hours. The spillway for the Pactola Dam got clogged with debris during the storm, leading to the total collapse of the dam and a devastating wave of water crushed most of the nearby buildings and swept away 238 people. Residents, most of whom were not insured for flood damage, suffered $160 million in damages.

In the wake of this tragedy, it was decided that the floodplain should no longer be used as a residential area. It is now a golf course and a park with several ponds.
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Jun 9, 1944:
The Red Army invades Karelian Isthmus in Finland

On this day in 1944, Russia penetrates into East Karelia, in Finland, as it fights to gain back control of territory that had already been ceded to it.

According to the terms of the Treaty of Moscow of 1940, Finland was forced to surrender parts of its southeastern territory, including the Karelian Isthmus, to the Soviet Union, which was eager to create a buffer zone for Leningrad. To protect itself against further Russian encroachment, Finland allowed Germany to traverse its country in its push eastward into Russia, despite the fact that it did not have a formal alliance with the Axis power. Emboldened by the damage Germany was inflicting on Russia, Finland pursued the "War of Continuation" and won back large parts of the territory it had ceded to Moscow in the 1940 treaty.

But as Germany suffered setback after setback, and the Allies continued bombing runs in the Balkans, using Russia as part of its "shuttle" strategy, Finland began to panic and made overtures to Stalin about signing an armistice. By June 9, the Red Army was once again in the East Karelia, and Stalin was in no mood to negotiate, demanding at least a symbolic "surrender" of Finland entirely. Finland turned back to its "friend," Germany, which promised continued support. A change in Finnish government resulted in a change in perspective, and Finland finally signed an armistice that gave Stalin what he wanted: all the old territory from the 1940 treaty and a guarantee that German troops would evacuate Finnish soil. Finland agreed but the German army refused to leave. Terrible battles were waged between the two behemoths; finally, with the defeat of the Axis, Russia got what it wanted, not only in Finnish territory, but also in war reparations to the tune of $300 million. Finland would become known for its passivity in the face of the Soviet threat in the postwar era.
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Jun 9, 1964:
CIA report challenges "domino theory"

In reply to a formal question submitted by President Lyndon B. Johnson--"Would the rest of Southeast Asia necessarily fall if Laos and South Vietnam came under North Vietnamese control?"--the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) submits a memo that effectively challenges the "domino theory" backbone of the Johnson administration policies. This theory contended that if South Vietnam fell to the communists, the rest of Southeast Asia would also fall "like dominoes," and the theory had been used to justify much of the Vietnam War effort.

The CIA concluded that Cambodia was probably the only nation in the area that would immediately fall. "Furthermore," the report said, "a continuation of the spread of communism in the area would not be inexorable, and any spread which did occur would take time--time in which the total situation might change in any number of ways unfavorable to the communist cause." The CIA report concluded that if South Vietnam and Laos also fell, it "would be profoundly damaging to the U.S. position in the Far East," but Pacific bases and allies such as the Philippines and Japan would still wield enough power to deter China and North Vietnam from any further aggression or expansion. President Johnson appears to have ignored the CIA analysis--he eventually committed over 500,000 American troops to the war in an effort to block the spread of communism to South Vietnam.
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Duke of Buckingham
06-10-12, 04:44 AM
Jun 10, 1953:
Eisenhower rejects calls for U.S. "isolationism"

In a forceful speech, President Dwight D. Eisenhower strikes back at critics of his Cold War foreign policy. He insisted that the United States was committed to the worldwide battle against communism and that he would maintain a strong U.S. defense. Just a few months into his presidency, and with the Korean War still raging, Eisenhower staked out his basic approach to foreign policy with this speech.

In the weeks prior to Eisenhower's talk, Senator Robert Taft and Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg issued challenges to the president's conduct of foreign policy. Taft argued that if efforts to reach a peace agreement in Korea failed, the United States should withdraw from the United Nations forces and make its own policy for dealing with North Korea. Vandenberg was upset over Eisenhower's proposal to cut $5 billion from the Air Force budget.

Without naming either man, Eisenhower responded to both during a speech at the National Junior Chamber of Commerce meeting in Minneapolis. He began by characterizing the Cold War as a battle "for the soul of man himself." He rejected Taft's idea that the United States should pursue a completely independent foreign policy, or what one "might call the 'fortress' theory of defense." Instead, he insisted that all free nations had to stand together: "There is no such thing as partial unity." To Vandenberg's criticisms of the new Air Force budget, the president explained that vast numbers of aircraft were not needed in the new atomic age. Just a few planes armed with nuclear weapons could "visit on an enemy as much explosive violence as was hurled against Germany by our entire air effort throughout four years of World War II."

With this speech, Eisenhower thus enunciated two major points of what came to be known at the time as his "New Look" foreign policy. First was his advocacy of multi-nation responses to communist aggression in preference to unilateral action by the United States. Second was the idea that came to be known as the "bigger bang for the buck" defense strategy. This postulated that a cheaper and more efficient defense could be built around the nation's nuclear arsenal rather than a massive increase in conventional land, air, and sea forces.
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Jun 10, 1991:
Evacuations save lives in the Philippines

On this day in 1991 at Clark Air Base in the Philippines, 14,500 personnel are evacuated in anticipation of the eruption of Mount Pinatubo. Over the next several days, the eruptions killed hundreds of people and sent tons of ash and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere.

In the early 1990s, about 30,000 people lived very close to Mount Pinatubo, which is 60 miles north of the capital city of Manila. The volcanic mud that makes up the lower slopes provided good soil for agriculture. The two major United States military facilities in the Philippines, Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Station, are only 15 and 25 miles away, respectively, from the volcano.

Pinatubo is a stratocone, a volcanic mountain that forms a dome made of lava. (Mt. Fuji in Japan is another example of this type of mountain.) It was 5,725 feet high at the time of the 1991 eruptions. The first indications of activity on the volcano were noticed on April 2, and in mid-May, scientists discovered that sulfur dioxide levels were 10 times above normal at Pinatubo, a sign of an impending eruption. Although the timing of the eruption could not be predicted, the readings raised alarms and emergency preparations began.

Evacuation of the surrounding area began on June 7. On the morning of June 12, the first major explosion occurred, blasting ash 62,000 feet in the air and destroying part of the mountain's dome. The eruption continued on and off for the next day and then, on the afternoon of June 14, another big blast spread gas and ash miles away. The final eruption took place the following morning, spewing 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the air. Approximately 350 people were killed by the toxic emissions. The early warning and preparations saved thousands of lives.

The mountain lost nearly 1,000 feet in the eruptions—it now stands at just 4,800 feet high.
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Jun 10, 1940:
Norway surrenders to Germany

After two months of desperate resistance, the last surviving Norwegian and British defenders of Norway are overwhelmed by the Germans, and the country is forced to capitulate to the Nazis.

Two months earlier, on April 9, Nazi Germany launched its invasion of Norway, capturing several strategic points along the Norwegian coast. During the preliminary phase of the invasion, Norwegian fascist forces under Vidkun Quisling acted as a so-called "fifth column" for the German invaders, seizing Norway's nerve centers, spreading false rumors, and occupying military bases and other locations.

Vidkun Quisling served as the Norwegian minister of defense from 1931 to 1933, and in 1934 he left the ruling party to establish the Nasjonal Samling, or National Unity Party, in imitation of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party. Although Norway declared neutrality at the outbreak of World War II, Nazi Germany regarded the occupation of Norway a strategic and economic necessity. In the spring of 1940, Vidkun Quisling traveled to Berlin to meet with Nazi command and plan the German conquest of his country. On April 9, the combined German forces attacked without warning, and by June 10 Hitler had conquered Norway and driven all Allied forces from the country.

Although Quisling was the head of the only political party permitted by the Nazis, opposition to him in Norway was so great that it was not until February 1942 that he was able to formally establish his puppet government in Oslo. Under the authority of his Nazi commissioner, Josef Terboven, Quisling set up a repressive regime that was merciless toward those who defied it. However, Norway's resistance movement soon became the most effective in all Nazi-occupied Europe, and Quisling's authority rapidly waned. After the German surrender in May 1945, Quisling was arrested, convicted of high treason, and shot. From his name comes the word quisling, meaning "traitor" in several languages.
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Jun 10, 1980:
Mandela writes from prison

In South Africa, the African National Congress (ANC) makes public a statement by Nelson Mandela, the long imprisoned leader of the anti-apartheid movement. The message, smuggled out of Robben Island prison under great risk, read, "UNITE! MOBILISE! FIGHT ON! BETWEEN THE ANVIL OF UNITED MASS ACTION AND THE HAMMER OF THE ARMED STRUGGLE WE SHALL CRUSH APARTHEID!"

Mandela, born in 1918, was the son of the chief of the Xhosa-speaking Tembu people. Instead of succeeding his father as chief, Mandela went to university and became a lawyer. In 1944, he joined the ANC, a black political organization dedicated to winning rights for the black majority in white-ruled South Africa. In 1948, the racist National Party came to power, and apartheid--South Africa's institutionalized system of white supremacy and racial segregation--became official government policy. With the loss of black rights under apartheid, black enrollment in the ANC rapidly grew. Mandela became one of the ANC's leaders and in 1952 was made deputy national president of the ANC. He organized nonviolent strikes, boycotts, marches, and other acts of civil disobedience.

After the massacre of peaceful black demonstrators at Sharpeville in 1960, Mandela helped organize a paramilitary branch of the ANC to engage in acts of sabotage against the white minority government. He was tried for and acquitted of treason in 1961 but in 1962 was arrested again for illegally leaving the country. Convicted and sentenced to five years at Robben Island Prison, he was put on trial again in 1963 with seven other ANC members who were arrested at Rivonia in possession of a store of weapons. Charged with sabotage, treason, and violent conspiracy, Mandela admitted to many of the charges against him and eloquently defended his militant activities during the trial. On June 12, 1964, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Mandela spent the first 18 of his 27 years in jail at the brutal Robben Island Prison. He was confined to a small cell without a bed or plumbing and was forced to do hard labor in a quarry. Once a year, he was allowed to meet with a visitor for 30 minutes, and once every six months he could write and receive a letter. At first, he was only allowed to exchange letters with his family, and these letters were read and censored by prison officials. Later he was allowed to write to friends and associates, but any writing of a political nature was forbidden. With the help of fellow prisoners and his visitors, Mandela smuggled out statements and letters to spark the continuing anti-apartheid movement. A 500-page autobiography, manually miniaturized into 50 pages, was smuggled out by a departing prisoner in 1976. The original manuscript of the autobiography, buried in a garden, was discovered by the prison warden soon after. As punishment, Mandela and three others lost their study rights for four years.

Through it all, Mandela's resolve remained unbroken, and he led a movement of civil disobedience at the prison that coerced South African officials into drastically improving conditions on Robben Island. In 1982, he was moved to Pollsmoor Prison on the mainland, and in 1988 to a cottage, where he lived under house arrest.

In 1989, F.W. de Klerk became South African president and set about dismantling apartheid. De Klerk lifted the ban on the ANC, suspended executions, and on February 11, 1990, ordered the release of Nelson Mandela after 27 years as a political prisoner. Mandela subsequently led the ANC in its negotiations with the minority government for an end to apartheid and the establishment of a multiracial government. In 1993, Mandela and de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. On April 26, 1994, more than 22 million South Africans turned out to cast ballots in the country's first-ever multiracial parliamentary elections. An overwhelming majority chose Mandela and the ANC to lead the country, and a "national unity" coalition was formed with de Klerk's National Party and the Zulus' Inkatha Freedom Party. On May 10, Mandela was sworn in as the first black president of South Africa.

As president, Mandela established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate human rights violations under apartheid and introduced numerous initiatives designed to improve the living standards of South Africa's black population. In 1996, he presided over the enactment of a new South African constitution. Mandela retired from politics in June 1999 at the age of 80. He was succeeded as president by Thabo Mbeki of the ANC. Mandela, admired by people around the world, continues to advocate for human rights and peace.
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Jun 10, 1968:
Westmoreland gives farewell press conference in Saigon

At a Saigon news conference on the day he is to turn over command of U.S. forces in Vietnam to Gen. Creighton Abrams, Gen. William Westmoreland offers his assessment of past and current trends in the war. In defense of his attrition policy, Westmoreland declared that it would ultimately make continued fighting "intolerable to the enemy." He also explained that, because it was impossible to "cut a surface line of communication with other than ground operations," Washington's ban on ground attacks to interdict communist infiltration through Laos precluded the achievement of military victory. Westmoreland denied, however, that the military situation was stalemated. Westmoreland's approach to the war had all but been discredited by the communist Tet Offensive, which was launched in January 30, 1968. In the wake of the widespread Viet Cong and North Vietnamese attacks, there was a review of U.S. policy by the Johnson administration. When it was decided to de-escalate the war, !

halt the bombing of North Vietnam, and go to the negotiating table, Westmoreland was reassigned to become the Army Chief of Staff, a post he held until his retirement from the service in 1972.
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Duke of Buckingham
06-11-12, 06:37 AM
Jun 11, 1979:
John Wayne dies

On this day in 1979, John Wayne, an iconic American film actor famous for starring in countless westerns, dies at age 72 after battling cancer for more than a decade.

The actor was born Marion Morrison on May 26, 1907, in Winterset, Iowa, and moved as a child to Glendale, California. A football star at Glendale High School, he attended the University of Southern California on a scholarship but dropped out after two years. After finding work as a movie studio laborer, Wayne befriended director John Ford, then a rising talent. His first acting jobs were bit parts in which he was credited as Duke Morrison, a childhood nickname derived from the name of his beloved pet dog.

Wayne's first starring role came in 1930 with The Big Trail, a film directed by his college buddy Raoul Walsh. It was during this time that Marion Morrison became "John Wayne," when director Walsh didn't think Marion was a good name for an actor playing a tough western hero. Despite the lead actor's new name, however, the movie flopped. Throughout the 1930s, Wayne made dozens of mediocre westerns, sometimes churning out two movies a week. In them, he played various rough-and-tumble characters and occasionally appeared as "Singing Sandy," a musical cowpoke a la Roy Rogers.

In 1939, Wayne finally had his breakthrough when his old friend John Ford cast him as Ringo Kid in the Oscar-winning Stagecoach. Wayne went on to play larger-than-life heroes in dozens of movies and came to symbolize a type of rugged, strong, straight-shooting American man. John Ford directed Wayne in some of his best-known films, including Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Rio Grande (1950), The Quiet Man (1952) and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence (1962).

Off-screen, Wayne came to be known for his conservative political views. He produced, directed and starred in The Alamo (1960) and The Green Berets (1968), both of which reflected his patriotic, conservative leanings. In 1969, he won an Oscar for his role as a drunken, one-eyed federal marshal named Rooster Cogburn in True Grit. Wayne's last film was The Shootist (1976), in which he played a legendary gunslinger dying of cancer. The role had particular meaning, as the actor was fighting the disease in real life.

During four decades of acting, Wayne, with his trademark drawl and good looks, appeared in over 250 films. He was married three times and had seven children.
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Jun 11, 1776:
Congress appoints Committee of Five to draft the Declaration of Independence

On this day in 1776, the Continental Congress selects Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman of Connecticut and Robert R. Livingston of New York to draft a declaration of independence.

Knowing Jefferson's prowess with a pen, Adams urged him to author the first draft of the document, which was then carefully revised by Adams and Franklin before being given to Congress for review on June 28.

The revolutionary treatise began with reverberating prose:

When, in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the Causes which impel them to the Separation.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Congress would not tolerate the Committee of Five's original language condemning Britain for introducing the slave trade to its American colonies as a cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life & liberty. Those distant people who never offended would have to wait another century and for another war before their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness would begin to be recognized.
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Jun 11, 1962:
Alcatraz proves escapable for three men

John and Clarence Anglin and Frank Lee Morris attempt to escape from Alcatraz federal prison. The three men were never seen again, and although some believe that theirs was the only successful getaway from what was known as "The Rock," it is far more likely that they drowned in the chilly water. Four days after their escape, a bag containing photos, which belonged to Clarence Anglin, was found in San Francisco Bay. Escape From Alcatraz, both a J. Campbell Bruce book and a Clint Eastwood movie, later dramatized the incident.

The three prisoners began their daring escape by using stolen tools to chip away at the cement near ventilation holes in their cells. Creatively, they then made fake grills out of cardboard and painted them to match the originals, which were located in a small area where they could get outside without being seen. In a classic maneuver, the inmates made dummy heads and placed them in their beds so that the guards would not notice them missing. They even used scraps of hair from the barbershop to make them look more realistic. Once outside, the three climbed over a 15-foot fence and made their way out to the choppy waters surrounding the island prison with life preservers made out of raincoats.

Over the years in which Alcatraz was used as a prison, 36 inmates (in 14 separate attempts) tried to escape. One drowned; six were shot to death; and five were never found, but were assumed to have drowned, including the Anglins and Morris. The remaining were captured, including two who were executed after one man, Bernard Coy, jumped a guard and got his gun in May 1946. With the help of others, Coy captured nine guards. However, the ensuing showdown left two guards and three inmates dead, and no one got off the island.
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Jun 11, 1509:
Henry VIII marries first wife

King Henry VIII of England marries Catherine of Aragon, the first of six wives he will have in his lifetime. When Catherine failed to produce a male heir, Henry divorced her against the will of the Roman Catholic Church, thus precipitating the Protestant Reformation in England.

Henry went on to have five more wives; two of whom--Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard--he executed for alleged adultery after he grew tired of them. His only surviving child by Catherine of Aragon, Mary, ascended to the throne upon the death of her half-brother, Edward VI, in 1553. In 1558, Mary was succeeded by her half-sister, Elizabeth, the only surviving child of Henry VIII by Anne Boleyn. She was crowned Queen Elizabeth I.
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Jun 11, 1955:
Tragedy at Le Mans

On this day in 1955, a racing car in Le Mans, France, goes out of control and crashes into stands filled with spectators, killing 82 people. The tragedy in the famous 24-hour race leads to a ban on racing in several nations.

The Le Mans race, organized by France's Automobile Club de L'Ouest, was first held in May 1923 and has since been held nearly every June. The race always begins at 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon and lasts for the next 24 hours over a 13-kilometer course running through the country roads near Le Mans. The winner is the racer who covers the greatest distance in that time. Before 1970, each car could only have two drivers. Only a single driver was allowed in the early years of the race. Three are required today.

In 1952, Pierre Levegh, a Frenchman driving alone, might have won the race if not for a single mistake in the last hour. Three years later, Levegh was invited to join the Mercedes-Benz team; their 300SLR was to be outfitted with a new innovation, an air brake that would enhance cornering.

Prior to the race, Levegh complained that the course was too narrow near the pit-stop area and the grandstand. This observation proved prescient. As Levegh was racing for the lead near the pit-stop area, he swerved to avoid fellow racer Mike Hawthorn's Jaguar as it moved toward the pits. Levegh's car, going about 150 miles per hour, came up too fast on Lance Macklin's Austin-Healey and was catapulted upward. The car crashed into the grandstand and its exploding parts went straight into the crowd. Levegh and more than 80 spectators, packed into the grandstand, lost their lives in the fiery crash.

The race continued despite the horrific accident (Hawthorn won), purportedly because if the remaining spectators had left the area, they would have blocked the ambulances called to pick up the dead and injured. The rest of the Mercedes team was recalled.

Grand Prix races in Germany and Switzerland scheduled for later that year were cancelled, and a complete ban on racing in Switzerland remains to this day. Both Spain and Mexico also temporarily banned motor racing following the 1955 Le Mans tragedy.
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Jun 11, 1967:
Six-Day War ends

The Six-Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors ends with a United Nations-brokered cease-fire. The outnumbered Israel Defense Forces achieved a swift and decisive victory in the brief war, rolling over the Arab coalition that threatened the Jewish state and more than doubling the amount of territory under Israel's control. The greatest fruit of victory lay in seizing the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordan; thousands of Jews wept while bent in prayer at the Second Temple's Western Wall.

Increased tensions and skirmishes along Israel's northern border with Syria were the immediate cause of the third Arab-Israeli war. In 1967, Syria intensified its bombardment of Israeli settlements across the border, and Israel struck back by shooting down six Syrian MiG fighters. After Syria alleged in May 1967 that Israel was massing troops along the border, Egypt mobilized its forces and demanded the withdrawal of the U.N. Emergency Force from the Israel-Egypt cease-fire lines of the 1956 conflict. The U.N. peacekeepers left on May 19, and three days later Egypt closed the Strait of Tiran to Israeli shipping. On May 30, Jordan signed a mutual-defense treaty with Egypt and Syria, and other Arab states, including Iraq, Kuwait, and Algeria, sent troop contingents to join the Arab coalition against Israel.

With every sign of a pan-Arab attack in the works, Israel's government on June 4 authorized its armed forces to launch a surprise preemptive strike. On June 5, the Six-Day War began with an Israeli assault against Arab air power. In a brilliant attack, the Israeli air force caught the formidable Egyptian air force on the ground and largely destroyed the Arabs' most powerful weapon. The Israeli air force then turned against the lesser air forces of Jordan, Syria, and Iraq, and by the end of the day had decisively won air superiority.

Beginning on June 5, Israel focused the main effort of its ground forces against Egypt's Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula. In a lightning attack, the Israelis burst through the Egyptian lines and across the Sinai. The Egyptians fought resolutely but were outflanked by the Israelis and decimated in lethal air attacks. By June 8, the Egyptian forces were defeated, and Israel held the Gaza Strip and the Sinai to the Suez Canal.

Meanwhile, to the east of Israel, Jordan began shelling its Jewish neighbor on June 5, provoking a rapid and overwhelming response from Israeli forces. Israel overran the West Bank and on June 7 captured the Old City of East Jerusalem. The chief chaplain of the Israel Defense Forces blew a ram's horn at the Western Wall to announce the reunification of East Jerusalem with the Israeli-administered western sector.

To the north, Israel bombarded Syria's fortified Golan Heights for two days before launching a tank and infantry assault on June 9. After a day of fierce fighting, the Syrians began a retreat from the Golan Heights on June 10. On June 11, a U.N.-brokered cease-fire took effect throughout the three combat zones, and the Six-Day War was at an end. Israel had more than doubled its size in the six days of fighting.

The U.N. Security Council called for a withdrawal from all the occupied regions, but Israel declined, permanently annexing East Jerusalem and setting up military administrations in the occupied territories. Israel let it be known that Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai would be returned in exchange for Arab recognition of the right of Israel to exist and guarantees against future attack. Arab leaders, stinging from their defeat, met in August to discuss the future of the Middle East. They decided upon a policy of no peace, no negotiations, and no recognition of Israel, and made plans to zealously defend the rights of Palestinian Arabs in the occupied territories.

Egypt, however, would eventually negotiate and make peace with Israel, and in 1982 the Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt in exchange for full diplomatic recognition of Israel. Egypt and Jordan later gave up their respective claims to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to the Palestinians, who beginning in the 1990s opened "land for peace" talks with Israel. The East Bank territory has since been returned to Jordan. In 2005, Israel left the Gaza Strip. Still, a permanent Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement remains elusive, as does an agreement with Syria to return the Golan Heights.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c4/1967_Six_Day_War_-_conquest_of_Sinai_7-8_June.jpg/350px-1967_Six_Day_War_-_conquest_of_Sinai_7-8_June.jpg

Duke of Buckingham
06-12-12, 05:17 AM
Jun 12, 1987:
Reagan challenges Gorbachev

On this day in 1987, in one of his most famous Cold War speeches, President Ronald Reagan challenges Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down" the Berlin Wall, a symbol of the repressive Communist era in a divided Germany.

In 1945, following Germany's defeat in World War II, the nation's capital, Berlin, was divided into four sections, with the Americans, British and French controlling the western region and the Soviets gaining power in the eastern region. In May 1949, the three western sections came together as the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), with the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) being established in October of that same year. In 1952, the border between the two countries was closed and by the following year East Germans were prosecuted if they left their country without permission. In August 1961, the Berlin Wall was erected by the East German government to prevent its citizens from escaping to the West. Between 1949 and the wall's inception, it's estimated that over 2.5 million East Germans fled to the West in search of a less repressive life.

With the wall as a backdrop, President Reagan declared to a West Berlin crowd in 1987, "There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace." He then called upon his Soviet counterpart: "Secretary General Gorbachev, if you seek peace--if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe--if you seek liberalization: come here, to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." Reagan then went on to ask Gorbachev to undertake serious arms reduction talks with the United States.

Most listeners at the time viewed Reagan's speech as a dramatic appeal to Gorbachev to renew negotiations on nuclear arms reductions. It was also a reminder that despite the Soviet leader's public statements about a new relationship with the West, the U.S. wanted to see action taken to lessen Cold War tensions. Happily for Berliners, though, the speech also foreshadowed events to come: Two years later, on November 9, 1989, joyful East and West Germans did break down the infamous barrier between East and West Berlin. Germany was officially reunited on October 3, 1990.

Gorbachev, who had been in office since 1985, stepped down from his post as Soviet leader in 1991. Reagan, who served two terms as president, from 1981 to 1989, died on June 5, 2004, at age 93.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtYdjbpBk6A


Jun 12, 1897:
Deadly quake hits India

On this day in 1897, a powerful earthquake in Assam, India, triggers deadly landslides and waves, killing more than 1,500 people.

The quake, with a devastating 8.8 magnitude, struck at 5 p.m. near the town of Shillong in northern India. This area is close to the Himalayan mountain range, which was formed by the Indian tectonic plate driving into the Asian plate. This interaction of the earth's plates creates a huge fault line in the area that was prone to strong tremors.

The June 12 quake was so strong that it was felt by people thousands of miles away. The area of devastation was approximately 160,000 square miles, larger than the entire state of California. The ground undulated as high as 3 feet, according to some reports. Poles in the ground moved as much as 15 feet horizontally. The flow of one river was completely stopped by the tremendous movement of earth, while other bodies of water in the area produced killer waves.

The final death toll is thought to be 1,542 people, including nearly 600 who lost their lives to a landslide in Cherrapunji. For hundreds of miles near the epicenter, nearly every building collapsed. Hundreds of aftershocks in the following months delayed the rebuilding efforts.


Jun 12, 1975:
Indira Gandhi convicted of election fraud

Indira Gandhi, the prime minister of India, is found guilty of electoral corruption in her successful 1971 campaign. Despite calls for her resignation, Gandhi refused to give up India's top office and later declared martial law in the country when public demonstrations threatened to topple her administration.

Gandhi was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of the independent Republic of India. She became a national political figure in 1955, when she was elected to the executive body of the Congress Party. In 1959, she served as president of the party and in 1964 was appointed to an important post in Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri's ruling government. In January 1966, Lal Bahadur Shastri died, and Gandhi became head of the Congress Party and thus prime minister of India. Soon after becoming India's first female head of government, Gandhi was challenged by the right wing of the Congress Party, and in the 1967 election she won only a narrow victory and thus had to rule with a deputy prime minister.

In 1971, she won a resounding reelection victory over the opposition and became the undisputed leader of India. That year, she ordered India's invasion of Pakistan in support of the creation of Bangladesh, which won her greater popularity and led her New Congress Party to a landslide victory in national elections in 1972.

During the next few years, she presided over increasing civil unrest brought on by food shortages, inflation, and regional disputes. Her administration was criticized for its strong-arm tactics in dealing with these problems. Meanwhile, charges by the Socialist Party that she had defrauded the 1971 election led to a national scandal. In 1975, the High Court in Allahabad convicted her of a minor election infraction and banned her from politics for six years. In response, she declared a state of emergency throughout India, imprisoned thousands of political opponents, and restricted personal freedoms in the country. Among several controversial programs during this period was the forced sterilization of men and women as a means of controlling population growth.

In 1977, long-postponed national elections were held, and Gandhi and her party were swept from office. The next year, Gandhi's supporters broke from the Congress Party and formed the Congress (I) Party, with the "I" standing for "Indira." Later in 1978, she was briefly imprisoned for official corruption. In 1979, divisions with the ruling Janata Party led to the collapse of its government. New elections were held in January 1980, and the Congress (I) Party, with Indira as its head, won back the lower Indian parliament in a stunning reversal of its political fortunes. Gandhi, embraced by Indians who valued her strong leadership, was again prime minister. The legal cases against her were subsequently dismissed.

In the early 1980s, several regional states intensified their call for greater autonomy from New Delhi, and the Sikh secessionist movement in Punjab resorted to violence and terrorism. In 1984, the Sikh leaders set up base in their sacred Golden Temple in Amritsar. Gandhi responded by sending the Indian army in, and hundreds of Sikhs were killed in the government assault. In retaliation, Sikh members of Gandhi's own bodyguard gunned her down on the grounds of her home on October 31, 1984. She was succeeded by her son, Rajiv Gandhi.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9a/Indira-Sapta.jpg/441px-Indira-Sapta.jpg


Jun 12, 1942:
Anne Frank receives a diary

On this day, Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl living in Amsterdam, receives a diary for her 13th birthday. A month later, she and her family went into hiding from the Nazis in rooms behind her father's office. For two years, the Franks and four other families hid, fed and cared for by Gentile friends. The families were discovered by the Gestapo, which had been tipped off, in 1944. The Franks were taken to Auschwitz, where Anne's mother died. Friends in Amsterdam searched the rooms and found Anne's diary hidden away.

Anne and her sister were transferred to another camp, Bergen-Belsen, where Anne died of typhus a month before the war ended.

Anne's father survived Auschwitz and published Anne's diary in 1947 as The Diary of a Young Girl. The book has been translated into more than 60 languages.
http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2010/01/12/article-1242426-07D3CCEB000005DC-750_634x423.jpg


Jun 12, 1994:
Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman murdered

Nicole Brown Simpson, famous football player O.J. Simpson's ex-wife, and her friend Ron Goldman are brutally stabbed to death outside Nicole's home in Brentwood, California, in what quickly becomes one of the most highly publicized trials of the century. With overwhelming evidence against him, including a prior record of domestic violence towards Brown, O.J. Simpson became the chief suspect.

Although he had agreed to turn himself in, Simpson escaped with friend A.C. Cowlings in his white Ford Bronco on June 17. He was carrying his passport, a disguise, and $8,750 in cash. Simpson's car was spotted that afternoon, but he refused to surrender immediately. Threatening to kill himself, he led police in a low-speed chase through the freeways of Los Angeles as the entire nation watched on television. Eventually, Simpson gave himself up at his home in Brentwood.

The evidence against Simpson was extensive: His blood was found at the murder scene; blood, hair, and fibers from Brown and Goldman were found in Simpson's car and at his home; one of his gloves was also found in Brown's home, the other outside his own house; and bloody shoeprints found at the scene matched those of shoes owned by Simpson.

However, Simpson's so-called "Dream Team" of defense lawyers, including Johnnie Cochran and F. Lee Bailey, claimed before a national television audience that Simpson had been framed by racist police officers such as Detective Mark Fuhrman. After deliberating for three hours, the jury acquitted Simpson. He vowed to find the "real killers," but has yet to turn up any new leads.

In a civil trial brought about by the families of the victims, Simpson was found responsible for causing Goldman's death and committing battery against Brown in February 1997, and was ordered to pay a total of $33.5 million, little of which he has paid.

In 2007, Simpson ran into legal problems once again when he was arrested for breaking into a Las Vegas hotel room and taking sports memorabilia, which he claimed had been stolen from him, at gunpoint. On October 3, 2008, he was found guilty of 12 charges related to the incident, including armed robbery and kidnapping, and sentenced to 33 years in prison.
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Jun 12, 1898:
Philippine independence declared

During the Spanish-American War, Filipino rebels led by Emilio Aguinaldo proclaim the independence of the Philippines after 300 years of Spanish rule. By mid-August, Filipino rebels and U.S. troops had ousted the Spanish, but Aguinaldo's hopes for independence were dashed when the United States formally annexed the Philippines as part of its peace treaty with Spain.

The Philippines, a large island archipelago situated off Southeast Asia, was colonized by the Spanish in the latter part of the 16th century. Opposition to Spanish rule began among Filipino priests, who resented Spanish domination of the Roman Catholic churches in the islands. In the late 19th century, Filipino intellectuals and the middle class began calling for independence. In 1892, the Katipunan, a secret revolutionary society, was formed in Manila, the Philippine capital on the island of Luzon. Membership grew dramatically, and in August 1896 the Spanish uncovered the Katipunan's plans for rebellion, forcing premature action from the rebels. Revolts broke out across Luzon, and in March 1897, 28-year-old Emilio Aguinaldo became leader of the rebellion.

By late 1897, the revolutionaries had been driven into the hills southeast of Manila, and Aguinaldo negotiated an agreement with the Spanish. In exchange for financial compensation and a promise of reform in the Philippines, Aguinaldo and his generals would accept exile in Hong Kong. The rebel leaders departed, and the Philippine Revolution temporarily was at an end.

In April 1898, the Spanish-American War broke out over Spain's brutal suppression of a rebellion in Cuba. The first in a series of decisive U.S. victories occurred on May 1, 1898, when the U.S. Asiatic Squadron under Commodore George Dewey annihilated the Spanish Pacific fleet at the Battle of Manila Bay in the Philippines. From his exile, Aguinaldo made arrangements with U.S. authorities to return to the Philippines and assist the United States in the war against Spain. He landed on May 19, rallied his revolutionaries, and began liberating towns south of Manila. On June 12, he proclaimed Philippine independence and established a provincial government, of which he subsequently became head.

His rebels, meanwhile, had encircled the Spanish in Manila and, with the support of Dewey's squadron in Manila Bay, would surely have conquered the Spanish. Dewey, however, was waiting for U.S. ground troops, which began landing in July and took over the Filipino positions surrounding Manila. On August 8, the Spanish commander informed the United States that he would surrender the city under two conditions: The United States was to make the advance into the capital look like a battle, and under no conditions were the Filipino rebels to be allowed into the city. On August 13, the mock Battle of Manila was staged, and the Americans kept their promise to keep the Filipinos out after the city passed into their hands.

While the Americans occupied Manila and planned peace negotiations with Spain, Aguinaldo convened a revolutionary assembly, the Malolos, in September. They drew up a democratic constitution, the first ever in Asia, and a government was formed with Aguinaldo as president in January 1899. On February 4, what became known as the Philippine Insurrection began when Filipino rebels and U.S. troops skirmished inside American lines in Manila. Two days later, the U.S. Senate voted by one vote to ratify the Treaty of Paris with Spain. The Philippines were now a U.S. territory, acquired in exchange for $20 million in compensation to the Spanish.

In response, Aguinaldo formally launched a new revolt--this time against the United States. The rebels, consistently defeated in the open field, turned to guerrilla warfare, and the U.S. Congress authorized the deployment of 60,000 troops to subdue them. By the end of 1899, there were 65,000 U.S. troops in the Philippines, but the war dragged on. Many anti-imperialists in the United States, such as Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, opposed U.S. annexation of the Philippines, but in November 1900 Republican incumbent William McKinley was reelected, and the war continued.

On March 23, 1901, in a daring operation, U.S. General Frederick Funston and a group of officers, pretending to be prisoners, surprised Aguinaldo in his stronghold in the Luzon village of Palanan and captured the rebel leader. Aguinaldo took an oath of allegiance to the United States and called for an end to the rebellion, but many of his followers fought on. During the next year, U.S. forces gradually pacified the Philippines. In an infamous episode, U.S. forces on the island of Samar retaliated against the massacre of a U.S. garrison by killing all men on the island above the age of 10. Many women and young children were also butchered. General Jacob Smith, who directed the atrocities, was court-martialed and forced to retire for turning Samar, in his words, into a "howling wilderness."

In 1902, an American civil government took over administration of the Philippines, and the three-year Philippine insurrection was declared to be at an end. Scattered resistance, however, persisted for several years.

More than 4,000 Americans perished suppressing the Philippines--more than 10 times the number killed in the Spanish-American War. More than 20,000 Filipino insurgents were killed, and an unknown number of civilians perished.

In 1935, the Commonwealth of the Philippines was established with U.S. approval, and Manuel Quezon was elected the country's first president. On July 4, 1946, full independence was granted to the Republic of the Philippines by the United States.
http://www.freewebs.com/philippineamericanwar/1898%20june%2012%20proclamation%20of%20philippine% 20independence%20in%20kawit,%20cavite.jpg

Duke of Buckingham
06-13-12, 04:07 AM
Jun 13, 1966:
The Miranda rights are established

On this day in 1966, the Supreme Court hands down its decision in Miranda v. Arizona, establishing the principle that all criminal suspects must be advised of their rights before interrogation. Now considered standard police procedure, "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can, and will, be used against you in court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you," has been heard so many times in television and film dramas that it has become almost cliche.

The roots of the Miranda decision go back to March 2, 1963, when an 18-year-old Phoenix woman told police that she had been abducted, driven to the desert and raped. Detectives questioning her story gave her a polygraph test, but the results were inconclusive. However, tracking the license plate number of a car that resembled that of her attacker's brought police to Ernesto Miranda, who had a prior record as a peeping tom. Although the victim did not identify Miranda in a line-up, he was brought into police custody and interrogated. What happened next is disputed, but officers left the interrogation with a confession that Miranda later recanted, unaware that he didn't have to say anything at all.

The confession was extremely brief and differed in certain respects from the victim's account of the crime. However, Miranda's appointed defense attorney (who was paid a grand total of $100) didn't call any witnesses at the ensuing trial, and Miranda was convicted. While Miranda was in Arizona state prison, the American Civil Liberties Union took up his appeal, claiming that the confession was false and coerced.

The Supreme Court overturned his conviction, but Miranda was retried and convicted in October 1966 anyway, despite the relative lack of evidence against him. Remaining in prison until 1972, Ernesto Miranda was later stabbed to death in the men's room of a bar after a poker game in January 1976.

As a result of the case against Miranda, each and every person must now be informed of his or her rights when arrested.
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Jun 13, 1971:
"Pentagon Papers" damage credibility of Cold War policy

The New York Times begins to publish sections of the so-called "Pentagon Papers," a top-secret Department of Defense study of America's involvement in the Vietnam War. The papers indicated that the American government had been lying to the people for years about the Vietnam War and the papers seriously damaged the credibility of America's Cold War foreign policy.

In 1967, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered his department to prepare an in-depth history of American involvement in the Vietnam War. McNamara had already begun to harbor serious doubts about U.S. policy in Vietnam, and the study--which came to be known as the "Pentagon Papers"--substantiated his misgivings. Top-secret memorandums, reports, and papers indicated that the U.S. government had systematically lied to the American people, deceiving them about American goals and progress in the war in Vietnam. The devastating multi-volume study remained locked away in a Pentagon safe for years. In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg, a Defense Department employee who had turned completely against the war, began to smuggle portions of the papers out of the Pentagon. These papers made their way to the New York Times, and on June 13, 1971, the American public read them in stunned amazement. The publication of the papers added further fuel to the already powerful antiwar movement and drove the administration of President Richard Nixon into a frenzy of paranoia about information "leaks." Nixon attempted to stop further publication of the papers, but the Supreme Court refused to issue an injunction.

The "Pentagon Papers" further eroded the American public's confidence in their nation's Cold War foreign policy. The brutal, costly, and seemingly endless Vietnam War had already damaged the government's credibility, and the publication of the "Pentagon Papers" showed people the true extent to which the government had manipulated and lied to them. Some of the most dramatic examples were documents indicating that the Kennedy administration had openly encouraged and participated in the overthrow of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963; that the CIA believed that the "domino theory" did not actually apply to Asia; and that the heavy American bombing of North Vietnam, contrary to U.S. government pronouncements about its success, was having absolutely no impact on the communists' will to continue the fight.
http://www.history.com/news/news/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/pentagon-papers-index.jpg


Jun 13, 323 B.C.:
Alexander the Great dies

Alexander the Great, the young Macedonian military genius who forged an empire stretching from the eastern Mediterranean to India, dies in Babylon, in present-day Iraq, at the age of 33.

Born in Macedonia to King Phillip II and Queen Olympias, Alexander received a classical education from famed philosopher Aristotle and a military education from his father. At the age of 16, Alexander led his first troops into combat and two years later commanded a large part of his father's army that won the Battle of Chaeronea and brought Greece under Macedonian rule. In 336 B.C., Phillip II was assassinated, and Alexander ascended to the throne.

Two years later, the young king led a large army into Asia Minor to carry out his father's plans for conquering Persia. Consistently outnumbered in his battles against superior Persian forces, Alexander displayed an unprecedented understanding of strategic military planning and tactical maneuvers. He never lost a single battle, and by 330 B.C. all of Persia and Asia Minor was under his sway. Within his empire, he founded great and lasting cities, such as Alexandria in Egypt, and brought about sweeping political and economic changes based on the advanced Greek models taught to him in his youth.

Although Alexander controlled the largest empire in the history of the world, he launched a new eastern campaign soon after his return from Persia. By 327 B.C., he had conquered Afghanistan, Central Asia, and northern India. In the next year, his army, exhausted after eight years of fighting, refused to go farther, and Alexander led them on a difficult journey home through the inhospitable Makran Desert.

Finally reaching Babylon, Alexander began constructing a large fleet to take his army back to Egypt. However, in June 323 B.C., just as the work on his ships was reaching its conclusion, Alexander fell sick after a prolonged banquet and drinking bout and died. Perhaps earnestly believing himself to be a god (as many of his subjects did), he had not selected a successor, and within a year of his death his army and his empire broke into a multitude of warring factions. His body was later returned to Alexandria, where it was laid to rest in a golden coffin.
http://www.history.co.uk/this-day-in-history/June-13/mainPhoto/alexander-the-graet.jpg


Jun 13, 1983:
Pioneer 10 departs solar system

After more than a decade in space, Pioneer 10, the world's first outer-planetary probe, leaves the solar system. The next day, it radioed back its first scientific data on interstellar space.

On March 2, 1972, the NASA spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a mission to Jupiter, the solar system's largest planet. In December 1973, after successfully negotiating the asteroid belt and a distance of 620 million miles, Pioneer 10 reached Jupiter and sent back to Earth the first close-up images of the spectacular gas giant. On June 13, 1983, the NASA spacecraft left the solar system. NASA officially ended the Pioneer 10 project on March 31, 1997, with the spacecraft having traveled a distance of some six billion miles.

Headed in the direction of the Taurus constellation, Pioneer 10 will pass within three light years of another star--Ross 246--in the year 34,600 A.D. Bolted to the probe's exterior wall is a gold-anodized plaque, 6 by 9 inches in area, that displays a drawing of a human man and woman, a star map marked with the location of the sun, and another map showing the flight path of Pioneer 10. The plaque, intended for intelligent life forms elsewhere in the galaxy, was designed by astronomer Carl Sagan.
http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/thisdayintech/2011/06/pioneer10_400px.jpg


Jun 13, 1972:
Hurricane Agnes is born

On this day in 1972, severe weather conditions over the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico begin to converge and form a tropical depression that would become Hurricane Agnes over the next two weeks. By the time the storm dissipated, damages were in the billions and 121 people were dead. Although incredibly strong winds hit the Florida coast, it was the immense amount of rain that the storm brought to the northeastern United States that proved to be most deadly.

Agnes was the first major storm of the 1972 hurricane season and it quickly raced across the Caribbean toward Cuba. On June 18, the speed of its winds reached 74 mph and it attained hurricane status. Apalachicola, Florida, took the brunt of Agnes as it hit the coastline; it suffered about $10 million in damages.

Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina were the next states on Agnes' path. Tornadoes and torrential rain buffeted the entire region and there was considerable flooding in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In all, an estimated 28 trillion gallons of water came out of the sky during the storm. Washington, D.C., saw so much rain that President Richard Nixon was unable to fly to the city in the aftermath of the Watergate break-in.

The worst flooding occurred in Pennsylvania and New York. The overflowing of the Susquehanna and Genesee Rivers killed 50 people in Pennsylvania, nearly half the entire casualty toll of the hurricane.
http://www.up-front.org/vintage_richmond/hurricane_agnes-main_street_station-small.jpg


Jun 13, 1381:
Peasant army marches into London

During the Peasants' Revolt, a large mob of English peasants led by Wat Tyler marches into London and begins burning and looting the city. Several government buildings were destroyed, prisoners were released, and a judge was beheaded along with several dozen other leading citizens.

The Peasants' Revolt had its origins in a severe manifestation of bubonic plague in the late 1340s, which killed nearly a third of the population of England. The scarcity of labor brought on by the Black Death led to higher wages and a more mobile peasantry. Parliament, however, resisted these changes to its traditional feudal system and passed laws to hold down wages while encouraging landlords to reassert their ancient manorial rights. In 1380, peasant discontent reached a breaking point when Parliament restricted voting rights through an increase of the poll tax, and the Peasants' Revolt began.

In Kent, a county in southeast England, the rebels chose Wat Tyler as their leader, and he led his growing "army" toward London, capturing the towns of Maidstone, Rochester, and Canterbury along the way. After he was denied a meeting with King Richard II, he led the rebels into London on June 13, 1381, burning and plundering the city. The next day, the 14-year-old king met with peasant leaders at Mile End and agreed to their demands to abolish serfdom and restrictions on the marketplace. However, fighting continued elsewhere at the same time, and Tyler led a peasant force against the Tower of London, capturing the fortress and executing the archbishop of Canterbury.

On June 15, the king met Tyler at Smithfield, and Tyler presented new demands, including one calling for the abolishment of church property. During the meeting, the mayor of London, angered at Tyler's arrogance in the presence of the king, lunged at the rebel leader with a sword, fatally wounding him. As Tyler lay dying on the ground, Richard managed to keep the peasant mob calm until the mayor returned with armed troops. Hundreds of rebels were executed and the rest dispersed. During the next few days, the Peasant Revolt was put down with severity all across England, and Richard revoked all the concessions he had made to the peasants at Mile End. For several weeks, Wat Tyler's head was displayed on a pole in a London field.
http://craighillnet.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/jun-13-wat-tyler-peasants-evolt-e1339509014182.jpg?w=750

invisy
06-13-12, 07:34 AM
Today in 1895, the “world’s first automobile race” was held in France – from PARIS to Bordeaux and back.
The Renault Team lined up before the start of the 1901 Paris-Bordeaux Race. From left to right: Louis Renault, Marcel Renault, Oury and Grus. (Photo: Sports Car Digest)

919

Duke of Buckingham
06-13-12, 09:55 AM
http://legendsrevealed.com/entertainment/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/wackyraces-431.jpg
They are very seemed with us.

Duke of Buckingham
06-14-12, 04:34 AM
Jun 14, 1777:
Congress adopts the Stars and Stripes

During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress adopts a resolution stating that "the flag of the United States be thirteen alternate stripes red and white" and that "the Union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation." The national flag, which became known as the "Stars and Stripes," was based on the "Grand Union" flag, a banner carried by the Continental Army in 1776 that also consisted of 13 red and white stripes. According to legend, Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross designed the new canton for the Stars and Stripes, which consisted of a circle of 13 stars and a blue background, at the request of General George Washington. Historians have been unable to conclusively prove or disprove this legend.

With the entrance of new states into the United States after independence, new stripes and stars were added to represent new additions to the Union. In 1818, however, Congress enacted a law stipulating that the 13 original stripes be restored and that only stars be added to represent new states.

On June 14, 1877, the first Flag Day observance was held on the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the Stars and Stripes. As instructed by Congress, the U.S. flag was flown from all public buildings across the country. In the years after the first Flag Day, several states continued to observe the anniversary, and in 1949 Congress officially designated June 14 as Flag Day, a national day of observance.
http://realestatemarbles.com/groves/files/2011/06/Flag-day1.jpg


Jun 14, 2002:
"The Bourne Identity," featuring famous Mini chase scene, is released

In one of the most memorable scenes in the film "The Bourne Identity," released on this day in 2002, the amnesiac assassin Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) drives a vintage Austin Mini Cooper through the traffic-heavy streets of Paris to evade his police and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) pursuers.

As the film begins, Bourne, an elite CIA-trained assassin, has gone AWOL following a failed operation. Suffering from amnesia, he struggles to find clues to his own identity, using his lethal skills along the way as his superiors and local law enforcement try to track him down. In Zurich, he meets Marie Kreutz (Franka Potente) and offers her $20,000 in cash to drive him from to Paris in her battered red Mini. Directed by Doug Liman and adapted from the bestselling 1980 novel by Robert Ludlum, "The Bourne Identity" takes place in diverse locations all over Europe, including Marseille, Zurich, the Alps, the French countryside, the Greek island of Santorini and of course Paris, scene of the famous car chase.

Beginning in front of the Gare du Nord train station, the scene was shot in a variety of locations around the city. "Buckle up," Bourne warns Kreutz, before maneuvering the tiny stick-shift Mini at high speeds through narrow alleyways, across sidewalks, down steps and up one-way streets the wrong way. The chase ends when one of the police officers pursuing the Mini crashes his motorcycle into a Peugeot 405, and Bourne drives the car into a parking garage. "Bourne Identity" producer Frank Marshall told USA Today that filmmakers used five different vintage Minis to make the film, and that only one of them was left when filming wrapped.

The diminutive Mini Cooper, a British-made sports car first produced in 1959, was a fixture in spy films of the 1960s and 1970s, including the classic 1969 film "The Italian Job," starring Michael Caine. In the 2002 comedy "Austin Powers in Goldmember," a character also played by Caine drives a modern version of the Mini, now manufactured by German automaker BMW; an updated version of "The Italian Job" in 2003 also featured the modern Mini.
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Jun 14, 1954:
First nationwide civil defense drill held

Over 12 million Americans "die" in a mock nuclear attack, as the United States goes through its first nationwide civil defense drill. Though American officials were satisfied with the results of the drill, the event stood as a stark reminder that the United States—and the world—was now living under a nuclear shadow.

The June 1954 civil defense drill was organized and evaluated by the Civil Defense Administration, and included operations in 54 cities in the United States, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Alaska, and Hawaii. Canada also participated in the exercise. The basic premise of the drill was that the United States was under massive nuclear assault from both aircraft and submarines, and that most major urban areas had been targeted. At 10 a.m., alarms were sounded in selected cities, at which time all citizens were supposed to get off the streets, seek shelter, and prepare for the onslaught. Each citizen was supposed to know where the closest fallout shelter was located; these included the basements of government buildings and schools, underground subway tunnels, and private shelters. Even President Dwight D. Eisenhower took part in the show, heading to an underground bunker in Washington, D.C. The entire drill lasted only about 10 minutes, at which time an all-clear signal was broadcast and life returned to normal. Civil Defense Administration officials estimated that New York City would suffer the most in such an attack, losing over 2 million people. Other cities, including Washington, D.C., would also endure massive loss of life. In all, it was estimated that over 12 million Americans would die in an attack.

Despite those rather mind-numbing figures, government officials pronounced themselves very pleased with the drill. Minor problems in communication occurred, and one woman in New York City managed to create a massive traffic jam by simply stopping her car in the middle of the road, leaping out, and running for cover. In most cities, however, the streets were deserted just moments after the alarms sounded and there were no signs of panic or criminal behavior. A more cautious assessment came from a retired military officer, who observed that the recent development of the hydrogen bomb by the Soviet Union had "outstripped the progress made in our civil defense strides to defend against it."
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Jun 14, 1985:
TWA flight 847 is hijacked by terrorists

TWA Flight 847 from Athens to Rome is hijacked by Shiite Hezbollah terrorists who immediately demand to know the identity of ''those with Jewish-sounding names." Two of the Lebanese terrorists, armed with grenades and a 9-mm. pistol, then forced the plane to land in Beirut, Lebanon.

Once on the ground, the hijackers called for passengers with Israeli passports, but there were none. Nor were there any diplomats on board. They then focused their attention on the several U.S. Navy construction divers aboard the plane. Soon after landing, the terrorists killed Navy diver Robert Stethem, and dumped his body on the runway.

TWA employee Uli Derickson was largely successful in protecting the few Jewish passengers aboard by refusing to identify them. Most of the passengers were released in the early hours of what turned out to be a 17-day ordeal, but five men were singled out and separated from the rest of the hostages. Of these five, only Richard Herzberg, an American, was Jewish.

During the next two weeks, Herzberg maintained to his attackers that he was a Lutheran of German and Greek ancestry. Along with the others, he was taken to a roach-infested holding cell somewhere in Beirut, where other Lebanese prisoners were being held. Fortunately, the TWA hostages were treated fairly well.

On June 30, after careful negotiations, the hostages were released unharmed. Since the terrorists were effectively outside the law's reach in Lebanon, it appeared as though the terrorists would go free from punishment. Yet, Mohammed Ali Hammadi, who was wanted for his role in TWA Flight 847 attack, was arrested nearly two years later at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, with explosives.

Within days of his arrest, two German citizens were kidnapped while in Lebanon in a successful attempt to discourage Germany from extraditing Hammadi to the United States for prosecution. Germany decided to try Hamadi instead, and he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, the maximum penalty under German law. He was released on parole in 2005 after serving 19 years. Since then, the United States has unsuccessfully petitioned for his extradition from Lebanon. Despite unconfirmed reports that Hammadi was killed by a CIA drone in Pakistan in June 2010, he remains on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists List along with his surviving accomplices.
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Jun 14, 1789:
Bounty mutiny survivors reach Timor

English Captain William Bligh and 18 others, cast adrift from the HMS Bounty seven weeks before, reach Timor in the East Indies after traveling nearly 4,000 miles in a small, open boat.

On April 28, Fletcher Christian, the master's mate on the Bounty, led a successful mutiny against Captain Bligh and his supporters. The British naval vessel had been transporting breadfruit saplings from Tahiti for planting on British colonies in the Caribbean. The voyage was difficult, and ill feelings were rampant between the captain, officers, and crew. Bligh, who eventually would fall prey to a total of three mutinies in his career, was an oppressive commander and insulted those under him. On April 28, near the island of Tonga, Christian and 25 petty officers and seamen seized the ship. The captain and 18 of his crew were set adrift in a small boat with 25 gallons of water, 150 pounds of bread, 30 pounds of pork, six quarts of rum, and six bottles of wine.

By setting the captain and his officers adrift in an overcrowded 23-foot-long boat in the middle of the Pacific, Christian and his conspirators had apparently handed them a death sentence. By remarkable seamanship, however, Bligh and his men reached Timor in the East Indies on June 14, 1789, after a voyage of about 3,600 miles. Bligh returned to England and soon sailed again to Tahiti, from where he successfully transported breadfruit trees to the West Indies.

Meanwhile, Christian and his men attempted to establish themselves on the island of Tubuai. Unsuccessful in their colonizing effort, the Bounty sailed north to Tahiti, and 16 crewmen decided to stay there, despite the risk of capture by British authorities. Christian and eight others, together with six Tahitian men, a dozen Tahitian women, and a child, decided to search the South Pacific for a safe haven. In January 1790, the Bounty settled on Pitcairn Island, an isolated and uninhabited volcanic island more than 1,000 miles east of Tahiti. The mutineers who remained on Tahiti were captured and taken back to England, where three were hanged. A British ship searched for Christian and the others but did not find them.

In 1808, an American whaling vessel was drawn to Pitcairn by smoke from a cooking fire. The Americans discovered a community of children and women led by John Adams, the sole survivor of the original nine mutineers. According to Adams, after settling on Pitcairn the colonists had stripped and burned the Bounty, and internal strife and sickness had led to the death of Fletcher and all the men but Adams. In 1825, a British ship arrived and formally granted Adams amnesty, and he served as patriarch of the Pitcairn community until his death in 1829.

In 1831, the Pitcairn islanders were resettled on Tahiti, but unsatisfied with life there they soon returned to their native island. In 1838, the Pitcairn Islands, which includes three nearby uninhabited islands, were incorporated into the British Empire. By 1855, Pitcairn's population had grown to nearly 200, and the two-square-mile island could not sustain its residents. In 1856, the islanders were removed to Norfolk Island, a formal penal colony nearly 4,000 miles to the west. However, less than two years later, 17 of the islanders returned to Pitcairn, followed by more families in 1864. Today, around 40 people live on Pitcairn Island, and all but a handful are descendants of the Bounty mutineers. About a thousand residents of Norfolk Island (half its population) trace their lineage from Fletcher Christian and the eight other Englishmen.
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Jun 14, 1846:
California's Bear Flag revolt begins

Anticipating the outbreak of war with Mexico, American settlers in California rebel against the Mexican government and proclaim the short-lived California Republic.

The political situation in California was tense in 1846. Though nominally controlled by Mexico, California was home to only a relatively small number of Mexican settlers. Former citizens of the United States made up the largest segment of the California population, and their numbers were quickly growing. Mexican leaders worried that many American settlers were not truly interested in becoming Mexican subjects and would soon push for annexation of California to the United States. For their part, the Americans distrusted their Mexican leaders. When rumors of an impending war between the U.S. and Mexico reached California, many Americans feared the Mexicans might make a preemptive attack to forestall rebellion.

In the spring of 1846, the American army officer and explorer John C. Fremont arrived at Sutter's Fort (near modern-day Sacramento) with a small corps of soldiers. Whether or not Fremont had been specifically ordered to encourage an American rebellion is unclear. Ostensibly, Fremont and his men were in the area strictly for the purposes of making a scientific survey. The brash young officer, however, began to persuade a motley mix of American settlers and adventurers to form militias and prepare for a rebellion against Mexico.

Emboldened by Fremont's encouragement, on this day in 1846 a party of 33 Americans under the leadership of Ezekiel Merritt and William Ide invaded the largely defenseless Mexican outpost of Sonoma just north of San Francisco. Fremont and his soldiers did not participate, though he had given his tacit approval of the attack. Merritt and his men surrounded the home of the retired Mexican general, Mariano Vallejo, and informed him that he was a prisoner of war. Vallejo, who was actually a strong supporter of American annexation, was more puzzled than alarmed by the rebels. He invited Merritt and a few of the other men into his home to discuss the situation over brandy. After several hours passed, Ide went in and spoiled what had turned into pleasant chat by arresting Vallejo and his family.

Having won a bloodless victory at Sonoma, Merritt and Ide then proceeded to declare California an independent republic. With a cotton sheet and some red paint, they constructed a makeshift flag with a crude drawing of a grizzly bear, a lone red star (a reference to the earlier Lone Star Republic of Texas), and the words "California Republic" at the bottom. From then on, the independence movement was known as the Bear Flag Revolt.

After the rebels won a few minor skirmishes with Mexican forces, Fremont officially took command of the "Bear Flaggers" and occupied the unguarded presidio of San Francisco on July 1. Six days later, Fremont learned that American forces under Commodore John D. Sloat had taken Monterey without a fight and officially raised the American flag over California. Since the ultimate goal of the Bear Flaggers was to make California part of the U.S., they now saw little reason to preserve their "government." Three weeks after it had been proclaimed, the California Republic quietly faded away. Ironically, the Bear Flag itself proved far more enduring than the republic it represented: it became the official state flag when California joined the union in 1850.
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Duke of Buckingham
06-15-12, 05:35 AM
Jun 15, 1215:
Magna Carta sealed

Following a revolt by the English nobility against his rule, King John puts his royal seal on the Magna Carta, or "Great Charter." The document, essentially a peace treaty between John and his barons, guaranteed that the king would respect feudal rights and privileges, uphold the freedom of the church, and maintain the nation's laws. Although more a reactionary than a progressive document in its day, the Magna Carta was seen as a cornerstone in the development of democratic England by later generations.

John was enthroned as king of England following the death of his brother, King Richard the Lion-Hearted, in 1199. King John's reign was characterized by failure. He lost the duchy of Normandy to the French king and taxed the English nobility heavily to pay for his foreign misadventures. He quarreled with Pope Innocent III and sold church offices to build up the depleted royal coffers. Following the defeat of a campaign to regain Normandy in 1214, Stephen Langton, the archbishop of Canterbury, called on the disgruntled barons to demand a charter of liberties from the king.

In 1215, the barons rose up in rebellion against the king's abuse of feudal law and custom. John, faced with a superior force, had no choice but to give in to their demands. Earlier kings of England had granted concessions to their feudal barons, but these charters were vaguely worded and issued voluntarily. The document drawn up for John in June 1215, however, forced the king to make specific guarantees of the rights and privileges of his barons and the freedom of the church. On June 15, 1215, John met the barons at Runnymede on the Thames and set his seal to the Articles of the Barons, which after minor revision was formally issued as the Magna Carta.

The charter consisted of a preamble and 63 clauses and dealt mainly with feudal concerns that had little impact outside 13th century England. However, the document was remarkable in that it implied there were laws the king was bound to observe, thus precluding any future claim to absolutism by the English monarch. Of greatest interest to later generations was clause 39, which stated that "no free man shall be arrested or imprisoned or disseised [dispossessed] or outlawed or exiled or in any way victimised...except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land." This clause has been celebrated as an early guarantee of trial by jury and of habeas corpus and inspired England's Petition of Right (1628) and the Habeas Corpus Act (1679).

In immediate terms, the Magna Carta was a failure--civil war broke out the same year, and John ignored his obligations under the charter. Upon his death in 1216, however, the Magna Carta was reissued with some changes by his son, King Henry III, and then reissued again in 1217. That year, the rebellious barons were defeated by the king's forces. In 1225, Henry III voluntarily reissued the Magna Carta a third time, and it formally entered English statute law.

The Magna Carta has been subject to a great deal of historical exaggeration; it did not establish Parliament, as some have claimed, nor more than vaguely allude to the liberal democratic ideals of later centuries. However, as a symbol of the sovereignty of the rule of law, it was of fundamental importance to the constitutional development of England. Four original copies of the Magna Carta of 1215 exist today: one in Lincoln Cathedral, one in Salisbury Cathedral, and two in the British Museum.
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Jun 15, 1946:
The United States presents the Baruch Plan

The United States presents the Baruch Plan for the international control of atomic weapons to the United Nations. The failure of the plan to gain acceptance resulted in a dangerous nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

In August 1945, the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, becoming the first and only nation to use nuclear weapons during wartime. The successful use of the bombs not only ended World War II, but also left the United States with a monopoly on the most destructive weapon known to humankind. As Cold War animosities between the United States and the Soviet Union began to develop in the months after the end of the war, a sharp discussion ensued in the administration of President Harry S. Truman. Some officials, including Secretary of War Henry R. Stimson and Secretary of Commerce Henry Wallace, argued that the United States should share its atomic secrets with the Soviets. The continuing U.S. monopoly, they argued, would only result in growing Russian suspicions and an eventual arms race. Others, such as State Department official George F. Kennan, strenuously argued against this position. The Soviets, these people declared, could not be trusted and the United States would be foolish to relinquish its atomic "ace in the hole."

The battle between these two groups was apparent in early 1946, when the United States proposed the formation of the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission (UNAEC) to establish an international control over the spread and development of nuclear weapons and technology. Bernard Baruch, a trusted adviser to U.S. presidents since the early 20th century, was tapped to formulate the American proposal and present it to the United Nations. Baruch sided with those who feared the Soviets, and his proposal reflected this. His proposal did provide for international control and inspection of nuclear production facilities, but clearly announced that the United States would maintain its nuclear weapons monopoly until every aspect of the proposal was in effect and working. The Soviets, not surprisingly, rejected the Baruch Plan. The United States thereupon rejected a Soviet counterproposal for a ban on all nuclear weapons.

By 1949, any discussion of international control of nuclear weapons was a moot point. In September of that year, the Soviets successfully tested a nuclear device. During the next few years the United States and Soviet Union raced to develop an ever-more frightening arsenal of nuclear weapons, including the hydrogen bomb, MIRV missiles (missiles with multiple nuclear warheads), and the neutron bomb (designed to kill people but leave structures standing).
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Jun 15, 2005:
Police search Van der Sloot home in Holloway disappearance

On this day in 2005, more than two weeks after American teen Natalee Holloway vanished while on a high school graduation trip to the Caribbean island of Aruba, police there search the home of 17-year-old Joran Van der Sloot, one of the last known people to see the young woman alive. Although Van der Sloot would emerge as a prime suspect in the case, he was never charged. Holloway’s disappearance generated massive media attention in the United States; however, her body never has been found, and in 2012 she was declared legally dead.

Holloway, an 18-year-old from Mountain Brook, Alabama, was last seen leaving an Aruban bar and restaurant with Van der Sloot and two of his friends, Deepak Kalpoe, 21, and Satish Kalpoe, 18, in the early hours of May 30. The young men initially claimed they dropped the blonde teen at her hotel around 2 a.m.; however, the three, who were arrested on June 9, later changed their stories. Van der Sloot reportedly admitted to being alone with Holloway on the beach on May 30, after being dropped there by the Kalpoe brothers, but said he never harmed her. After a judge deemed there was not enough evidence to hold them, the Kalpoes were released from custody in early July. Van der Sloot, who was born in the Netherlands and raised in Dutch-speaking Aruba, was released in September. A string of additional suspects were detained but no charges were filed. Despite extensive searches of the island and surrounding ocean by investigators and volunteers, the case remained unsolved.

In 2007, police re-arrested Van der Sloot and the Kalpoes in connection with Holloway’s disappearance, but once again soon released them due to insufficient evidence. The following year, a Dutch television program aired a secretly made tape in which Van der Sloot alleged Holloway had collapsed on the beach, and that after failing to revive her he had disposed of her body. He later retracted this statement.

On June 3, 2010, Van der Sloot was arrested in South America in connection with the slaying of 21-year-old Stephany Flores, in Lima, Peru. Flores was murdered on May 30, 2010, exactly five years to the day after Holloway went missing. Van der Sloot met the Peruvian college student at a Lima casino while he was there for a poker tournament. After Flores was found dead in a hotel room, beaten and with a broken neck, hotel surveillance video linked the Dutchman to the crime. After his arrest, he admitted to Peruvian authorities he had killed Flores following an argument. However, he later recanted this confession, saying he was frightened and confused when he made it. On the day Van der Sloot was arrested in South America, U.S. authorities issued a warrant for his arrest in connection with a plot to extort $250,000 from Holloway’s family in exchange for revealing the location of her remains.

On January 11, 2012, Van der Sloot, who has been behind bars in Peru since his June 2010 arrest, pleaded guilty in a Lima courtroom to Flores’ murder. His lawyer contended the Dutchman killed Flores due to “extreme psychological trauma” after being accused in Holloway’s disappearance. Van der Sloot was sentenced to 28 years in prison.

One day before the sentencing in Peru, a judge in Birmingham, Alabama, signed an order declaring Natalee Holloway legally dead. The judge made the ruling at the request of Holloway’s father, so that he could settle his daughter’s estate.
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Jun 15, 1877:
First African American graduate of West Point

Henry Ossian Flipper, born a slave in Thomasville, Georgia, in 1856, is the first African American cadet to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Flipper, who was never spoken to by a white cadet during his four years at West Point, was appointed a second lieutenant in the all-African American 10th Cavalry, stationed at Fort Sill in Indian Territory.

The United States Military Academy--the first military school in America--was founded by Congress in 1802 for the purpose of educating and training young men in the theory and practice of military science. Established at West Point, New York, the U.S. Military Academy is often simply known as West Point.

Located on the high west bank of New York's Hudson River, West Point was the site of a Revolutionary-era fort built to protect the Hudson River Valley from British attack. In 1780, Patriot General Benedict Arnold, the commander of the fort, agreed to surrender West Point to the British in exchange for 6,000 pounds. However, the plot was uncovered before it fell into British hands, and Arnold fled to the British for protection.

Ten years after the establishment of the U.S. Military Academy in 1802, the growing threat of another war with Great Britain resulted in congressional action to expand the academy's facilities and increase the West Point corps. Beginning in 1817, the U.S. Military Academy was reorganized by superintendent Sylvanus Thayer--later known as the "father of West Point"--and the school became one of the nation's finest sources of civil engineers. During the Mexican-American War, West Point graduates filled the leading ranks of the victorious U.S. forces, and with the outbreak of the Civil War former West Point classmates regretfully lined up against one another in the defense of their native states.

In 1870, the first African American cadet, James Webster Smith, was admitted into the academy but never reached the graduation ceremonies. It was not until 1877 that Henry Ossian Flipper became the first to graduate, after enduring four years of prejudice and silence. In 1976, the first female cadets were admitted into West Point. The academy is now under the general direction and supervision of the department of the U.S. Army and has an enrollment of more than 4,000 students.
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Jun 15, 1863:
Lincoln calls for help

On this day in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln calls for help in protecting Washington, D.C., America’s capital city.

Throughout June, Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia was on the move. He had pulled his army from its position along the Rappahannock River around Fredericksburg, Virginia, and set it on the road to Pennsylvania. Lee and the Confederate leadership decided to try a second invasion of the North to take pressure off Virginia and to seize the initiative against the Army of the Potomac. The first invasion, in September 1862, failed when the Federals fought Lee's army to a standstill at the Battle of Antietam in Maryland.

Lee later divided his army and sent the regiments toward the Shenandoah Valley, using the Blue Ridge Mountains as a screen. After the Confederates took Winchester, Virginia, on June 14, they were situated on the Potomac River, seemingly in a position to move on Washington, D.C. Lincoln did not know it, but Lee had no intention of attacking Washington. All Lincoln knew was that the Rebel army was moving en masse and that Union troops could not be certain as to the Confederates' location.

On June 15, Lincoln put out an emergency call for 100,000 troops from the state militias of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, and West Virginia. Although the troops were not needed, and the call could not be fulfilled in such a short time, it was an indication of how little the Union authorities knew of Lee's movements and how vulnerable they thought the Federal capital was.
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Jun 15, 1846:
Francis Parkman arrives at Fort Laramie

Francis Parkman, one of the first serious historians to study the American West, arrives at Fort Laramie and prepares for a summer of research with the Sioux.

Parkman was an unlikely frontiersman. The son of a prominent Boston family, he was an impeccably proper gentleman of independent means who was more at home among the ivory towers of Harvard than the tepees of the Sioux. Yet, after graduating from Harvard in 1846, Parkman set out to write the definitive history of the French and Indian Wars of 1689 to 1763. To set the stage for the wars, he wished to discuss the life of the Northeastern Native Americans before the arrival of Europeans, but could find few useful sources on the subject. Parkman reasoned that the still relatively untouched tribes of the Western plains would provide him with insights into pre-Columbian Indian life. In 1846, he headed west to spend a summer among the Plains Indians.

Traveling with an experienced trapper named Henry Chatillon as a guide, Parkman followed the Oregon Trail west for three months. On this day in 1846, he arrived at Fort Laramie in present-day Wyoming. Parkman was overjoyed to learn that a party of Oglala Sioux was gathering nearby in preparation for a summer war with their enemies, the Snake. Certain that all Indians were bloodthirsty savages eager to fight, Parkman viewed the approaching war as an opportunity to witness the Indian's true nature. Soon after, though, he heard that the Sioux had decided to abandon the warpath for that summer. For the first time, Parkman began to question the accuracy of the stereotypical white view of the Indians.

If he was fully to understand the Sioux, Parkman believed, he would need to "become, as it were, one of them." Luckily, his guide Chatillon was married to a daughter of a Sioux chief, and the trapper managed to persuade the chief to allow Parkman to travel with the Sioux for a summer. A prominent warrior named Big Crow (Kongra-Tonga) agreed to share his tepee with Parkman and watch over the inexperienced Bostonian.

In the months that followed, many of Parkman's preconceived notions about Indians melted away. Though Big Crow and other warriors proudly described their often-brutal fights with enemy tribes, Parkman also discovered the Sioux were a warm and generous people. "Both Kongra-Tonga [Big Crow] and his squaw," he noted, "like most other Indians, were very fond of their children, whom they indulged to excess and never punished except in extreme cases." Observing that they would at times give away all of their possessions, he concluded that the Sioux, "though often rapacious, are devoid of avarice."

After six months in the West, Parkman returned to Boston and wrote a compelling account of his summer with the Sioux. Published in 1849, The Oregon Trail was both a fascinating travel book and an important work of ethnography. Initially, Parkman thought of his first book as little more than a preface to the works of history he subsequently produced. Only later in life did he realize it was an important work, an "image of an irrevocable past." Indeed, Parkman's portrait of the Sioux continues to be a valuable window into Plains Indian life before it was changed by the advancing front of Anglo-American settlement.
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Duke of Buckingham
06-16-12, 06:15 AM
Jun 16, 1884:
First roller coaster in America opens

On this day in 1884, the first roller coaster in America opens at Coney Island, in Brooklyn, New York. Known as a switchback railway, it was the brainchild of LaMarcus Thompson, traveled approximately six miles per hour and cost a nickel to ride. The new entertainment was an instant success and by the turn of the century there were hundreds of roller coasters around the country.

Coney Island, a name believed to have come from the Dutch Konijn Eilandt, or Rabbit Island, is a tract of land along the Atlantic Ocean discovered by explorer Henry Hudson in 1609. The first hotel opened at Coney Island in 1829 and by the post-Civil War years, the area was an established resort with theaters, restaurants and a race track. Between 1897 and 1904, three amusement parks sprang up at Coney Island--Dreamland, Luna Park and Steeplechase. By the 1920s, Coney Island was reachable by subway and summer crowds of a million people a day flocked there for rides, games, sideshows, the beach and the two-and-a-half-mile boardwalk, completed in 1923.

The hot dog is said to have been invented at Coney Island in 1867 by Charles Feltman. In 1916, a nickel hot dog stand called Nathan's was opened by a former Feltman employee and went on to become a Coney Island institution and international franchise. Today, Nathan's is famous not only for its hot dogs but its hot dog-eating contest, held each Fourth of July in Coney Island. In 2006, Takeru Kobayashi set a new record when he ate 53.75 hot dogs with buns in 12 minutes.

Roller coasters and amusement parks experienced a decline during the Great Depression and World War II, when Americans had less cash to spend on entertainment. Finally, in 1955, the opening of Disneyland in Anaheim, California, signaled the advent of the modern theme park and a rebirth of the roller coaster. Disneyland's success sparked a wave of new parks and coasters. By the 1970s, parks were competing to create the most thrilling rides. In 2005, Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, introduced the Kingda Ka roller coaster, the world's tallest (at 456 feet) and fastest (at 128 mph).

By the mid-1960s, the major amusement parks at Coney Island had shut down and the area acquired a seedy image. Nevertheless, Coney Island remains a tourist attraction and home to the Cyclone, a wooden coaster that made its debut there in 1927. Capable of speeds of 60 mph and with an 85-foot drop, the Cyclone is one of the country's oldest coasters in operation today. Though a real-estate developer recently announced the building of a new $1.5 billion year-round resort at Coney Island that will include a 4,000-foot-long roller coaster, an indoor water park and a multi-level carousel, the Cyclone's owners have said they plan to keep the historic coaster open for business.
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Jun 16, 1961:
Russian ballet star Nureyev defects

Rudolf Nureyev, the young star of the Soviet Union's Kirov Opera Ballet Company, defects during a stopover in Paris. The high-profile defection was a blow to Soviet prestige and generated international interest.

Nureyev became a star of Russian ballet in 1958 when, at barely 20 years old, he was made one of the Kirov Opera Ballet's featured soloists. The Kirov and the Bolshoi ballet companies were two of the jewels of Soviet cultural diplomacy, and their performances earned worldwide accolades and respect for the arts in the USSR. In June 1961, the Kirov Company finished a run in Paris. On June 16, just as the company was preparing to board a flight home, Nureyev broke from the group and insisted that he was staying in France. According to eyewitnesses, other members of the troupe pleaded with Nureyev to rejoin them and return to the Soviet Union. The dancer refused and threw himself into the arms of airport security people, screaming, "Protect me!" The security officials took Nureyev into custody, whereupon he asked for political asylum. The Kirov Company fretted over the loss of its star and Soviet security guards fumed over Nureyev's defection. Eventually, the troupe flew back to Russia without the dancer.

Nureyev's high-profile defection was a double blow to the Soviet Union. First, it detracted from the quality of the Kirov Company, which had featured the young prodigy prominently in its performances throughout the world. Second, it severely damaged Soviet propaganda that touted the political and artistic freedom in Russia.

Nureyev continued with his career after his defection. During the next 30 years he danced with England's Royal Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre. He was in great demand as both a dancer and choreographer, and even made a few films (including a disastrous turn as the silent film star Rudolf Valentino). In 1983, he took over as ballet director of the Paris Opera. In 1989, he briefly returned to the Soviet Union to perform. He died in Paris in 1993.
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Jun 16, 1999:
SLA member captured after more than 20 years

On this day in 1999, Kathleen Ann Soliah, a former member of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), is arrested near her home in St. Paul, Minnesota. Soliah, who now calls herself Sara Jane Olsen, had been evading authorities for more than 20 years.

In the mid-1970s, the SLA, a small, radical American paramilitary group, made a name for itself with a series of murders, robberies and other violent acts. They were most well-known for the 1974 kidnapping of heiress Patty Hearst, who became a member of the group. In April 1975, members of the SLA robbed a bank in Carmichael, California, and, in the process, killed one of the bank's customers, Myrna Opsahl. According to Patty Hearst, who served as the group's getaway driver that day, Soliah took part in the robbery.

Four months later, in August 1975, Lost Angeles policemen discovered a bomb where one of their patrol cars had earlier been parked. Though police believe it had been designed to explode when the car moved, it had failed to detonate. Soliah was indicted for the crime in 1976 but by then she had already left town, and did not return, becoming a fugitive for nearly 23 years. Soliah eventually settled with her husband, a doctor, and three children in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she continued to advocate for various causes under the assumed name Sara Jane Olsen.

In the spring of 1999, however, Soliah's case was featured on an episode of television's America's Most Wanted; she was arrested several weeks later. In 2002, as part of a plea bargain, she pled guilty to two counts of planting bombs and was sentenced to five years and four months in jail. The Board of Prison Terms then changed her sentence to 14 years. After pleading guilty to the attempted bombings, she was arraigned for the Opsahl killing and was later convicted and sentenced to another six years.

In 2004, a judge threw out the adjusted 14-year term, saying the board "abused its discretion" in changing the sentence. She was released from a California prison in March 2009.
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Jun 16, 1958:
Leader of Hungarian uprising executed

Imre Nagy, a former Hungarian premier and symbol of the nation's 1956 uprising against Soviet rule, is hanged for treason by his country's communist authorities.

After becoming premier of communist Hungary in 1953, Nagy enacted a series of liberal reforms and opposed Soviet interference in his country's affairs. He was removed from office in 1955 and expelled from the Hungarian Communist Party in 1956. On October 23, 1956, in response to the communist backlash against Nagy and his reforms, Hungarian students and workers took to the streets of Budapest in anti-Soviet demonstrations. Within days, the uprising escalated into a full-scale national revolt, and the Hungarian government fell into chaos. Nagy joined the revolution and was reinstated as Hungarian premier, but his minister Janos Kadar formed a counter-regime and asked the USSR to intervene.

On November 4, a massive Soviet force of 200,000 troops and 2,500 tanks entered Hungary. Nagy took refuge in the Yugoslav embassy but was later arrested by Soviet agents after leaving the embassy under a safe-conduct pledge. Nearly 200,000 Hungarians fled the country, and thousands of people were arrested, killed, or executed before the Hungarian uprising was finally suppressed. Nagy was later handed over to the regime of Janos Kadar, who convicted and executed him for treason. On June 16, 1989, as communism crumbled in Hungary, Nagy's body was officially reburied with full honors. Some 300,000 Hungarians attended the service.
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Jun 16, 1963:
First woman in space

On June 16, 1963, aboard Vostok 6, Soviet Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman to travel into space. After 48 orbits and 71 hours, she returned to earth, having spent more time in space than all U.S. astronauts combined to that date.

Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova was born to a peasant family in Maslennikovo, Russia, in 1937. She began work at a textile factory when she was 18, and at age 22 she made her first parachute jump under the auspices of a local aviation club. Her enthusiasm for skydiving brought her to the attention of the Soviet space program, which sought to put a woman in space in the early 1960s as a means of achieving another "space first" before the United States. As an accomplished parachutist, Tereshkova was well equipped to handle one of the most challenging procedures of a Vostok space flight: the mandatory ejection from the capsule at about 20,000 feet during reentry. In February 1962, she was selected along with three other woman parachutists and a female pilot to begin intensive training to become a cosmonaut.

In 1963, Tereshkova was chosen to take part in the second dual flight in the Vostok program, involving spacecrafts Vostok 5 and Vostok 6. On June 14, 1963, Vostok 5 was launched into space with cosmonaut Valeri Bykovsky aboard. With Bykovsky still orbiting the earth, Tereshkova was launched into space on June 16 aboard Vostok 6. The two spacecrafts had different orbits but at one point came within three miles of each other, allowing the two cosmonauts to exchange brief communications. Tereshkova's spacecraft was guided by an automatic control system, and she never took manual control. On June 19, after just under three days in space, Vostok 6 reentered the atmosphere, and Tereshkova successfully parachuted to earth after ejecting at 20,000 feet. Bykovsky and Vostok 5 landed safely a few hours later.

After her historic space flight, Valentina Tereshkova received the Order of Lenin and Hero of the Soviet Union awards. In November 1963, she married fellow cosmonaut Andrian Nikolayev, reportedly under pressure from Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, who saw a propaganda advantage in the pairing of the two single cosmonauts. The couple made several goodwill trips abroad, had a daughter, and later separated. In 1966, Tereshkova became a member of the Supreme Soviet, the USSR's national parliament, and she served as the Soviet representative to numerous international women's organizations and events. She never entered space again, and hers was the last space flight by a female cosmonaut until the 1980s.

The United States screened a group of female pilots in 1959 and 1960 for possible astronaut training but later decided to restrict astronaut qualification to men. The first American woman in space was astronaut and physicist Sally Ride, who served as mission specialist on a flight of the space shuttle Challenger in 1983.
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invisy
06-16-12, 07:20 AM
See Emily Play, backed with The Scarecrow, was released as a UK single today in 1967. The cover was drawn by Syd Barrett...
931

Duke of Buckingham
06-17-12, 05:10 AM
Jun 17, 1885:
Statue of Liberty arrives



On this day in 1885, the dismantled State of Liberty, a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of America, arrives in New York Harbor after being shipped across the Atlantic Ocean in 350 individual pieces packed in more than 200 cases. The copper and iron statue, which was reassembled and dedicated the following year in a ceremony presided over by U.S. President Grover Cleveland, became known around the world as an enduring symbol of freedom and democracy.

Intended to commemorate the American Revolution and a century of friendship between the U.S. and France, the statue was designed by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi (who modeled it after his own mother), with assistance from engineer Gustave Eiffel, who later developed the iconic tower in Paris bearing his name. The statue was initially scheduled to be finished by 1876, the 100th anniversary of America’s Declaration of Independence; however, fundraising efforts, which included auctions, a lottery and boxing matches, took longer than anticipated, both in Europe and the U.S., where the statue’s pedestal was to be financed and constructed. The statue alone cost the French an estimated $250,000 (more than $5.5 million in today’s money).

Finally completed in Paris in the summer of 1884, the statue, a robed female figure with an uplifted arm holding a torch, reached its new home on Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor (between New York City and Hudson County, New Jersey) on June 17, 1885. After being reassembled, the 450,000-pound statue was officially dedicated on October 28, 1886, by President Cleveland, who said, “We will not forget that Liberty has here made her home; nor shall her chosen altar be neglected.” Standing more than 305 feet from the foundation of its pedestal to the top of its torch, the statue, dubbed “Liberty Enlightening the World” by Bartholdi, was taller than any structure in New York City at the time. The statue was originally copper-colored, but over the years it underwent a natural color-change process called patination that produced its current greenish-blue hue.

In 1892, Ellis Island, located near Bedloe's Island (which in 1956 was renamed Liberty Island), opened as America’s chief immigration station, and for the next 62 years Lady Liberty, as the statue is nicknamed, stood watch over the more than 12 million immigrants who sailed into New York Harbor. In 1903, a plaque inscribed with a sonnet titled “The New Colossus” by American poet Emma Lazarus, written 20 years earlier for a pedestal fundraiser, was placed on an interior wall of the pedestal. Lazarus’ now-famous words, which include “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” became symbolic of America’s vision of itself as a land of opportunity for immigrants.

Some 60 years after President Calvin Coolidge designated the statue a national monument in 1924, it underwent a multi-million-dollar restoration (which included a new torch and gold leaf-covered flame) and was rededicated by President Ronald Reagan on July 4, 1986, in a lavish celebration. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the statue was closed; its base, pedestal and observation deck re-opened in 2004, while its crown re-opened to the public on July 4, 2009. (For safety reasons, the torch has been closed to visitors since 1916, after an incident called the Black Tom explosions in which munitions-laden barges and railroad cars on the Jersey City, New Jersey, waterfront were blown up by German agents, causing damage to the nearby statue.)

Today, the Statue of Liberty is one of America’s most famous landmarks. Over the years, it has been the site of political rallies and protests (from suffragettes to anti-war activists), has been featured in numerous movies and countless photographs, and has received millions of visitors from around the globe.
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Jun 17, 1994:
O.J. Simpson leads L.A. police on a high-speed chase



Viewers across the nation are glued to their television screens on this day in 1994, watching as a fleet of black-and-white police cars pursues a white Ford Bronco along Interstate-405 in Los Angeles, California. Inside the Bronco is Orenthal James "O.J." Simpson, a former professional football player, actor and sports commentator whom police suspected of involvement in the recent murders of his former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.

The bodies of Brown Simpson and Goldman were found outside her home in the exclusive Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood shortly after midnight on June 13, 1994. Bloodstains matching Simpson's blood type were found at the crime scene, and the star had become the focus of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) investigation by the morning of June 17. When police arrived to arrest Simpson at the home of his friend and lawyer, Robert Kardashian, they found that Simpson had slipped out the back door with his former college and Buffalo Bills teammate Al Cowlings. The two men had then driven off in Cowlings' white Ford Bronco.

After a news conference--in which his lawyer, Howard Shapiro, announced that Simpson was distraught and might attempt suicide--the LAPD officially declared the former football star a fugitive. Around 7 p.m. PST, police located the white Bronco by tracing calls made from Simpson's cellular phone. Simpson was reported to be in the back seat of the vehicle, holding a gun to his head. With news helicopters following the chase from above and cameras broadcasting the dramatic events live to millions of astonished viewers, vehicles from the LAPD and California Highway Patrol pursued the Bronco for about an hour as it traveled at some 35 miles per hour along I-405. Finally, after about an hour, the Bronco pulled into the driveway of Simpson's Brentwood home. He emerged from the car close to 9 pm and was immediately arrested and booked on double murder charges.

The trial that followed gripped the nation, inspiring unprecedented media scrutiny along with heated debates about racial discrimination on the part of the police. Though a jury acquitted Simpson of the murder charges in October 1995, a separate civil trial in 1997 found him liable for the deaths and ordered him to pay $33.5 million in damages to the Brown and Goldman families

In 2007, Simpson ran into legal problems once again when he was arrested for breaking into a Las Vegas hotel room and taking sports memorabilia, which he claimed had been stolen from him, at gunpoint. On October 3, 2008, he was found guilty of 12 charges related to the incident, including armed robbery and kidnapping, and sentenced to 33 years in prison.
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Jun 17, 1953:
Soviets crush antigovernment riots in East Berlin



The Soviet Union orders an entire armored division of its troops into East Berlin to crush a rebellion by East German workers and antigovernment protesters. The Soviet assault set a precedent for later interventions into Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968.

The riots in East Berlin began among construction workers, who took to the streets on June 16, 1953, to protest an increase in work schedules by the communist government of East Germany. By the next day, the crowd of disgruntled workers and other antigovernment dissidents had grown to between 30,000 and 50,000. Leaders of the protest issued a call for a general strike, the resignation of the communist East German government, and free elections. Soviet forces struck quickly and without warning. Troops, supported by tanks and other armored vehicles, crashed through the crowd of protesters. Some protesters tried to fight back, but most fled before the onslaught. Red Cross officials in West Berlin (where many of the wounded protesters fled) estimated the death toll at between 15 and 20, and the number of wounded at more than 100. The Soviet military commanders declared martial law, and by the evening of June 17, the protests had been shattered and relative calm was restored.

In Washington, President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared that the brutal Soviet action contradicted Russian propaganda that the people of East Germany were happy with their communist government. He noted that the smashing of the protests was "a good lesson on the meaning of communism." America's propaganda outlet in Europe, the Voice of America radio station, claimed, "The workers of East Berlin have already written a glorious page in postwar history. They have once and for all times exposed the fraudulent nature of communist regimes." These criticisms had little effect on the Soviet control of East Germany, which remained a communist stronghold until the government fell in 1989.
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Jun 17, 1958:
Bridge collapses, killing workers



On this day in 1958, a bridge being built to connect eastern and northern Vancouver in western Canada collapses, killing 59 workers. The bridge, known as the Second Narrows Bridge, was finally completed in 1960 and, in 1996, it was renamed Ironworkers Memorial Bridge to commemorate the people who lost their lives during its construction. The disaster was the worst involving a bridge in Canada's history.

The bridge was being assembled by Dominion Bridge Company over the Burrard Inlet and was 175 feet above the water at its highest point. At 3:40 p.m., one of the structure's steel spans buckled suddenly, causing the entire structure to collapse. There were 79 workers, almost a third of them painters, on the bridge at the time. Most were earning $3.85 an hour, about $25 in today's money.

Twenty people survived the long fall, with fishermen pulling them from the water. Colin Glendinning, a worker who survived the collapse, recalled the fall, You know what I was thinking? 'Oh God, I wish I had a parachute' -- I really did. The fall tore off Glendinning's ear, broke his leg, and permanently damaged his lungs. He later returned to work on the bridge, only to break his other leg a year later.

A subsequent inquiry blamed the tragedy on a calculating error by one of the engineers who lost their lives in the collapse. However, some survivors believed that sub-standard construction materials were to blame.

A vigil honoring the victims is still held at the bridge every June 17.
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Jun 17, 1579:
Drake claims California for England



During his circumnavigation of the world, English seaman Francis Drake anchors in a harbor just north of present-day San Francisco, California, and claims the territory for Queen Elizabeth I. Calling the land "Nova Albion," Drake remained on the California coast for a month to make repairs to his ship, the Golden Hind, and prepare for his westward crossing of the Pacific Ocean.

On December 13, 1577, Drake set out from England with five ships on a mission to raid Spanish holdings on the Pacific coast of the New World. After crossing the Atlantic, Drake abandoned two of his ships in South America and then sailed into the Straits of Magellan with the remaining three. A series of devastating storms besieged his expedition in the treacherous straits, wrecking one ship and forcing another to return to England. Only the Golden Hind reached the Pacific Ocean, but Drake continued undaunted up the western coast of South America, raiding Spanish settlements and capturing a rich Spanish treasure ship.

Drake then continued up the western coast of North America, searching for a possible northeast passage back to the Atlantic. Reaching as far north as present-day Washington before turning back, Drake paused near San Francisco Bay in June 1579 to repair his ship and prepare for a journey across the Pacific. In July, the expedition set off across the Pacific, visiting several islands before rounding Africa's Cape of Good Hope and returning to the Atlantic Ocean. On September 26, 1580, the Golden Hind returned to Plymouth, England, bearing its rich captured treasure and valuable information about the world's great oceans. In 1581, Queen Elizabeth I knighted Drake during a visit to his ship.
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Jun 17, 1972:
Nixon's re-election employees are arrested for burglary



Five burglars are arrested in the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office and apartment complex in Washington, D.C. James McCord, Frank Sturgis, Bernard Barker, Virgilio Gonzalez, and Eugenio Martinez were apprehended in the early morning after a security guard at the Watergate noticed that several doors leading from the stairwell to various hallways had been taped to prevent them from locking. The intruders were wearing surgical gloves and carrying walkie-talkies, cameras, and almost $2,300 in sequential $100 bills. A subsequent search of their rooms at the Watergate turned up an additional $4,200, burglary tools, and electronic bugging equipment.

Although there was no immediate explanation as to the objective of the break-in, an extensive investigation ensued, eventually unveiling a comprehensive scheme of political sabotage and espionage designed to discredit Democratic candidates. McCord, who was one of the burglars, was also Richard Nixon's security chief for the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP). Nixon campaign funds were ultimately linked back to the Watergate break-in. In addition, equipment used during the burglary had been borrowed from the CIA. In the fall of 1972, Nixon was re-elected into office, but the probe continued.

FBI agents soon established that hundreds of thousands of dollars in Nixon campaign contributions had been set aside to pay for a massive undercover anti-Democratic operation. According to federal investigators, CREEP had forged letters and distributed them under Democratic candidate's letterhead, leaked false and manufactured information to the press, seized confidential Democratic campaign files, and followed Democratic candidates' families in order to gather damaging information.

During an interview with the Senate select Watergate committee on July 16, 1973, former White House aide Alexander Butterfield revealed that Nixon had been taping all of his conversations and telephone calls in the White House since 1971. After losing a battle in the Supreme Court to keep these tapes private, Nixon was heard approving the cover-up of the Watergate burglary less than a week after it happened. During a June 20, 1972, discussion of the Watergate scandal between the President and former White House chief of staff H.R. Haldeman, an 18 1/4-minute gap had been inexplicably erased, causing frustration and speculation from investigators.

On August 9, 1974, President Nixon resigned-the first U.S. president to do so. However, newly elected President Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon a month later, saving him from facing criminal charges.
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Duke of Buckingham
06-18-12, 05:35 AM
Jun 18, 1812:
War of 1812 begins

The day after the Senate followed the House of Representatives in voting to declare war against Great Britain, President James Madison signs the declaration into law--and the War of 1812 begins. The American war declaration, opposed by a sizable minority in Congress, had been called in response to the British economic blockade of France, the induction of American seaman into the British Royal Navy against their will, and the British support of hostile Indian tribes along the Great Lakes frontier. A faction of Congress known as the "War Hawks" had been advocating war with Britain for several years and had not hidden their hopes that a U.S. invasion of Canada might result in significant territorial land gains for the United States.

In the months after President Madison proclaimed the state of war to be in effect, American forces launched a three-point invasion of Canada, all of which were decisively unsuccessful. In 1814, with Napoleon Bonaparte's French Empire collapsing, the British were able to allocate more military resources to the American war, and Washington, D.C., fell to the British in August. In Washington, British troops burned the White House, the Capitol, and other buildings in retaliation for the earlier burning of government buildings in Canada by U.S. soldiers.

In September, the tide of the war turned when Thomas Macdonough's American naval force won a decisive victory at the Battle of Plattsburg Bay on Lake Champlain. The invading British army was forced to retreat back into Canada. The American victory on Lake Champlain led to the conclusion of U.S.-British peace negotiations in Belgium, and on December 24, 1814, the Treaty of Ghent was signed, formally ending the War of 1812. By the terms of the agreement, all conquered territory was to be returned, and a commission would be established to settle the boundary of the United States and Canada.

British forces assailing the Gulf Coast were not informed of the treaty in time, and on January 8, 1815, the U.S. forces under Andrew Jackson achieved the greatest American victory of the war at the Battle of New Orleans. The American public heard of Jackson's victory and the Treaty of Ghent at approximately the same time, fostering a greater sentiment of self-confidence and shared identity throughout the young republic.
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Jun 18, 1923:
Checker Cab produces first taxi at Kalamazoo factory

On June 18, 1923, the first Checker Cab rolls off the line at the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Morris Markin, founder of Checker Cab, was born in Smolensk, Russia, and began working when he was only 12 years old. At 19, he immigrated to the United States and moved to Chicago, where two uncles lived. After opening his own tailor's shop, Markin also began running a fleet of cabs and an auto body shop, the Markin Auto Body Corporation, in Joliet, Illinois. In 1921, after loaning $15,000 to help a friend's struggling car manufacturing business, the Commonwealth Motor Company, Markin absorbed Commonwealth into his own enterprise and completely halted the production of regular passenger cars in favor of taxis. The result was the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company, which took its name from a Chicago cab company that had hired Commonwealth to produce its vehicles.

By the end of 1922, Checker was producing more than 100 units per month in Joliet, and some 600 of the company's cabs were on the streets of New York City. Markin went looking for a bigger factory and settled on Kalamazoo, where the company took over buildings previously used by the Handley-Knight Company and Dort Body Plant car manufacturers. The first shipment of a Checker from Kalamazoo on June 18, 1923 stood out as a major landmark in the history of the company, which by then employed some 700 people.

During the Great Depression, Markin briefly sold Checker, but he bought it back in 1936 and began diversifying his business by making auto parts for other car companies. After converting its factories to produce war materiel during World War II, Checker entered the passenger car market in the late 1950s, with models dubbed the Superba and the Marathon. In its peak production year of 1962, Checker rolled out some 8,173 cars; the great majority of those were taxis. Over the course of the 1970s, however, as economic conditions led taxi companies to convert smaller, more fuel-efficient standard passenger cars into cabs, the 4,000-pound gas-guzzling Checker came to seem more and more outdated. Markin had died in 1970, and in April 1982 his son David announced that Checker would halt production of its famous cab that summer. Though the company still owns the Yellow and Checker cab fleets in Chicago and continued to make parts for other auto manufacturers, including General Motors, the last Checker Cab rolled off the line in Kalamazoo on July 12, 1982.
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Jun 18, 1979:
Carter and Brezhnev sign the SALT-II treaty

During a summit meeting in Vienna, President Jimmy Carter and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev sign the SALT-II agreement dealing with limitations and guidelines for nuclear weapons. The treaty, which never formally went into effect, proved to be one of the most controversial U.S.-Soviet agreements of the Cold War.

The SALT-II agreement was the result of many nagging issues left over from the successful SALT-I treaty of 1972. Though the 1972 treaty limited a wide variety of nuclear weapons, many issues remained unresolved. Talks between the United States and the Soviet Union began almost immediately after SALT-I was ratified by both nations in 1972. Those talks failed to achieve any new breakthroughs, however. By 1979, both the United States and Soviet Union were eager to revitalize the process. For the United States, fear that the Soviets were leaping ahead in the arms race was the primary motivator. For the Soviet Union, the increasingly close relationship between America and communist China was a cause for growing concern.

In June 1979, Carter and Brezhnev met in Vienna and signed the SALT-II agreement. The treaty basically established numerical equality between the two nations in terms of nuclear weapons delivery systems. It also limited the number of MIRV missiles (missiles with multiple, independent nuclear warheads). In truth, the treaty did little or nothing to stop, or even substantially slow down, the arms race. Nevertheless, it met with unrelenting criticism in the United States. The treaty was denounced as a "sellout" to the Soviets, one that would leave America virtually defenseless against a whole range of new weapons not mentioned in the agreement. Even supporters of arms control were less than enthusiastic about the treaty, since it did little to actually control arms.

Debate over SALT-II in the U.S. Congress continued for months. In December 1979, however, the Soviets launched an invasion of Afghanistan. The Soviet attack effectively killed any chance of SALT-II being passed, and Carter ensured this by withdrawing the treaty from the Senate in January 1980. SALT-II thus remained signed, but unratified. During the 1980s, both nations agreed to respect the agreement until such time as new arms negotiations could take place.
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Jun 18, 1972:
Mysterious crash at Heathrow

On this day in 1972, a Trident jetliner crashes after takeoff from Heathrow Airport in London, killing 118 people. The official cause of this accident remains unknown, but it may have happened simply because the plane was carrying too much weight.

As the summer of 1972 approached, there were serious problems facing the air-travel industry. Pilots were threatening to strike any day due to lack of security. Hijackings were becoming more common and pilots were feeling particularly vulnerable since they most often bore the brunt of the violence.

However, on June 18 at Heathrow Airport outside of London, all appeared to be running smoothly. The BEA morning flight to Brussels was full and weather conditions were perfect. The Trident 1 jet took off with no incident but, just after its wheels retracted, it began falling from the sky. The plane split on impact and an intense fireball from the plane's fuel supply erupted, scattering the fuselage and passengers. Only two of the 118 passengers and crew members on board were pulled from the wreckage alive; both died just hours later.

All efforts to explain the crash were fruitless. The investigators' best guess was that the jet simply was carrying too much weight or that the weight was improperly distributed and the plane could not handle the stress.
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Jun 18, 1983:
First American woman in space

From Cape Canaveral, Florida, the space shuttle Challenger is launched into space on its second mission. Aboard the shuttle was Dr. Sally Ride, who as a mission specialist became the first American woman to travel into space. During the six-day mission, Ride, an astrophysicist from Stanford University, operated the shuttle's robot arm, which she had helped design.

Her historic journey was preceded almost 20 years to the day by cosmonaut Valentina V. Tereshkova of the Soviet Union, who on June 16, 1963, became the first woman ever to travel into space. The United States had screened a group of female pilots in 1959 and 1960 for possible astronaut training but later decided to restrict astronaut qualification to men. In 1978, NASA changed its policy and announced that it had approved six women to become the first female astronauts in the U.S. space program. The new astronauts were chosen out of some 3,000 original applicants. Among the six were Sally Ride and Shannon Lucid, who in 1996 set a new space endurance record for an American and a world endurance record for a woman during her 188-day sojourn on the Russian space station Mir.
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Jun 18, 1815:
Napoleon defeated at Waterloo



At Waterloo in Belgium, Napoleon Bonaparte suffers defeat at the hands of the Duke of Wellington, bringing an end to the Napoleonic era of European history.

The Corsica-born Napoleon, one of the greatest military strategists in history, rapidly rose in the ranks of the French Revolutionary Army during the late 1790s. By 1799, France was at war with most of Europe, and Napoleon returned home from his Egyptian campaign to take over the reigns of the French government and save his nation from collapse. After becoming first consul in February 1800, he reorganized his armies and defeated Austria. In 1802, he established the Napoleonic Code, a new system of French law, and in 1804 was crowned emperor of France in Notre Dame Cathedral. By 1807, Napoleon controlled an empire that stretched from the River Elbe in the north, down through Italy in the south, and from the Pyrenees to the Dalmatian coast.

Beginning in 1812, Napoleon began to encounter the first significant defeats of his military career, suffering through a disastrous invasion of Russia, losing Spain to the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsula War, and enduring total defeat against an allied force by 1814. Exiled to the island of Elba in the Mediterranean, he escaped to France in early 1815 and set up a new regime. As allied troops mustered on the French frontiers, he raised a new Grand Army and marched into Belgium. He intended to defeat the allied armies one by one before they could launch a united attack.

On June 16, 1815, he defeated the Prussians under Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher at Ligny, and sent 33,000 men, or about one-third of his total force, in pursuit of the retreating Prussians. On June 18, Napoleon led his remaining 72,000 troops against the Duke of Wellington's 68,000-man allied army, which had taken up a strong position 12 miles south of Brussels near the village of Waterloo. In a fatal blunder, Napoleon waited until mid-day to give the command to attack in order to let the ground dry. The delay in fighting gave Blucher's troops, who had eluded their pursuers, time to march to Waterloo and join the battle by the late afternoon.

In repeated attacks, Napoleon failed to break the center of the allied center. Meanwhile, the Prussians gradually arrived and put pressure on Napoleon's eastern flank. At 6 p.m., the French under Marshal Michel Ney managed to capture a farmhouse in the allied center and began decimating Wellington's troops with artillery. Napoleon, however, was preoccupied with the 30,000 Prussians attacking his flank and did not release troops to aid Ney's attack until after 7 p.m. By that time, Wellington had reorganized his defenses, and the French attack was repulsed. Fifteen minutes later, the allied army launched a general advance, and the Prussians attacked in the east, throwing the French troops into panic and then a disorganized retreat. The Prussians pursued the remnants of the French army, and Napoleon left the field. French casualties in the Battle of Waterloo were 25,000 men killed and wounded and 9,000 captured, while the allies lost about 23,000.

Napoleon returned to Paris and on June 22 abdicated in favor of his son. He decided to leave France before counterrevolutionary forces could rally against him, and on July 15 he surrendered to British protection at the port of Rochefort. He hoped to travel to the United States, but the British instead sent him to Saint Helena, a remote island in the Atlantic off the coast of Africa. Napoleon protested but had no choice but to accept the exile. With a group of followers, he lived quietly on St. Helena for six years. In May 1821, he died, most likely of stomach cancer. He was only 51 years old. In 1840, his body was returned to Paris, and a magnificent funeral was held. Napoleon's body was conveyed through the Arc de Triomphe and entombed under the dome of the Invalides.
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Duke of Buckingham
06-19-12, 04:03 AM
Jun 19, 1953:
Rosenbergs executed



On this day in 1953, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted of conspiring to pass U.S. atomic secrets to the Soviets, are executed at Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, New York. Both refused to admit any wrongdoing and proclaimed their innocence right up to the time of their deaths, by the electric chair. The Rosenbergs were the first U.S. citizens to be convicted and executed for espionage during peacetime and their case remains controversial to this day.

Julius Rosenberg was an engineer for the U.S. Army Signal Corps who was born in New York on May 12, 1918. His wife, born Ethel Greenglass, also in New York, on September 28, 1915, worked as a secretary. The couple met as members of the Young Communist League, married in 1939 and had two sons. Julius Rosenberg was arrested on suspicion of espionage on June 17, 1950, and accused of heading a spy ring that passed top-secret information concerning the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. Ethel was arrested two months later. The Rosenbergs were implicated by David Greenglass, Ethel's younger brother and a former army sergeant and machinist at Los Alamos, the secret atomic bomb lab in New Mexico. Greenglass, who himself had confessed to providing nuclear secrets to the Soviets through an intermediary, testified against his sister and brother-in-law in court. He later served 10 years in prison.

The Rosenbergs vigorously protested their innocence, but after a brief trial that began on March 6, 1951, and attracted much media attention, the couple was convicted. On April 5, 1951, a judge sentenced them to death and the pair was taken to Sing Sing to await execution.

During the next two years, the couple became the subject of both national and international debate. Some people believed that the Rosenbergs were the victims of a surge of hysterical anti-communist feeling in the United States, and protested that the death sentence handed down was cruel and unusual punishment. Many Americans, however, believed that the Rosenbergs had been dealt with justly. They agreed with President Dwight D. Eisenhower when he issued a statement declining to invoke executive clemency for the pair. He stated, "I can only say that, by immeasurably increasing the chances of atomic war, the Rosenbergs may have condemned to death tens of millions of innocent people all over the world. The execution of two human beings is a grave matter. But even graver is the thought of the millions of dead whose deaths may be directly attributable to what these spies have done."
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Jun 19, 1864:
USS Kearsarge sinks CSS Alabama



The most successful and feared Confederate commerce raider of the war, the CSS Alabama, sinks after a spectacular battle off the coast of France with the USS Kearsarge.

Built in an English shipyard and sold to the Confederates in 1861, the Alabama was a state-of-the-art ship—220 feet long, with a speed of up to 13 knots. The cruiser was equipped with a machine shop and could carry enough coal to steam for 18 days, but its sails could greatly extend that time. Under its captain, Raphael Semmes, the Alabama prowled the world for three years, capturing U.S. commercial ships. It sailed around the globe, usually working out of the West Indies, but taking prizes and bungling Union shipping in the Caribbean, off Newfoundland, and around the coast of South America. In January 1863, Semmes sunk a Union warship, the Hatteras, after luring it out of Galveston, Texas. The Union navy spent an enormous amount of time and effort trying to track down the Alabama.

The ship sailed around South America, across the Pacific, and docked in India in 1864. By the summer, Semmes realized that after three years and 75,000 miles his vessel needed overhauling in a modern shipyard. He sailed around Africa to France, where the French denied him access to a dry dock. Semmes moved out of Cherbourg Harbor and found the USS Kearsarge waiting. In a spectacular battle, the Kearsarge bested and sank the Alabama. During its career, the Alabama captured 66 ships and was hunted by more than 20 Federal warships.
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Jun 19, 1892:
A bloody fingerprint elicits a mother's evil tale in Argentina



Francesca Rojas' two young children are killed in their home in the small town of Necochea, Argentina. According to Rojas, a man named Velasquez had threatened her when she rejected his sexual advances earlier in the day. Upon returning home later, Rojas claimed to have seen Velasquez escaping out her open door. Once inside, she found both her six-year-old boy and four-year-old girl stabbed to death.

Police arrested and questioned Velasquez, but he denied any involvement, even after some rather painful interrogation techniques were used to obtain a confession. Law enforcement officials even tried tying him to the corpses of the children overnight. When that didn't produce any results, Velasquez was tortured for another week. Still, he maintained his innocence throughout the ordeal.

Juan Vucetich, in charge of criminal identification at the regional headquarters, had been intrigued by the new theories of fingerprint identification and sent an investigator to see if the methods could help crack the case. Until then, the only other method of identification was the Bertillonage, named after its inventor, Alphonse Bertillon, who worked for the Paris police. This method involved the recording of body measurements in more than 11 different places. In an age when photography was very expensive, Bertillonage gave police their best chance of definitively identifying a person.

When the investigator examined Rojas's house, he found a bloody thumb print on the bedroom door. Rojas was then asked to provide an ink-print of her thumb at the police station. Even with only a rudimentary understanding of forensic identification, investigators were able to determine that the print on the door belonged to Rojas. Using this new piece of evidence against her, detectives were able to exact her confession.

Apparently, Rojas had killed her own children in an attempt to improve her chance of marrying her boyfriend, who was known to dislike children, and then pegged the crime on Velasquez. She was sentenced to life imprisonment.
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Jun 19, 1938:
Montana flood causes train wreck



On this day in 1938, a flood in Montana kills 46 people and seriously injures more than 60 when it washes out train tracks.

Custer Creek is a small winding river that runs through 25 miles of the Great Plains on its way to the Yellowstone River. Minor streams like Custer Creek are prone to flash floods because their small capacity can quickly and easily be exceeded during heavy rains.

On the evening of June 19, a track walker was sent out to check the rail lines near Custer Creek in Terry, Montana. He reported dry conditions and no problems with the tracks. However, within just a few hours, a sudden downpour overwhelmed Custer Creek. A bridge used by trains was washed out, and when the Olympian Special came through, it went crashing into the raging waters with no warning.

Two sleeper cars were buried in the muddy waters. A pitch-black night on the Great Plains made rescue efforts extremely difficult and 46 people lost their lives. The rear cars stayed above the water, but scores of passengers were seriously injured. They could not be evacuated until the following morning.
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Jun 19, 1867:
Emperor of Mexico executed



Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, installed as emperor of Mexico by French Emperor Napoleon III in 1864, is executed on the orders of Benito Juarez, the president of the Mexican Republic.

In 1861, the liberal Mexican Benito Juarez became president of a country in financial ruin, and he was forced to default on his debts to European governments. In response, France, Britain, and Spain sent naval forces to Veracruz to demand reimbursement. Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew, but France, ruled by Napoleon III, decided to use the opportunity to carve a dependent empire out of Mexican territory. Late in 1861, a well-armed French fleet stormed Veracruz, landing a large French force and driving President Juarez and his government into retreat.

Certain that French victory would come swiftly in Mexico, 6,000 French troops under General Charles Latrille de Lorencez set out to attack Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in east-central Mexico. From his new headquarters in the north, Juarez rounded up a rag-tag force of loyal men and sent them to Puebla. Led by Texas-born General Ignacio Zaragoza, the 2,000 Mexicans fortified the town and prepared for the French assault. On May 5, 1862, Lorencez drew his army, well-provisioned and supported by heavy artillery, before the city of Puebla and began his assault from the north. The battle lasted from daybreak to early evening, and when the French finally retreated they had lost nearly 500 soldiers to the fewer than 100 Mexicans killed.

Although not a major strategic victory in the overall war against the French, Zaragoza's victory at Puebla represented a great moral victory for the Mexican government and symbolized the country's ability to defend its sovereignty against threat by a powerful foreign nation. Today, Mexicans celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla as Cinco de Mayo, a national holiday in Mexico. Six years later, under pressure from the newly reunited United States, France withdrew. Abandoned in Mexico, Emperor Maximilian was captured by Juarez' forces and on June 19, 1867, executed.
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Duke of Buckingham
06-20-12, 09:41 AM
Jun 20, 1975:
Jaws released



On this day in 1975, Jaws, a film directed by Steven Spielberg that made countless viewers afraid to go into the water, opens in theaters. The story of a great white shark that terrorizes a New England resort town became an instant blockbuster and the highest-grossing film in movie history until it was bested by 1977's Star Wars. Jaws was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Picture category and took home three Oscars, for Best Film Editing, Best Original Score and Best Sound. The film, a breakthrough for director Spielberg, then 27 years old, spawned three sequels.

The film starred Roy Scheider as principled police chief Martin Brody, Richard Dreyfuss as a marine biologist named Matt Hooper and Robert Shaw as a grizzled fisherman called Quint. It was set in the fictional beach town of Amity, and based on a best-selling novel, released in 1973, by Peter Benchley. Subsequent water-themed Benchley bestsellers also made it to the big screen, including The Deep (1977).

With a budget of $12 million, Jaws was produced by the team of Richard Zanuck and David Brown, whose later credits include The Verdict (1982), Cocoon (1985) and Driving Miss Daisy (1989). Filming, which took place on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, was plagued by delays and technical difficulties, including malfunctioning mechanical sharks.

Jaws put now-famed director Steven Spielberg on the Hollywood map. Spielberg, largely self-taught in filmmaking, made his feature-length directorial debut with The Sugarland Express in 1974. The film was critically well-received but a box-office flop. Following the success of Jaws, Spielberg went on to become one of the most influential, iconic people in the film world, with such epics as Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), ET: the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Jurassic Park (1993), Schindler's List (1993) and Saving Private Ryan (1998). E.T., Jaws and Jurassic Park rank among the 10 highest-grossing movies of all time. In 1994, Spielberg formed DreamWorks SKG, with Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen. The company has produced such hits as American Beauty (1999), Gladiator (2001) and Shrek (2001).
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Jun 20, 1782:
Congress adopts the Great Seal of the United States



On this day in 1782, Congress adopts the Great Seal of the United States after six years of discussion.

The front of the seal depicts a bald eagle clutching an olive branch in its right talon and arrows in its left. On its breast appears a shield marked with 13 vertical red and white stripes topped by a bar of blue. The eagle's beak clutches a banner inscribed, E pluribus unum, a Latin phrase meaning "Out of Many One." Above the eagle's head, golden rays burst forth, encircling 13 stars.

Charles Thomas outlined the symbolic connotations of the seal's elements when he presented his design to Congress. The bottom of the shield (or pale) represents the 13 states united in support of the blue bar at the top of the shield (or chief), "which unites the whole and represents Congress." The motto E Pluribus Unum serves as a textual representation of the same relationship. The colors used in the shield are the same as those in the flag: alternating red and white for the important balance between innocence and valor, topped by the blue of "vigilance, perseverance and justice." The eagle's talons hold symbols of Congress power to make peace (the olive branch) and war (arrows). The constellation of stars indicates that "a new State [is] taking its place and rank among other sovereign powers."

The reverse side of the seal bears the familiar Masonic motif of a pyramid, which Thomas proposed as a symbol of "Strength and Duration." The pyramid, like the new nation, is unfinished and frequently depicted as having 13 steps for the original states. The disembodied eye floating above the structure is that of providence, which Thomas believed had acted "in favour of the American cause." Beneath the pyramid, the number 1776 appears in Roman numerals as a reminder of the year of independence. The phrase Annuit Coeptis or "Providence has Favored Our Undertakings" appears above the providential eye; Novus Ordo Seclorum or "A New Order of the Ages" appears beneath the pyramid.
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Jun 20, 1963:
United States and Soviet Union will establish a "hot line"



To lessen the threat of an accidental nuclear war, the United States and the Soviet Union agree to establish a "hot line" communication system between the two nations. The agreement was a small step in reducing tensions between the United States and the USSR following the October 1962 Missile Crisis in Cuba, which had brought the two nations to the brink of nuclear war.

The need for nearly instantaneous and full-time communication between the U.S. and Soviet governments became apparent during the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. The United States had discovered that the Soviets were building missile sites in Cuba capable of firing missiles with nuclear warheads. Eventually, the administration of President John F. Kennedy instituted a naval "quarantine" around Cuba to block the delivery of such missiles. Possible nuclear conflict was avoided only when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev agreed that his country would not install nuclear weapons in Cuba. In exchange, the United States vowed not to threaten the sovereignty of Cuba. Prior to the settlement, the world sat through several very tense days of waiting to see whether World War III would begin. In an attempt to reduce the tensions brought about by the October 1962 crisis, and hopefully avert any future misunderstandings that might trigger a nuclear conflict, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed in June 1963 to establish a "hot line." It would be a 24-hour-a-day communications link between Washington, D.C., and Moscow. President Kennedy declared, "This age of fast-moving events requires quick, dependable communication in time of emergency." The agreement was a "first step to help reduce the risk of war occurring by accident or miscalculation."

The system was put into place a few months after the agreement was signed. Beyond serving as a dramatic prop in movies such as Fail Safe (or a comedic prop in the film Dr. Strangelove), the communication line has--thankfully--never had to be used to avert a nuclear war.
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Duke of Buckingham
06-21-12, 05:15 AM
Jun 21, 1788:
U.S. Constitution ratified

New Hampshire becomes the ninth and last necessary state to ratify the Constitution of the United States, thereby making the document the law of the land.

By 1786, defects in the post-Revolutionary War Articles of Confederation were apparent, such as the lack of central authority over foreign and domestic commerce. Congress endorsed a plan to draft a new constitution, and on May 25, 1787, the Constitutional Convention convened at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. On September 17, 1787, after three months of debate moderated by convention president George Washington, the new U.S. constitution, which created a strong federal government with an intricate system of checks and balances, was signed by 38 of the 41 delegates present at the conclusion of the convention. As dictated by Article VII, the document would not become binding until it was ratified by nine of the 13 states.

Beginning on December 7, five states--Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut--ratified it in quick succession. However, other states, especially Massachusetts, opposed the document, as it failed to reserve undelegated powers to the states and lacked constitutional protection of basic political rights, such as freedom of speech, religion, and the press. In February 1788, a compromise was reached under which Massachusetts and other states would agree to ratify the document with the assurance that amendments would be immediately proposed. The Constitution was thus narrowly ratified in Massachusetts, followed by Maryland and South Carolina. On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document, and it was subsequently agreed that government under the U.S. Constitution would begin on March 4, 1789. In June, Virginia ratified the Constitution, followed by New York in July.

On September 25, 1789, the first Congress of the United States adopted 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution--the Bill of Rights--and sent them to the states for ratification. Ten of these amendments were ratified in 1791. In November 1789, North Carolina became the 12th state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Rhode Island, which opposed federal control of currency and was critical of compromise on the issue of slavery, resisted ratifying the Constitution until the U.S. government threatened to sever commercial relations with the state. On May 29, 1790, Rhode Island voted by two votes to ratify the document, and the last of the original 13 colonies joined the United States. Today the U.S. Constitution is the oldest written constitution in operation in the world
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Jun 21, 1779:
Spain declares war against Great Britain

On this day in 1779, Spain declares war on Great Britain, creating a de facto alliance with the Americans.

Spain's King Charles III would not consent to a treaty of alliance with the United States. For one imperial power to encourage another imperial power's colonies in revolt was a treacherous game, and he was unwilling to play. However, French Foreign Minister Charles Gravier, comte de Vergennes, managed to negotiate a treaty with Spain to join their war against the British. As the ally of the United States' ally, Spain managed to endorse the revolt at a critical diplomatic distance.

The American Revolution had already spawned a world war between the two international powers of Britain and France. Spain's entry into the imbroglio ensured that the British would have to spread their resources even thinner. King Charles wanted to reclaim Gibraltar for Spain and secure Spanish borders in North America and the Spanish immediately laid siege to Gibraltar at the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea. The British managed to drive the Spanish from Gibraltar on February 7, 1783, having constructed an 82-foot-long tunnel into the north face of the rock of Gibraltar, known as the "Notch," in order to supply it with cannon. However, King Charles succeeded in his North American goals. The Spanish took West Florida by force and attained East Florida by cession when the War for Independence ended; they were also able to secure the Gulf of Mexico.
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Jun 21, 1963:
French withdraw navy from NATO

The French government shocks its allies by announcing that it is withdrawing its navy from the North Atlantic fleet of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The French action was viewed in the West as evidence that France would be pursuing an independent policy regarding its nuclear arsenal.

In the months prior to the French action, the United States had been pushing its NATO allies to accept a plan whereby the NATO North Atlantic fleet would be armed with Polaris nuclear missiles. The ships would have crews made up of personnel from various NATO nations. This plan, however, conflicted with a French plan to base much of their nation's nuclear arsenal in their navy. Obviously, France wished to maintain absolute control over its ships to carry out this program. Thus, French President Charles de Gaulle's government issued a brief statement indicating that the French ships in the NATO North Atlantic fleet were being withdrawn.

Many NATO members expressed surprise over the French action. In the United States, surprise was also mixed with dismay and no small degree of anger. The French announcement came just as President John F. Kennedy was preparing to go to Europe for a series of talks with America's allies. Privately, some Kennedy advisors were quite vocal in condemning de Gaulle's highly nationalistic independence in moving away from his nation's NATO commitments, thereby threatening the security of France's European allies. And, although the French withdrawal from the NATO North Atlantic fleet did not drastically affect the fleet's military effectiveness, the United States worried that France's action might set a disturbing precedent. NATO was still considered by U.S. officials as the first line of defense against communist aggression in Europe, and France's "defection" was distressing. Kennedy, during his European sojourn, attempted to persuade the French to rethink their position, but de Gaulle stood firm in his decision. America's fears were unrealized, however, as no other nations followed France's example. French naval forces never rejoined the NATO fleet.
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Jun 21, 1990:
Earthquake devastates Iran

An earthquake near the Caspian Sea in Iran kills more than 50,000 and injures another 135,000 people on this day in 1990. The 7.7-magnitude tremor wrecked havoc on the simply constructed houses in the area.

Thirty minutes past midnight, with most people sleeping in their homes, a violent quake, centered along the shores of the Caspian Sea in northwestern Iran shattered the nighttime tranquility. A 20,000-square-mile area in the provinces of Zanjan and Gilan was absolutely devastated. This region encompasses both farms and sea resorts--all were demolished. In towns along one 80-mile stretch, every single building was reduced to rubble and every single resident was killed.

Additionally, a burst dam in Rasht, caused by a 6.5-magnitude aftershock the following morning, wiped out a large stretch of farmland. Landslides made many roads impassable and many of the people who initially survived under the rubble could not be rescued before their air supply ran out. An estimated 400,000 people were left homeless by the earthquake.

Worldwide relief efforts were undertaken. The Iranian government grudgingly accepted assistance from the United States, though it refused help from Israel and South Africa. Because of Iran's tenuous relations with their home nations, many relief workers from western nations were sent home after only a brief time and before critical assistance could be provided.
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Jun 21, 1964:
The KKK kills three civil rights activists

Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney are killed by a Ku Klux Klan lynch mob near Meridian, Mississippi. The three young civil rights workers were working to register black voters in Mississippi, thus inspiring the ire of the local Klan. The deaths of Schwerner and Goodman, white Northerners and members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), caused a national outrage.

When the desegregation movement encountered resistance in the early 1960s, CORE set up an interracial team to ride buses into the Deep South to help protest. These so-called Freedom Riders were viciously attacked in May 1961 when the first two buses arrived in Alabama. One bus was firebombed; the other boarded by KKK members who beat the activists inside. The Alabama police provided no protection.

Still, the Freedom Riders were not dissuaded and they continued to come into Alabama and Mississippi. Michael Schwerner was a particularly dedicated activist who lived in Mississippi while he assisted blacks to vote. Sam Bowers, the local Klan's Imperial Wizard, decided that Schwerner was a bad influence, and had to be killed.

When Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney, a young black man, were coming back from a trip to Philadelphia, Mississippi, deputy sheriff Cecil Price, who was also a Klan member, pulled them over for speeding. He then held them in custody while other KKK members prepared for their murder. Eventually released, the three activists were later chased down in their car and cornered in a secluded spot in the woods where they were shot and then buried in graves that had been prepared in advance.

When news of their disappearance got out, the FBI converged on Mississippi to investigate. With the help of an informant, agents learned about the Klan's involvement and found the bodies. Since Mississippi refused to prosecute the assailants in state court, the federal government charged 18 men with conspiracy to violate the civil rights of Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney.

Bowers, Price, and five other men were convicted; eight were acquitted; and the all-white jury deadlocked on the other three defendants. On the forty-first anniversary of the three murders, June 21, 2005, Edgar Ray Killen was found guilty of three counts of manslaughter. The 80-year-old Killen, known as an outspoken white supremacist and part-time Baptist minister, was sentenced to 60 years in prison.
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Jun 21, 1916:
Pershing attacked by Mexican troops

The controversial U.S. military expedition against Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa brings the United States and Mexico closer to war when Mexican government troops attack U.S. Brigadier General John J. Pershing's force at Carrizal, Mexico. The Americans suffered 22 casualties, and more than 30 Mexicans were killed. Against the protests of Venustiano Carranza's government, Pershing had been penetrating deep into Mexico in pursuit of Pancho Villa. After routing the small Mexican force at Carrizal, the U.S. expedition continued on its southern course.

In 1914, following the resignation of Mexican leader Victoriano Huerta, Pancho Villa and his former revolutionary ally Venustiano Carranza battled each other in a struggle for succession. By the end of 1915, Villa had been driven north into the mountains, and the U.S. government recognized General Carranza as the president of Mexico.

In January 1916, to protest President Woodrow Wilson's support for Carranza, Villa executed 16 U.S. citizens at Santa Isabel in northern Mexico. Then, on March 9, he ordered a raid on the border town of Columbus, New Mexico, in which 17 Americans were killed and the center of town was burned. Cavalry from the nearby Camp Furlong U.S. Army outpost pursued the Mexicans, killing several dozen rebels on U.S. soil and in Mexico before turning back. On March 15, under orders from President Wilson, U.S. Brigadier General John J. Pershing launched a punitive expedition into Mexico to capture or kill Villa and disperse his rebels. The expedition eventually involved some 10,000 U.S. troops and personnel. It was the first U.S. military operation to employ mechanized vehicles, including automobiles and airplanes.

For 11 months, Pershing failed to capture the elusive revolutionary, who was aided by his intimate knowledge of the terrain of northern Mexico and his popular support from the people there. Meanwhile, resentment over the U.S. intrusion into Mexican territory led to a diplomatic crisis with the government in Mexico City. On June 21, the crisis escalated into violence when Mexican government troops attacked a detachment of the 10th Cavalry at Carrizal. If not for the critical situation in Europe, war might have been declared. In January 1917, having failed in their mission to capture Villa, and under continued pressure from the Mexican government, the Americans were ordered home.

Pancho Villa continued his guerrilla activities in northern Mexico until Adolfo de la Huerta took over the government and drafted a reformist constitution. Villa entered into an amicable agreement with Huerta and agreed to retire from politics. In 1920, the government pardoned Villa, but three years later he was assassinated at his ranch in Parral.
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invisy
06-21-12, 04:17 PM
Today in 1947, The Mille Miglia returned after a 7 year hiatus due to World War II and rebuilding efforts. What's your favorite endurance race of all time?

(Photo Credit: LAT)
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Duke of Buckingham
06-22-12, 03:04 AM
I will be out till the end of this month and will be posting again on the first of July. Keep the thread alive. :D


Jun 22, 1944:
FDR signs G.I. Bill

On this day in 1944, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the G.I. Bill, an unprecedented act of legislation designed to compensate returning members of the armed services--known as G.I.s--for their efforts in World War II.

As the last of its sweeping New Deal reforms, Roosevelt's administration created the G.I. Bill--officially the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944--hoping to avoid a relapse into the Great Depression after the war ended. FDR particularly wanted to prevent a repeat of the Bonus March of 1932, when 20,000 unemployed veterans and their families flocked in protest to Washington. The American Legion, a veteran's organization, successfully fought for many of the provisions included in the bill, which gave returning servicemen access to unemployment compensation, low-interest home and business loans, and--most importantly--funding for education.

By giving veterans money for tuition, living expenses, books, supplies and equipment, the G.I. Bill effectively transformed higher education in America. Before the war, college had been an option for only 10-15 percent of young Americans, and university campuses had become known as a haven for the most privileged classes. By 1947, in contrast, vets made up half of the nation's college enrollment; three years later, nearly 500,000 Americans graduated from college, compared with 160,000 in 1939.

As educational institutions opened their doors to this diverse new group of students, overcrowded classrooms and residences prompted widespread improvement and expansion of university facilities and teaching staffs. An array of new vocational courses were developed across the country, including advanced training in education, agriculture, commerce, mining and fishing--skills that had previously been taught only informally.

The G.I. Bill became one of the major forces that drove an economic expansion in America that lasted 30 years after World War II. Only 20 percent of the money set aside for unemployment compensation under the bill was given out, as most veterans found jobs or pursued higher education. Low interest home loans enabled millions of American families to move out of urban centers and buy or build homes outside the city, changing the face of the suburbs. Over 50 years, the impact of the G.I. Bill was enormous, with 20 million veterans and dependents using the education benefits and 14 million home loans guaranteed, for a total federal investment of $67 billion. Among the millions of Americans who have taken advantage of the bill are former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford, former Vice President Al Gore and entertainers Johnny Cash, Ed McMahon, Paul Newman and Clint Eastwood.
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Jun 22, 1989:
Cease-fire established in Angolan civil war

After nearly 15 years of civil war, opposing factions in Angola agree to a cease-fire to end a conflict that had claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. The cease-fire also helped to defuse U.S.-Soviet tensions concerning Angola.

Angola was a former Portuguese colony that had attained independence in 1975. Even before that date, however, various factions had been jockeying for power. The two most important were the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), which was favored by the United States, and the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), which was supported by the Soviets. Once independence became a reality in November 1975, the two groups began a brutal contest for control, with the Soviet-supported MPLA eventually seizing control of the nation's capital. UNITA found support from Zaire and South Africa in the form of funds, weapons, and, in the case of South Africa, troops. The United States provided covert financial and arms support to both Zaire and South Africa to assist those nations' efforts in Angola. The Soviets responded with increasingly heavy support to the MPLA, and Cuba began to airlift troops in to help fight against UNITA. The African nation quickly became a Cold War hotspot. President Ronald Reagan began direct U.S. support of UNITA during his term in office in the 1980s. Angola suffered through a debilitating civil war, with thousands of people killed. Hundreds of thousands more became refugees from the increasingly savage conflict.

In 1988, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev set into motion a series of events that would lead to a cease-fire the following year. Gorbachev was desperately seeking to better Soviet relations with the United States and he was facing a Soviet economy that could no longer sustain the expenses of supporting far-flung "wars of national liberation" like in Angola. He therefore announced that the Soviet Union was cutting its aid to both the MPLA and Cuba. Cuba, which depended on the Soviet subsidy to maintain its troops in Angola, made the decision to withdraw, and its forces began to depart in early 1989. South Africa thereupon suspended its aid to UNITA. The United States continued its aid to UNITA, but at a much smaller level. UNITA and the MPLA, exhausted from nearly 15 years of conflict, agreed to talks in 1989. These resulted in a cease-fire in June of that year. It was a short-lived respite. In 1992, national elections resulted in an overwhelming victory for the MPLA, and UNITA went back on the warpath.

In 1994, a peace accord was signed between the MPLA government and UNITA and in 1997, a government with representatives from both sides was established. Still, in 1998 fighting again broke out and democracy was suspended. In 2002, the leader of UNITA, Jonas Savimbi, was murdered; afterwards a cease-fire was reached, in which UNITA agreed to give up its arms and participate in the government. Observors are still waiting, however, for democracy to be reinstated.
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Jun 22, 1945:
Battle of Okinawa ends

During World War II, the U.S. 10th Army overcomes the last major pockets of Japanese resistance on Okinawa Island, ending one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. The same day, Japanese Lieutenant General Mitsuru Ushijima, the commander of Okinawa's defense, committed suicide with a number of Japanese officers and troops rather than surrender.

On April 1, 1945, the 10th Army, under Lieutenant General Simon Bolivar Buckner, launched the invasion of Okinawa, a strategic Pacific island located midway between Japan and Formosa. Possession of Okinawa would give the United States a base large enough for an invasion of the Japanese home islands. There were more than 100,000 Japanese defenders on the island, but most were deeply entrenched in the island's densely forested interior. By the evening of April 1, 60,000 U.S. troops had come safely ashore. However, on April 4, Japanese land resistance stiffened, and at sea kamikaze pilots escalated their deadly suicide attacks on U.S. vessels.

During the next month, the battle raged on land and sea, with the Japanese troops and fliers making the Americans pay dearly for every strategic area of land and water won. On June 18, with U.S. victory imminent, General Buckner, the hero of Iwo Jima, was killed by Japanese artillery. Three days later, his 10th Army reached the southern coast of the island, and on June 22 Japanese resistance effectively came to an end.

The Japanese lost 120,000 troops in the defense of Okinawa, while the Americans suffered 12,500 dead and 35,000 wounded. Of the 36 Allied ships lost, most were destroyed by the 2,000 or so Japanese pilots who gave up their lives in kamikaze missions. With the capture of Okinawa, the Allies prepared for the invasion of Japan, a military operation predicted to be far bloodier than the 1944 Allied invasion of Western Europe. The plan called for invading the southern island of Kyushu in November 1945, and the main Japanese island of Honshu in March 1946. In July, however, the United States successfully tested an atomic bomb and after dropping two of these devastating weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, Japan surrendered.
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Jun 22, 1972:
New troops sent to An Loc

South Vietnam's 21st Division, decimated by repeated attempts to relieve An Loc, is replaced by the 25th Division. At the same time, U.S. helicopters flew 18th Division troops to positions south of An Loc to replace badly battered 9th Division troops that had also been trying to get to the city.

The 21st Division and attached units had been trying to reach the besieged city since April 9, when the group had been moved from its normal station in the Mekong Delta and ordered to attack up Highway 13 from Lai Khe to open the route to An Loc. The South Vietnamese forces had been locked in a desperate battle with a North Vietnamese division blocking the highway since the very beginning of the siege. As the 21st Division tried to open the road, the defenders inside An Loc fought off repeated attacks by two North Vietnamese divisions that had surrounded the city early in April. This was the southernmost thrust of the North Vietnamese invasion that had begun on March 30; the other main objectives were Quang Tri in the north and Kontum in the Central Highlands.

The arrival of the fresh South Vietnamese soldiers would eventually result in the lifting of the siege at An Loc. The 18th Division troops successfully attacked the North Vietnamese forces surrounding the city and most of the communist troops within An Loc had been eliminated by the end of the month. The 25th Division was less successful and the North Vietnamese forces continued to block Route 13 south of the city.
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Jun 22, 1950:
Bernstein, Copland, Seeger and others are named as Communists

The Red Scare of the 1940s and 1950s famously ended the careers of numerous film-industry professionals and forced others to avoid blacklisting by repudiating their political beliefs and "naming names" of suspected Communist sympathizers to the House Committee on Un-Activities (HUAC). But Hollywood actors, directors and screenwriters were not the only victims of the Cold War anti-Communist purges in the entertainment industry. Prominent figures in the music industry were also targeted, including Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Lena Horne, Pete Seeger and Artie Shaw, all of whom were named publicly as suspected Communist sympathizers on this day in 1950, in the infamous publication Red Channels: The Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television.

Red Channels was a tract issued by the right-wing journal Counterattack, the self-described "Newsletter of Facts to Combat Communism." By 1950, Joseph McCarthy and the HUAC had already been at work for several years, and figures like singer Paul Robeson and the so-called Hollywood Ten had already been blacklisted, but Red Channels sought to go further, exposing what it called a widespread Communist effort to achieve "domination of American broadcasting and telecasting, preparatory to the day when…[the] Party will assume control of this nation as the result of a final upheaval and civil war." Some even believe that the men responsible for Red Channels—including several former members of the FBI—were given illegal access to the confidential files of HUAC in preparing their report, which exposed 151 names in the entertainment industry to public scrutiny and the threat of blacklisting

Joining famous names like Orson Welles, Lillian Hellman, Arthur Miller and Dorothy Parker on the Red Channels list were the aforementioned Bernstein, Copland, Horne, Seeger and Shaw and numerous other musical figures, including the legendary harmonica player Larry Adler, the folksinger Burl Ives, former Library of Congress folklorist Alan Lomax and The New York Times music critic Olin Downes. The evidence of Communist leanings offered in Red Channels included Lena Horne’s appearance on the letterhead of a South African famine relief program, Aaron Copland’s appearance on a panel at a 1949 Scientific and Cultural Conference for World Peace and Leonard Bernstein’s affiliation with the Committee to Re-Elect Benjamin J. Davis, a black, socialist New York City councilman.

In the end, Red Channels caused some of those named to be blacklisted—Pete Seeger, most famously—to fight publicly to prove their "loyalty" to the United States and still others to repudiate their political pasts and provide the HUAC with names of other suspected prominent leftists.
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Duke of Buckingham
06-30-12, 02:40 PM
Jun 30, 1936:
Gone with the Wind published

Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, one of the best-selling novels of all time and the basis for a blockbuster 1939 movie, is published on this day in 1936.

In 1926, Mitchell was forced to quit her job as a reporter at the Atlanta Journal to recover from a series of physical injuries. With too much time on her hands, Mitchell soon grew restless. Working on a Remington typewriter, a gift from her second husband, John R. Marsh, in their cramped one-bedroom apartment, Mitchell began telling the story of an Atlanta belle named Pansy O'Hara.

In tracing Pansy's tumultuous life from the antebellum South through the Civil War and into the Reconstruction era, Mitchell drew on the tales she had heard from her parents and other relatives, as well as from Confederate war veterans she had met as a young girl. While she was extremely secretive about her work, Mitchell eventually gave the manuscript to Harold Latham, an editor from New York's MacMillan Publishing. Latham encouraged Mitchell to complete the novel, with one important change: the heroine's name. Mitchell agreed to change it to Scarlett, now one of the most memorable names in the history of literature.

Published in 1936, Gone with the Wind caused a sensation in Atlanta and went on to sell millions of copies in the United States and throughout the world. While the book drew some criticism for its romanticized view of the Old South and its slaveholding elite, its epic tale of war, passion and loss captivated readers far and wide. By the time Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937, a movie project was already in the works. The film was produced by Hollywood giant David O. Selznick, who paid Mitchell a record-high $50,000 for the film rights to her book.

After testing hundreds of unknowns and big-name stars to play Scarlett, Selznick hired British actress Vivien Leigh days after filming began. Clark Gable was also on board as Rhett Butler, Scarlett's dashing love interest. Plagued with problems on set, Gone with the Wind nonetheless became one of the highest-grossing and most acclaimed movies of all time, breaking box office records and winning nine Academy Awards out of 13 nominations.

Though she didn't take part in the film adaptation of her book, Mitchell did attend its star-studded premiere in December 1939 in Atlanta. Tragically, she died just 10 years later, after she was struck by a speeding car while crossing Atlanta's Peachtree Street. Scarlett, a relatively unmemorable sequel to Gone with the Wind written by Alexandra Ripley, was published in 1992.
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Jun 30, 1950:
Truman orders U.S. forces to Korea

Just three days after the United Nations Security Council voted to provide military assistance to South Korea, President Harry S. Truman orders U.S. armed forces to assist in defending that nation from invading North Korean armies. Truman's dramatic step marked the official entry of the United States into the Korean War.

On June 25, 1950, military forces from communist North Korea invaded South Korea. South Korean forces and the small number of U.S. troops stationed in the nation reeled under the surprise attack. On June 27, the United States asked the Security Council in the United Nations to pass a resolution calling on member states of the United Nations to assist South Korea. With the Soviets boycotting the meeting for other reasons, the resolution passed. Three days later, President Truman ordered U.S. ground forces into South Korea and the troops entered South Korea that same day. At the same time, Truman ordered the U.S. Air Force to bomb military targets in North Korea and directed the U.S. Navy to blockade the North Korean coast.

Truman's action signaled the beginning of official and large-scale U.S. participation in the Korean War. Over the next three years, the United States provided at least half of the U.N. ground forces in Korea and the vast majority of the air and sea forces used in the conflict against North Korea and, later, against communist China, which entered the war on the side of North Korea in late 1950. Nearly 55,000 Americans were killed in the war and over 100,000 were wounded. Cost estimates for the war ranged as high as $20 billion. In July 1953, an armistice was signed that ended the fighting and left Korea a divided nation.
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Jun 30, 1981:
A first-time offender ends up on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List

Glen Godwin, a young business owner, is convicted of murder in Riverside County, California, and sentenced to 26-years-to-life in prison. According to his roommate's testimony, Godwin stomped on, choked, and then stabbed Kim LeValley, an acquaintance and local drug dealer, 28 times before using homemade explosives to blow up his body in the desert near Palm Springs. Godwin, who had no previous record, eventually found his way onto the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List.

In 1985, while serving his sentence at Soledad Prison, Godwin married Shelley Rose. He was then transferred to Folsom Prison, a maximum-security facility, where he escaped through a 300-yard storm drain and floated across the American River on a raft to freedom in June 1987. Apparently gaining assistance from someone who cut the iron bars on the storm drain from the outside, Godwin was the third person to escape from Folsom in 25 years. Lorenz Karlic, who had once shared a cell with Godwin, was arrested in Hesperia, California, for aiding Godwin in his escape.

After two years without any leads on either Glen or Shelley, who was last seen renting a car at the San Jose Airport, authorities were notified of a man in a Mexican prison under the name of Stewart Carrera, whose fingerprints matched those of Godwin's. Reportedly, Mexican authorities had arrested Glen on drugs and weapons charges six months after his escape.

While California officials were working to have Godwin extradited back to the United States, he murdered a fellow inmate in Puerto Vallarta Prison—an attempt to avoid returning to the high security prisons in California. Shortly thereafter, he escaped from the Mexican jail.

In December 1996, Godwin appeared on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List. Shelley Godwin, who, unbeknownst to California law enforcement officials, had divorced her husband and remarried in Texas, was apprehended in Dallas when a story on the Godwin case appeared on television's America's Most Wanted, but Glen Godwin remains at large.
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Jun 30, 1971:
Soviet cosmonauts perish in reentry disaster

The three Soviet cosmonauts who served as the first crew of the world's first space station die when their spacecraft depressurizes during reentry.

On June 6, the cosmonauts Georgi Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov, and Viktor Patsayev were launched into space aboard Soyuz 11 on a mission to dock and enter Salyut 1, the Soviet space station that had been placed in orbit in April. The spacecraft successfully docked with the station, and the cosmonauts spent 23 days orbiting the earth. On June 30, they left Salyut 1 and began reentry procedures. When they fired the explosive bolts to separate the Soyuz 11 reentry capsule from another stage of the spacecraft, a critical valve was jerked open.

One hundred miles above the earth, the capsule was suddenly exposed to the nearly pressureless environment of space. As the capsule rapidly depressurized, Patsayev tried to close the valve by hand but failed. Minutes later, the cosmonauts were dead. As a result of the tragedy, the Soviet Union did not send any future crews to Salyut 1, and it was more than two years before they attempted another manned mission.
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Duke of Buckingham
07-01-12, 07:01 AM
Jul 1, 1997:
Hong Kong returned to China

At midnight on July 1, 1997, Hong Kong reverts back to Chinese rule in a ceremony attended by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Prince Charles of Wales, Chinese President Jiang Zemin, and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. A few thousand Hong Kongers protested the turnover, which was otherwise celebratory and peaceful.

In 1839, Britain invaded China to crush opposition to its interference in the country's economic, social, and political affairs. One of Britain's first acts of the war was to occupy Hong Kong, a sparsely inhabited island off the coast of southeast China. In 1841, China ceded the island to the British with the signing of the Convention of Chuenpi, and in 1842 the Treaty of Nanking was signed, formally ending the First Opium War.

Britain's new colony flourished as an East-West trading center and as the commercial gateway and distribution center for southern China. In 1898, Britain was granted an additional 99 years of rule over Hong Kong under the Second Convention of Peking. In September 1984, after years of negotiations, the British and the Chinese signed a formal agreement approving the 1997 turnover of the island in exchange for a Chinese pledge to preserve Hong Kong's capitalist system. On July 1, 1997, Hong Kong was peaceably handed over to China in a ceremony attended by numerous Chinese, British, and international dignitaries. The chief executive under the new Hong Kong government, Tung Chee Hwa, formulated a policy based on the concept of "one country, two systems," thus preserving Hong Kong's role as a principal capitalist center in Asia.
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Jul 1, 1867:
Canadian Independence Day

The autonomous Dominion of Canada, a confederation of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the future provinces of Ontario and Quebec, is officially recognized by Great Britain with the passage of the British North America Act.

During the 19th century, colonial dependence gave way to increasing autonomy for a growing Canada. In 1841, Upper and Lower Canada--now known as Ontario and Quebec--were made a single province by the Act of Union. In the 1860s, a movement for a greater Canadian federation grew out of the need for a common defense, the desire for a national railroad system, and the necessity of finding a solution to the problem of French and British conflict. When the Maritime provinces, which sought union among themselves, called a conference in 1864, delegates from the other provinces of Canada attended. Later in the year, another conference was held in Quebec, and in 1866 Canadian representatives traveled to London to meet with the British government.

On July 1, 1867, with passage of the British North America Act, the Dominion of Canada was officially established as a self-governing entity within the British Empire. Two years later, Canada acquired the vast possessions of the Hudson's Bay Company, and within a decade the provinces of Manitoba and Prince Edward Island had joined the Canadian federation. In 1885, the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed, making mass settlement across the vast territory of Canada possible.
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Jul 1, 1916:
Battle of the Somme begins

At 7:30 a.m., the British launch a massive offensive against German forces in the Somme River region of France. During the preceding week, 250,000 Allied shells had pounded German positions near the Somme, and 100,000 British soldiers poured out of their trenches and into no-man's-land on July 1, expecting to find the way cleared for them. However, scores of heavy German machine guns had survived the artillery onslaught, and the infantry were massacred. By the end of the day, 20,000 British soldiers were dead and 40,000 wounded. It was the single heaviest day of casualties in British military history. The disastrous Battle of the Somme stretched on for more than four months, with the Allies advancing a total of just five miles.

When World War I broke out in August 1914, great throngs of British men lined up to enlist in the war effort. At the time, it was generally thought that the war would be over within six months. However, by the end of 1914 well over a million soldiers of various nationalities had been killed on the battlefields of Europe, and a final victory was not in sight for either the Allies or the Central Powers. On the Western Front--the battle line that stretched across northern France and Belgium--the combatants had settled down in the trenches for a terrible war of attrition. Maimed and shell-shocked troops returning to Britain with tales of machine guns, artillery barrages, and poison gas seriously dampened the enthusiasm of potential new volunteers.

With the aim of raising enough men to launch a decisive offensive against Germany, Britain replaced voluntary service with conscription in January 1916, when it passed an act calling for the enlistment of all unmarried men between the ages of 18 and 41. After Germany launched a massive offensive of its own against Verdun in February, Britain expanded the Military Service Act, calling for the conscription of all men, married and unmarried, between the ages of 18 and 41. Near the end of June, with the Battle of Verdun still raging, Britain prepared for its major offensive along a 21-mile stretch of the Western Front north of the Somme River.

For a week, the British bombarded the German trenches as a prelude to the attack. British Field Marshal Douglas Haig, commander of the British Expeditionary Force, thought the artillery would decimate the German defenses and allow a British breakthrough; in fact, it served primarily to remove the element of surprise. When the bombardment died down on the morning of July 1, the German machine crews emerged from their fortified trenches and set up their weapons. At 7:30 a.m., 11 British divisions attacked at once, and the majority of them were gunned down. The soldiers optimistically carried heavy supplies for a long march, but few made it more than a couple of hundred yards. Five French divisions that attacked south of the Somme at the same time fared a little better, but without British success little could be done to exploit their gains.

After the initial disaster, Haig resigned himself to smaller but equally ineffectual advances, and more than 1,000 Allied lives were extinguished for every 100 yards gained on the Germans. Even Britain's September 15 introduction of tanks into warfare for the first time in history failed to break the deadlock in the Battle of the Somme. In October, heavy rains turned the battlefield into a sea of mud, and on November 18 Haig called off the Somme offensive after more than four months of mass slaughter.

Except for its effect of diverting German troops from the Battle of Verdun, the offensive was a miserable disaster. It amounted to a total gain of just 125 square miles for the Allies, with more than 600,000 British and French soldiers killed, wounded, or missing in the action. German casualties were more than 650,000. Although Haig was severely criticized for the costly battle, his willingness to commit massive amounts of men and resources to the stalemate along the Western Front did eventually contribute to the collapse of an exhausted Germany in 1918.
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Jul 1, 1775:
Congress resolves to forge Indian alliances

On this day in 1775, the Continental Congress resolves to recruit Indian nations to the American side in their dispute with the British, should the British take native allies of their own. The motion read: “That in case any Agent of the ministry, shall induce the Indian tribes, or any of them to commit actual hostilities against these colonies, or to enter into an offensive Alliance with the British troops, thereupon the colonies ought to avail themselves of an Alliance with such Indian Nations as will enter into the same, to oppose such British troops and their Indian Allies.”

Few “such Indians Nations” saw any advantage to joining the Patriot cause. Rather, they saw Great Britain as their last defense against the encroaching land-hungry European settlers into their ancestral territory. Racist settlers managed to undermine any residual trust remaining in the Native American population during the revolution by committing atrocities such as the massacre of neutral, Christian Indian women and children at prayer in Gnaddenhutten, Pennsylvania, in 1778. In another example, a Continental officer undermined his own cause with the murder of Cornplanter, a Shawnee leader and Patriot ally, in 1777.

At the close of the War for Independence, the Patriots’ few Indian allies received worse treatment at the hands of their supposed allies than natives who had sided with Britain. Having promised Continental soldiers land in return for their service, Congress seized land from its Indian allies in order to cede it to officers on the verge of mutiny in 1783.
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Jul 1, 2005:
Last Ford Thunderbird produced

The last Thunderbird, Ford Motor Company's iconic sports car, emerges from a Ford factory in Wixom, Michigan on this day in 2005.

Ford began its development of the Thunderbird in the years following World War II, during which American servicemen had the opportunity to observe sleek European sports cars. General Motors built the first American sports car: the Chevrolet Corvette, released in 1953. The undeniably sleek Corvette's initial engine performance was relatively underwhelming, but it was gaining lots of attention from the press and public, and Ford was motivated to respond, rushing the Thunderbird to the market in 1955. The 1955 Thunderbird was an immediate hit, selling more than 14,000 that year (compared to just 700 Corvettes). The success of the Thunderbird led Chevrolet to continue production of (and improve upon) the Corvette, which soon became a tough competitor in the sports car market.

In addition to the powerful V-8 engine that Ford was known for, the Thunderbird boasted all the conveniences consumers had become accustomed to, including a removable hard convertible top, soundproofing and the accessories standard to most Ford cars. In 1958, to satisfy critics who thought the T-Bird was too small, Ford released a four-seater version with a roomier trunk and bucket seats. The Beach Boys elevated the Thunderbird to pop- culture-icon status in 1964 by including it in the lyrics of their hit single "Fun Fun Fun" ("she'll have fun, fun, fun 'til her daddy takes the T-Bird away"). By that time, President John F. Kennedy had already included 50 Thunderbirds in his inaugural procession in 1961, and a T-Bird would also feature prominently in the 1973 film "American Graffiti."

Thunderbird sales slowed during the 1990s, and Ford discontinued the Thunderbird in 1997. In 2002, however, in an attempt to capitalize on car buyers' nostalgia, the company launched production of a retro T-Bird, a two-seater convertible that took some of its styling from the original classic. The luxury retailer Neiman Marcus offered an early special edition version in their 2000 Christmas catalog, priced at just under $42,000; their stock of 200 sold out in two hours and 15 minutes. Despite brisk early sales and good reviews, sales of the new Thunderbird couldn't justify continued production, and Ford discontinued it again in mid-2005.
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Duke of Buckingham
07-02-12, 07:39 AM
Jul 2, 1964:
Johnson signs Civil Rights Act

On this day in 1964, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signs into law the historic Civil Rights Act in a nationally televised ceremony at the White House.

In the landmark 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in schools was unconstitutional. The 10 years that followed saw great strides for the African-American civil rights movement, as non-violent demonstrations won thousands of supporters to the cause. Memorable landmarks in the struggle included the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955--sparked by the refusal of Alabama resident Rosa Parks to give up her seat on a city bus to a white woman--and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I have a dream" speech at a rally of hundreds of thousands in Washington, D.C., in 1963.

As the strength of the civil rights movement grew, John F. Kennedy made passage of a new civil rights bill one of the platforms of his successful 1960 presidential campaign. As Kennedy's vice president, Johnson served as chairman of the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunities. After Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, Johnson vowed to carry out his proposals for civil rights reform.

The Civil Rights Act fought tough opposition in the House and a lengthy, heated debate in the Senate before being approved in July 1964. For the signing of the historic legislation, Johnson invited hundreds of guests to a televised ceremony in the White House's East Room. After using more than 75 pens to sign the bill, he gave them away as mementoes of the historic occasion, according to tradition. One of the first pens went to King, leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), who called it one of his most cherished possessions. Johnson gave two more to Senators Hubert Humphrey and Everett McKinley Dirksen, the Democratic and Republican managers of the bill in the Senate.

The most sweeping civil rights legislation passed by Congress since the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, the Civil Rights Act prohibited racial discrimination in employment and education and outlawed racial segregation in public places such as schools, buses, parks and swimming pools. In addition, the bill laid important groundwork for a number of other pieces of legislation--including the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which set strict rules for protecting the right of African Americans to vote--that have since been used to enforce equal rights for women as well as all minorities.
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Jul 2, 1776:
Congress votes for independence

On this day in 1776, the Second Continental Congress, assembled in Philadelphia, formally adopts Richard Henry Lee's resolution for independence from Great Britain. The vote is unanimous, with only New York abstaining.

The resolution had originally been presented to Congress on June 7, but it soon became clear that New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and South Carolina were as yet unwilling to declare independence, though they would likely be ready to vote in favor of a break with England in due course. Thus, Congress agreed to delay the vote on Lees Resolution until July 1. In the intervening period, Congress appointed a committee to draft a formal declaration of independence. Its members were John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Robert R. Livingston of New York and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. Thomas Jefferson, well-known to be the best writer of the group, was selected to be the primary author of the document, which was presented to Congress for review on June 28, 1776.

On July 1, 1776, debate on the Lee Resolution resumed as planned, with a majority of the delegates favoring the resolution. Congress thought it of the utmost importance that independence be unanimously proclaimed. To ensure this, they delayed the final vote until July 2, when 12 colonial delegations voted in favor of it, with the New York delegates abstaining, unsure of how their constituents would wish them to vote. John Adams wrote that July 2 would be celebrated as the most memorable epoch in the history of America. Instead, the day has been largely forgotten in favor of July 4, when Jeffersons edited Declaration of Independence was adopted.
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Jul 2, 1947:
Soviet Union rejects Marshall Plan assistance

Soviet Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov walks out of a meeting with representatives of the British and French governments, signaling the Soviet Union's rejection of the Marshall Plan. Molotov's action indicated that Cold War frictions between the United States and Russia were intensifying.

On June 4, 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall gave a speech in which he announced that the United States was willing to offer economic assistance to the war-torn nations of Europe to help in their recovery. The Marshall Plan, as this program came to be known, eventually provided billions of dollars to European nations and helped stave off economic disaster in many of them. The Soviet reaction to Marshall's speech was a stony silence. However, Foreign Minister Molotov agreed to a meeting on June 27 with his British and French counterparts to discuss the European reaction to the American offer.

Molotov immediately made clear the Soviet objections to the Marshall Plan. First, it would include economic assistance to Germany, and the Russians could not tolerate such aid to the enemy that had so recently devastated the Soviet Union. Second, Molotov was adamant in demanding that the Soviet Union have complete control and freedom of action over any Marshall Plan funds Germany might receive. Finally, the Foreign Minister wanted to know precisely how much money the United States would give to each nation. When it became clear that the French and British representatives did not share his objections, Molotov stormed out of the meeting on July 2. In the following weeks, the Soviet Union pressured its Eastern European allies to reject all Marshall Plan assistance. That pressure was successful and none of the Soviet satellites participated in the Marshall Plan. The Soviet press claimed that the American program was "a plan for interference in the domestic affairs of other countries." The United States ignored the Soviet action and, in 1948, officially established the Marshall Plan and began providing funds to other European nations.

Publicly, U.S. officials argued that the Soviet stance was another indication that Russia intended to isolate Eastern Europe from the West and enforce its communist and totalitarian doctrines in that region. From the Soviet perspective, however, its refusal to participate in the Marshall Plan indicated its desire to remain free from American "economic imperialism" and domination.
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Jul 2, 1990:
Pilgrim stampede kills 1,400

A stampede of religious pilgrims in a pedestrian tunnel in Mecca leaves more than 1,400 people dead on this day in 1990. This was the most deadly of a series of incidents over 20 years affecting Muslims making the trip to Mecca.

To the followers of Islam, traveling to Mecca in Saudi Arabia is known as performing the Hajj. The pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of the religion and must be done at least once in a follower's lifetime, if personal circumstances permit. More than 2 million people make the journey every year. Typically, pilgrims celebrate the feast of Al-Adha and visit the area's many holy sites during their stay.

The large number of people involved in the hajj has often led to tragedy. In 1987, a confrontation between Iranians and Saudis during an anti-American demonstration resulted in 400 deaths. In addition, a ritual in Mina has been the scene of several tragic incidents. There, in a valley near the birthplace of Mohammed, there is a giant pillar representing the devil. The pilgrims throw stones at the pillar over a three-day period. In 1994, 270 people died when too many rushed forward for the stoning. In 1998, at least 110 people were killed in a similar situation and another 180 were seriously injured. In both 2001 and 2002, more than 30 people died at Mina and, in 2003, another 244 pilgrims were killed in a stampede there. In 2006, 363 were killed.

Stampedes have not been the only source of tragedy--a fire in a tent in Mina killed 340 people and injured more than 1,400 more in 1997. Two separate plane crashes carrying pilgrims back home from Saudi Arabia in 1991 killed 261 and 91 people respectively.

In the 1990 tragedy, organizational failures by law enforcement officials combined with the enormous size of the crowd resulted in 1,426 people being crushed or suffocated to death in a long tunnel. Safety measures were taken in the aftermath, but with only limited success.
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Jul 2, 1839:
Mutiny on the Amistad slave ship

Early in the morning, Africans on the Cuban schooner Amistad rise up against their captors, killing two crewmembers and seizing control of the ship, which had been transporting them to a life of slavery on a sugar plantation at Puerto Principe, Cuba.

In 1807, the U.S. Congress joined with Great Britain in abolishing the African slave trade, although the trading of slaves within the United States was not prohibited. Despite the international ban on the importation of African slaves, Cuba continued to transport captive Africans to its sugar plantations until the 1860s, and Brazil to its coffee plantations until the 1850s.

On June 28, 1839, 53 slaves recently captured in Africa left Havana, Cuba, aboard the Amistad schooner for a sugar plantation at Puerto Principe, Cuba. Three days later, Sengbe Pieh, a Membe African known as Cinque, freed himself and the other slaves and planned a mutiny. Early in the morning of July 2, in the midst of a storm, the Africans rose up against their captors and, using sugar-cane knives found in the hold, killed the captain of the vessel and a crewmember. Two other crewmembers were either thrown overboard or escaped, and Jose Ruiz and Pedro Montes, the two Cubans who had purchased the slaves, were captured. Cinque ordered the Cubans to sail the Amistad east back to Africa. During the day, Ruiz and Montes complied, but at night they would turn the vessel in a northerly direction, toward U.S. waters. After almost nearly two difficult months at sea, during which time more than a dozen Africans perished, what became known as the "black schooner" was first spotted by American vessels.

On August 26, the USS Washington, a U.S. Navy brig, seized the Amistad off the coast of Long Island and escorted it to New London, Connecticut. Ruiz and Montes were freed, and the Africans were imprisoned pending an investigation of the Amistad revolt. The two Cubans demanded the return of their supposedly Cuban-born slaves, while the Spanish government called for the Africans' extradition to Cuba to stand trial for piracy and murder. In opposition to both groups, American abolitionists advocated the return of the illegally bought slaves to Africa.

The story of the Amistad mutiny garnered widespread attention, and U.S. abolitionists succeeded in winning a trial in a U.S. court. Before a federal district court in Connecticut, Cinque, who was taught English by his new American friends, testified on his own behalf. On January 13, 1840, Judge Andrew Judson ruled that the Africans were illegally enslaved, that they would not be returned to Cuba to stand trial for piracy and murder, and that they should be granted free passage back to Africa. The Spanish authorities and U.S. President Martin Van Buren appealed the decision, but another federal district court upheld Judson's findings. President Van Buren, in opposition to the abolitionist faction in Congress, appealed the decision again.

On February 22, 1841, the U.S. Supreme Court began hearing the Amistad case. U.S. Representative John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts, who had served as the sixth president of the United States from 1825 to 1829, joined the Africans' defense team. In Congress, Adams had been an eloquent opponent of slavery, and before the nation's highest court he presented a coherent argument for the release of Cinque and the 34 other survivors of the Amistad.

On March 9, 1841, the Supreme Court ruled, with only one dissent, that the Africans had been illegally enslaved and had thus exercised a natural right to fight for their freedom. In November, with the financial assistance of their abolitionist allies, the Amistad Africans departed America aboard the Gentleman on a voyage back to West Africa. Some of the Africans helped establish a Christian mission in Sierra Leone, but most, like Cinque, returned to their homelands in the African interior. One of the survivors, who was a child when taken aboard the Amistad as a slave, eventually returned to the United States. Originally named Margru, she studied at Ohio's integrated and coeducational Oberlin College in the late 1840s before returning to Sierra Leone as evangelical missionary Sara Margru Kinson.
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Jul 2, 1937:
Amelia Earhart disappears

On July 2, 1937, the Lockheed aircraft carrying American aviator Amelia Earhart and navigator Frederick Noonan is reported missing near Howland Island in the Pacific. The pair were attempting to fly around the world when they lost their bearings during the most challenging leg of the global journey: Lae, New Guinea, to Howland Island, a tiny island 2,227 nautical miles away, in the center of the Pacific Ocean. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Itasca was in sporadic radio contact with Earhart as she approached Howland Island and received messages that she was lost and running low on fuel. Soon after, she probably tried to ditch the Lockheed in the ocean. No trace of Earhart or Noonan was ever found.

Amelia Earhart was born in Atchison, Kansas, in 1897. She took up aviation at the age of 24 and later gained publicity as one of the earliest female aviators. In 1928, the publisher George P. Putnam invited her to become the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. The previous year, Charles A. Lindbergh had flown solo nonstop across the Atlantic, and Putnam had made a fortune off Lindbergh's autobiographical book We. In June 1928, Earhart and two men flew from Newfoundland, Canada, to Wales, Great Britain. Although Earhart's only function during the crossing was to keep the plane's log, the flight won her great fame, and Americans were enamored of the daring young pilot. The three were honored with a ticker-tape parade in New York, and "Lady Lindy," as Earhart was dubbed, was given a White House reception by President Calvin Coolidge.

Earhart wrote a book about the flight for Putnam, whom she married in 1931, and gave lectures and continued her flying career under her maiden name. On May 20, 1932, she took off alone from Newfoundland in a Lockheed Vega on the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight by a woman. She was bound for Paris but was blown off course and landed in Ireland on May 21 after flying more than 2,000 miles in just under 15 hours. It was the fifth anniversary of Lindbergh's historic flight, and before Earhart no one had attempted to repeat his solo transatlantic flight. For her achievement, she was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by Congress. Three months later, Earhart became the first woman to fly solo nonstop across the continental United States.

In 1935, in the first flight of its kind, she flew solo from Wheeler Field in Honolulu to Oakland, California, winning a $10,000 award posted by Hawaiian commercial interests. Later that year, she was appointed a consultant in careers for women at Purdue University, and the school bought her a modern Lockheed Electra aircraft to be used as a "flying laboratory."

On March 17, 1937, she took off from Oakland and flew west on an around-the-world attempt. It would not be the first global flight, but it would be the longest--29,000 miles, following an equatorial route. Aboard her Lockheed were Frederick Noonan, her navigator and a former Pan American pilot, and co-pilot Harry Manning. After resting and refueling in Honolulu, the trio prepared to resume the flight. However, while taking off for Howland Island, Earhart ground-looped the plane on the runway, perhaps because of a blown tire, and the Lockheed was seriously damaged. The flight was called off, and the aircraft was shipped back to California for repairs.

In May, Earhart flew the newly rebuilt plane to Miami, from where Noonan and she would make a new around-the-world attempt, this time from west to east. They left Miami on June 1, and after stops in South America, Africa, India, and Southeast Asia, they arrived at Lae, New Guinea, on June 29. About 22,000 miles of the journey had been completed, and the last 7,000 miles would all be over the Pacific Ocean. The next destination was Howland Island, a tiny U.S.-owned island that was just a few miles long. The U.S. Department of Commerce had a weather observation station and a landing strip on the island, and the staff was ready with fuel and supplies. Several U.S. ships, including the Coast Guard cutter Itasca, were deployed to aid Earhart and Noonan in this difficult leg of their journey.

As the Lockheed approached Howland Island, Earhart radioed the Itasca and explained that she was low on fuel. However, after several hours of frustrating attempts, two-way communication was only briefly established, and the Itasca was unable to pinpoint the Lockheed's location or offer navigational information. Earhart circled the Itasca's position but was unable to sight the ship, which was sending out miles of black smoke. She radioed "one-half hour fuel and no landfall" and later tried to give information on her position. Soon after, contact was lost, and Earhart presumably tried to land the Lockheed on the water.

If her landing on the water was perfect, Earhart and Noonan might have had time to escape the aircraft with a life raft and survival equipment before it sank. An intensive search of the vicinity by the Coast Guard and U.S. Navy found no physical evidence of the fliers or their plane. Additional searches through the years have likewise failed to find any trace of the Lockheed or of Earhart and Noonan, who almost certainly perished at sea.
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Duke of Buckingham
07-03-12, 08:17 AM
Jul 3, 1863:
Battle of Gettysburg ends

On the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Confederate General Robert E. Lee's last attempt at breaking the Union line ends in disastrous failure, bringing the most decisive battle of the American Civil War to an end.

In June 1863, following his masterful victory at the Battle of Chancellorsville, General Lee launched his second invasion of the Union in less than a year. He led his 75,000-man Army of Northern Virginia across the Potomac River, through Maryland, and into Pennsylvania, seeking to win a major battle on Northern soil that would further dispirit the Union war effort and induce Britain or France to intervene on the Confederacy's behalf. The 90,000-strong Army of the Potomac pursued the Confederates into Maryland, but its commander, General Joseph Hooker, was still stinging from his defeat at Chancellorsville and seemed reluctant to chase Lee further. Meanwhile, the Confederates divided their forces and investigated various targets, such as Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania capital.

On June 28, President Abraham Lincoln replaced Hooker with General George Meade, and Lee learned of the presence of the Army of the Potomac in Maryland. Lee ordered his army to concentrate in the vicinity of the crossroads town of Gettysburg and prepare to meet the Federal army. At the same time, Meade sent ahead part of his force into Pennsylvania but intended to make a stand at Pipe Creek in Maryland.

On July 1, a Confederate division under General Henry Heth marched into Gettysburg hoping to seize supplies but finding instead three brigades of Union cavalry. Thus began the Battle of Gettysburg, and Lee and Meade ordered their massive armies to converge on the impromptu battle site. The Union cavalrymen defiantly held the field against overwhelming numbers until the arrival of Federal reinforcements. Later, the Confederates were reinforced, and by mid-afternoon some 19,000 Federals faced 24,000 Confederates. Lee arrived to the battlefield soon afterward and ordered a general advance that forced the Union line back to Cemetery Hill, just south of the town.

During the night, the rest of Meade's force arrived, and by the morning Union General Winfield Hancock had formed a strong Union line. On July 2, against the Union left, General James Longstreet led the main Confederate attack, but it was not carried out until about 4 p.m., and the Federals had time to consolidate their positions. Thus began some of the heaviest fighting of the battle, and Union forces retained control of their strategic positions at heavy cost. After three hours, the battle ended, and the total number of dead at Gettysburg stood at 35,000.

On July 3, Lee, having failed on the right and the left, planned an assault on Meade's center. A 15,000-man strong column under General George Pickett was organized, and Lee ordered a massive bombardment of the Union positions. The 10,000 Federals answered the Confederate artillery onslaught, and for more than an hour the guns raged in the heaviest cannonade of the Civil War. At 3 p.m., Pickett led his force into no-man's-land and found that Lee's bombardment had failed. As Pickett's force attempted to cross the mile distance to Cemetery Ridge, Union artillery blew great holes in their lines. Meanwhile, Yankee infantry flanked the main body of "Pickett's charge" and began cutting down the Confederates. Only a few hundred Virginians reached the Union line, and within minutes they all were dead, dying, or captured. In less than an hour, more than 7,000 Confederate troops had been killed or wounded.

Both armies, exhausted, held their positions until the night of July 4, when Lee withdrew. The Army of the Potomac was too weak to pursue the Confederates, and Lee led his army out of the North, never to invade it again. The Battle of Gettysburg was the turning point in the Civil War, costing the Union 23,000 killed, wounded, or missing in action. The Confederates suffered some 25,000 casualties. On November 19, 1863, President Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address during the dedication of a new national cemetery at the site of the Battle of Gettysburg. The Civil War effectively ended with the surrender of General Lee's Army of Northern Virginia in April 1865.
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Jul 3, 1985:
"Back to the Future" released, features 1981 DeLorean DMC-12

On this day in 1985, the blockbuster action-comedy "Back to the Future"--in which John DeLorean's iconic concept car is memorably transformed into a time-travel device--is released in theaters across the United States.

"Back to the Future," directed by Robert Zemeckis, starred Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, a teenager who travels back 30 years using a time machine built by the zany scientist Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd). Doc's mind-blowing creation consists of a DeLorean DMC-12 sports car outfitted with a nuclear reactor. Once the car reaches a speed of 88 miles per hour, the plutonium-powered reactor achieves the "1.21 gigawatts" of power necessary to travel through time. Marty arrives in 1955 only to stumble in the way of his own parents (Crispin Glover and Lea Thompson) and keep them from meeting for the first time, thus putting his own life in jeopardy.

A veteran of the Packard Motor Company and General Motors, John DeLorean founded the DeLorean Motor Company in Detroit in 1975 to pursue his vision of a futuristic sports car. DeLorean eventually set up a factory in Dunmurry, near Belfast in Northern Ireland. There, he built his iconic concept car: the DMC-12, known simply as the DeLorean. An angular vehicle with gull-wing doors, the DeLorean had an unpainted stainless-steel body and a rear-mounted engine. To accommodate taller drivers (like its designer, who was over six feet tall), the car had a roomy interior compared to most sports cars.

Although it was built in Northern Ireland, the DeLorean was intended predominantly for an American audience, so it was built with the driver's seat on the left-hand side. The company built about 9,000 of the cars before it ran out of money and halted production in 1982; only 6,500 of those are still in existence. Despite its short lifespan, the DeLorean remains an object of great interest to car collectors and enthusiasts, no doubt largely due to the smashing success of "Back to the Future" and its two sequels, released in 1989 and 1990. John DeLorean died in March of 2005, at the age of 80.
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Jul 3, 1957:
Khrushchev consolidates his power

Nikita Khrushchev takes control in the Soviet Union by orchestrating the ouster of his most serious opponents from positions of authority in the Soviet government. Khrushchev's action delighted the United States, which viewed him as a more moderate figure in the communist government of Russia.

Khrushchev had been jockeying for ultimate control in the Soviet Union since the death of long-time Russian dictator Joseph Stalin in March 1953. Following Stalin's demise, the Soviet Union was ruled by a 10-member presidium. Khrushchev was only one member of this presidium, but during the following four years he moved steadily to seize total control. In June 1957, Khrushchev survived an attempt by his political opponents to remove him from the government. In July, he had his revenge. Since 1953, he had worked tirelessly to gain allies in the Soviet military and to gain control of the all-important Communist Party apparatus. On July 3, 1957, his years of work paid off as he used his important political connections and alliances to remove the three main challengers to his authority. Vyacheslav Molotov, Georgi M. Malenkov, and Lazar Kaganovich were voted off the presidium and relegated to minor government positions. Khrushchev then reigned supreme, and ruled the Soviet Union until his own ouster in 1964.

In the United States, the news of Khrushchev's "housecleaning" was greeted with optimism. Malenkov and Molotov, in particular, had been viewed as communist "hard-liners" in the Stalinist mold. Khrushchev, on the other hand, was seen as a "moderate" who might be receptive to a more amenable relationship with the United States. In the coming years, U.S. officials were often disappointed with the newest Soviet leader, who seemed to vacillate between warm words about "peaceful coexistence" between the United States and the Soviet Union and aggressive talk about "burying" the capitalist system. Khrushchev's power began seriously to wane in 1962. Many Soviet officials characterized his behavior as "cowardly" during the October 1962 missile crisis in Cuba and he was pushed from power in 1964. Leonid Brezhnev succeeded Nikita Khrushchev.
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Jul 3, 1988:
U.S. warship downs Iranian passenger jet

In the Persian Gulf, the U.S. Navy cruiser Vincennes shoots down an Iranian passenger jet that it mistakes for a hostile Iranian fighter aircraft. Two missiles were fired from the American warship--the aircraft was hit, and all 290 people aboard were killed. The attack came near the end of the Iran-Iraq War, when U.S. vessels were in the gulf defending Kuwaiti oil tankers. Minutes before Iran Air Flight 655 was shot down, the Vincennes had engaged Iranian gunboats that shot at its helicopter.

Iran called the downing of the aircraft a "barbaric massacre," but U.S. officials defended the action, claiming that the aircraft was outside the commercial jet flight corridor, flying at only 7,800 feet, and was on a descent toward the Vincennes. However, one month later, U.S. authorities acknowledged that the airbus was in the commercial flight corridor, flying at 12,000 feet, and not descending. The U.S. Navy report blamed crew error caused by psychological stress on men who were in combat for the first time. In 1996, the U.S. agreed to pay $62 million in damages to the families of the Iranians killed in the attack.
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Jul 3, 1989:
A mother is arrested and accused of killing her four children

Martha Ann Johnson is arrested in Georgia for the 1982 murder of her oldest child, Jennyann Wright, after an Atlanta newspaper initiated a new investigation into her suspicious death. Johnson's three other children had also mysteriously died between 1977 and 1982.

Back in September 1977, Johnson (who was only 21 at the time) and her third husband, Earl Bowen, lived with Johnson's kids, Jennyann Wright and James Taylor, from her previous marriages. Shortly after a dispute in which Bowen walked out on Johnson, two-year-old James was brought to the hospital and pronounced dead. The doctors ruled the cause of death to be sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

In the wake of the tragedy, Bowen returned home and the couple reconciled, having two additional children, Earl Jr. and Tibitha. But in 1980, after Bowen took off again, three-month-old Tibitha was found dead--reportedly the result of SIDS once again. Although Bowen was suspicious, he returned home, where he remained until another fight separated the couple. This time, little Earl was stricken with an unknown seizure disorder and died. Jennyann told social workers that she was afraid of her mother, but the authorities sent her home anyway. A year later, she was dead too--asphyxiated from an undetermined cause.

In 1989, after she split from Bowen for good and married her fourth husband, Johnson was arrested. She quickly confessed that she had smothered Jennyann and James as they slept by sitting on them (she weighed more than 250 pounds), but denied responsibility for the other two deaths. She admitted that her motive was to reunite with Bowen. At her trial, which began in 1990, she recanted her confession, but the jury was able to watch it on videotape nevertheless. They convicted Johnson of first-degree murder.

Johnson's case initiated a trend in the 1990s in which authorities looked more closely into the sudden deaths of young children. Many doctors have insisted that SIDS has been misdiagnosed in a multitude of cases.
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Jul 3, 1940:
Operation Catapult is launched

On this day in 1940, British naval forces destroy the French fleet at Mers-el-Kebir, a port in Algeria, in order to prevent Germany from co-opting the French ships to use in an invasion of Britain.

With the occupation of France, the German aggressor was but a Channel away from Britain. In order to prevent the Germans from using French battleships and cruisers in an attack on Britain, Operation Catapult was conceived: the destruction or capture of every French ship possible. The easiest stage of Catapult was the seizure of those French ships already in British ports. Little resistance was met. But the largest concentration of French warships was at the Oran, Algeria, port of Mers-el-Kebir, where many warships had fled to escape the Germans. This stage of Catapult would prove more difficult.

Britain gave the French ships four choices: join British naval forces in the fight against Germany; hand the ships over to British crews; disarm them; or scuttle them, making them useless to the Germans. The French refused all four choices. Britain then made a concession: Sail to the French West Indies, where the ships would be disarmed or handed over to the United States. The French refused again. So the Brits circled the port and opened fire on the French fleet, killing 1,250 French sailors, damaging the battleship Dunkerque and destroying the Bretagne and the Provence.

On July 4, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill told the House of Commons that he would leave Britain's actions to "history." On July 5, Vichy France broke off diplomatic relations with Britain.
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Duke of Buckingham
07-04-12, 05:51 AM
Jul 4, 1776:
U.S. declares independence

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Continental Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims the independence of the United States of America from Great Britain and its king. The declaration came 442 days after the first volleys of the American Revolution were fired at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts and marked an ideological expansion of the conflict that would eventually encourage France's intervention on behalf of the Patriots.

The first major American opposition to British policy came in 1765 after Parliament passed the Stamp Act, a taxation measure to raise revenues for a standing British army in America. Under the banner of "no taxation without representation," colonists convened the Stamp Act Congress in October 1765 to vocalize their opposition to the tax. With its enactment in November, most colonists called for a boycott of British goods, and some organized attacks on the customhouses and homes of tax collectors. After months of protest in the colonies, Parliament voted to repeal the Stamp Act in March 1766.

Most colonists continued to quietly accept British rule until Parliament's enactment of the Tea Act in 1773, a bill designed to save the faltering East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a monopoly on the American tea trade. The low tax allowed the East India Company to undercut even tea smuggled into America by Dutch traders, and many colonists viewed the act as another example of taxation tyranny. In response, militant Patriots in Massachusetts organized the "Boston Tea Party," which saw British tea valued at some 18,000 pounds dumped into Boston Harbor.

Parliament, outraged by the Boston Tea Party and other blatant acts of destruction of British property, enacted the Coercive Acts, also known as the Intolerable Acts, in 1774. The Coercive Acts closed Boston to merchant shipping, established formal British military rule in Massachusetts, made British officials immune to criminal prosecution in America, and required colonists to quarter British troops. The colonists subsequently called the first Continental Congress to consider a united American resistance to the British.

With the other colonies watching intently, Massachusetts led the resistance to the British, forming a shadow revolutionary government and establishing militias to resist the increasing British military presence across the colony. In April 1775, Thomas Gage, the British governor of Massachusetts, ordered British troops to march to Concord, Massachusetts, where a Patriot arsenal was known to be located. On April 19, 1775, the British regulars encountered a group of American militiamen at Lexington, and the first shots of the American Revolution were fired.

Initially, both the Americans and the British saw the conflict as a kind of civil war within the British Empire: To King George III it was a colonial rebellion, and to the Americans it was a struggle for their rights as British citizens. However, Parliament remained unwilling to negotiate with the American rebels and instead purchased German mercenaries to help the British army crush the rebellion. In response to Britain's continued opposition to reform, the Continental Congress began to pass measures abolishing British authority in the colonies.

In January 1776, Thomas Paine published Common Sense, an influential political pamphlet that convincingly argued for American independence and sold more than 500,000 copies in a few months. In the spring of 1776, support for independence swept the colonies, the Continental Congress called for states to form their own governments, and a five-man committee was assigned to draft a declaration.

The Declaration of Independence was largely the work of Virginian Thomas Jefferson. In justifying American independence, Jefferson drew generously from the political philosophy of John Locke, an advocate of natural rights, and from the work of other English theorists. The first section features the famous lines, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." The second part presents a long list of grievances that provided the rationale for rebellion.

On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted to approve a Virginia motion calling for separation from Britain. The dramatic words of this resolution were added to the closing of the Declaration of Independence. Two days later, on July 4, the declaration was formally adopted by 12 colonies after minor revision. New York approved it on July 19. On August 2, the declaration was signed.

The American War for Independence would last for five more years. Yet to come were the Patriot triumphs at Saratoga, the bitter winter at Valley Forge, the intervention of the French, and the final victory at Yorktown in 1781. In 1783, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris with Britain, the United States formally became a free and independent nation.
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Jul 4, 1987:
Soviets rock for peace

A rock concert in Moscow, jointly organized by American promoters and the Soviet government, plays to a crowd of approximately 25,000. The venture was intended to serve as symbol of peace and understanding between the people of the United States and the Soviet Union.

The idea of a rock concert in Russia was essentially the brainchild of concert promoter Bill Graham, a fixture in the West Coast rock and roll scene. He approached the Soviet government about the idea of holding a show in Moscow. Some Soviet officials were extremely reluctant to consider the concert. For nearly three decades, rock and roll had been castigated by official Soviet propaganda as "decadent" and a threat to public morality. However, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's rise to power in the mid-1980s heralded a new liberalism. The Soviets agreed to host the concert, and it took place on the Fourth of July. Performers included Santana, the Doobie Brothers, and Bonnie Raitt. The security for the show was heavy--some observers said "oppressive"--and most of the 25,000 people who attended were kept far away from the stage. One American reporter claimed that many of the Russians trickled out during the show, bored or disgusted. Only when a Russian folk troupe hit the stage did the crowd muster up much excitement.

The concert was evidence of the new, but still uneasy relationship between the Soviet Union and the United States. Gorbachev's promises of economic and democratic reforms encouraged many in the United States to believe that a new and less antagonistic relationship with Russia might be possible. As the thousands of armed guards at the concert demonstrated, however, the new "openness" in Soviet society was hardly complete.
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Jul 4, 1954:
A sensationalized murder trial inspires The Fugitive

Marilyn Sheppard is beaten to death inside her suburban home in Cleveland, Ohio. Her husband, Dr. Sam Sheppard, claimed to have fallen asleep in the family's living room and awakened to find a man with bushy hair fleeing the scene. The authorities, who uncovered the fact that Dr. Sheppard had been having an affair, did not believe his story and charged him with killing his pregnant wife.

Creating a national sensation, the media invaded the courtroom and printed daily stories premised on Sheppard's guilt. The jurors, who were not sequestered, found Sheppard guilty. Arguing that the circumstances of the trial had unfairly influenced the jury, Sheppard appealed to the Supreme Court and got his conviction overturned in 1966. Yet, despite the fact that Sheppard had no previous criminal record, many still believed that he was responsible for his wife's murder.

The Sheppard case brought to light the issue of bias within the court system. Jurors are now carefully screened to ensure that they have not already come to a predetermined conclusion about a case in which they are about to hear. In especially high-profile cases, jurors can be sequestered so that they are not exposed to outside media sources. However, most judges simply order jurors not to watch news reports about the case, and rely on them to honor the order.

Sheppard's case provided the loose inspiration for the hit television show The Fugitive, in which the lead character, Richard Kimble, is falsely accused of killing his wife, escapes from prison, and pursues the one-armed man he claimed to have seen fleeing the murder scene.

In 1998, DNA tests on physical evidence found at Sheppard's house revealed that there had indeed been another man at the murder scene. Sheppard's son, who had pursued the case long after his father's death in order to vindicate his reputation, sued the state for wrongful imprisonment in 2000, but lost.
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Jul 4, 1997:
Pathfinder lands on Mars

After traveling 120 million miles in seven months, NASA's Mars Pathfinder becomes the first U.S. spacecraft to land on Mars in more than two decades. In an ingenious, cost-saving landing procedure, Pathfinder used parachutes to slow its approach to the Martian surface and then deployed airbags to cushion its impact. Colliding with the Ares Vallis floodplain at 40 miles an hour, the spacecraft bounced high into the Martian atmosphere 16 times before safely coming to rest.

On July 5, the Pathfinder lander was renamed Sagan Memorial Station in honor of the late American astronomer Carl Sagan, and the next day Sojourner, the first remote-control interplanetary rover, rolled off the station. Soujourner, which traveled a total of 171 feet during its 30-day mission, sent back a wealth of information about the chemical components of rock and soil in the area. In addition, nearly 10,000 images of the Martian landscape were taken.

The Mars Pathfinder mission, which cost just $150 million, was hailed as a triumph for NASA, and millions of Internet users visited the official Pathfinder Web site to view images of the red planet.
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Jul 4, 1826:
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams die

On this day in 1826, former Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, who were once fellow Patriots and then adversaries, die on the same day within five hours of each other.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were the last surviving members of the original American revolutionaries who had stood up to the British empire and forged a new political system in the former colonies. However, while they both believed in democracy and life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, their opinions on how to achieve these ideals diverged over time.

Adams preceded Jefferson as president (1797-1800); it was during this time that their ideas about policy-making became as distinct as their personalities. The irascible and hot-tempered Adams was a firm believer in a strong centralized government, while the erudite and gentile Jefferson believed federal government should take a more hands-off approach and defer to individual states' rights. As Adams' vice president, Jefferson was so horrified by what he considered to be Adams' abuse of the presidency--particularly his passage of the restrictive Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798--that he abandoned Adams and Washington for his estate at Monticello. There, he plotted how to bring his Republican faction back into power in the presidential election of 1800. After an exceptionally bitter campaign, in which both parties engaged in slanderous attacks on each other in print, Jefferson emerged victorious. It appeared the former friends would be eternal enemies.

After serving two presidential terms (1801-1809), Jefferson and Adams each expressed to third parties their respect the other and their desire to renew their friendship. Adams was the first to break the silence; he sent Jefferson a letter dated January 1, 1812, in which he wished Jefferson many happy new years to come. Jefferson responded with a note in which he fondly recalled when they were fellow laborers in the same cause. The former revolutionaries went on to resume their friendship over 14 years of correspondence during their golden years.

On July 4, 1826, at the age of 90, Adams lay on his deathbed while the country celebrated Independence Day. His last words were Thomas Jefferson still survives. He was mistaken: Jefferson had died five hours earlier at Monticello at the age of 82.
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Jul 4, 1804:
Lewis and Clark celebrate July 4

Staging the first-ever Fourth of July celebration west of the Mississippi River, Lewis and Clark fire the expedition cannon and order an extra ration of whiskey for the men.

Six weeks earlier, Lewis and Clark left American civilization to depart on their famous journey. Since their departure, the party of 29 men--called the Corps of Discovery--had made good progress, traveling up the Missouri River in a 55-foot keelboat and two dugout canoes. When the wind was behind them, Lewis and Clark raised the keelboat sail, and on a few occasions, managed to travel 20 miles in a single day.

By early July, the expedition had reached the northeastern corner of the present-day state of Kansas. The fertility of the land astonished the two leaders of the expedition. Clark wrote of the many deer, "as plenty as Hogs about a farm," and with his usual creative spelling, praised the tasty "rasberreis perple, ripe and abundant."

On this day in 1804, the expedition stopped near the mouth of a creek flowing out of the western prairie. The men asked the captains if they knew if the creek had a name. Knowing none, they decided to call it Independence Creek in honor of the day.

The expedition continued upstream, making camp that evening at an abandoned Indian village. To celebrate the Fourth of July, Lewis and Clark commanded that the keelboat cannon be fired at sunset. They distributed an extra ration of whiskey to the men, and the explorers settled back to enjoy the peaceful Kansas night. In his final journal entry of the day, Clark wondered at the existence of, "So magnificent a Senerey in a Contry thus Situated far removed from the Sivilised world to be enjoyed by nothing but the Buffalo Elk Deer & Bear in which it abounds & Savage Indians."

The next day, the travelers resumed their journey up the Missouri River toward the distant Pacific Coast. They would not pass by their pleasant camping spot in Kansas again until their return journey, two years and many adventures later.
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947
Happy 4th of July

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Duke of Buckingham
07-05-12, 07:00 AM
July 5

July 5 is the 186th day of the year (187th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 179 days remaining until the end of the year.

1295 – Scotland and France form an alliance, the so-called "Auld Alliance", against England.
1316 – Battle of Manolada between the Burgundian and Majorcan claimants of the Principality of Achaea
1610 – John Guy sets sail from Bristol with 39 other colonists for Newfoundland.
1687 – Isaac Newton publishes Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica.
1770 – The Battle of Chesma between the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire begins.
1775 – The Second Continental Congress adopts the Olive Branch Petition.
1803 – The Convention of Artlenburg leads to the French occupation of Hanover (which had been ruled by the British king).
1809 – The Battle of Wagram, the largest of the Napoleonic Wars.
1811 – Venezuela declares independence from Spain.
1813 – War of 1812: three weeks of British raids on Fort Schlosser, Black Rock and Plattsburgh, New York begin.
1814 – War of 1812: Battle of Chippawa – American Major General Jacob Brown defeats British General Phineas Riall at Chippawa, Ontario.
1830 – France invades Algeria.
1833 – Admiral Charles Napier defeats the navy of the Portuguese usurper Dom Miguel at the third Battle of Cape St. Vincent.
1865 – The Salvation Army is founded in the East End of London, England.
1878 – The coat of arms of the Baku governorate is established.
1884 – Germany takes possession of Cameroon.
1934 – "Bloody Thursday" – Police open fire on striking longshoremen in San Francisco.
1935 – The National Labor Relations Act, which governs labor relations in the United States, is signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
1937 – Spam, the luncheon meat, is introduced into the market by the Hormel Foods Corporation.
1940 – World War II: the United Kingdom and the Vichy France government break off diplomatic relations.
1941 – World War II: German troops reach the Dnieper River.
1943 – World War II: An Allied invasion fleet sails for Sicily (Operation Husky, July 10, 1943).
1943 – World War II: German forces begin a massive offensive against the Soviet Union at the Battle of Kursk. Also know as Operation Citadel
1945 – World War II: Liberation of the Philippines declared.
1946 – Bikini goes on sale after debut during an outdoor fashion show at the Molitor Pool in Paris France
1947 – Larry Doby signs a contract with the Cleveland Indians baseball team, becoming the first black player in the American League. (Jackie Robinson had broken the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in the National League 11 weeks earlier.)
1948 – National Health Service Acts created the national public health systems in the United Kingdom
1950 – Korean War: Task Force Smith – First clash between American and North Korean forces in the Battle of Osan.
1950 – Zionism: the Knesset passes the Law of Return which grants all Jews the right to immigrate to Israel.
1954 – The BBC broadcasts its first television news bulletin.
1954 – The Andhra Pradesh High Court is established.
1962 – Algeria becomes independent from France.
1962 – The Late Late Show, the world's longest-running chat show by the same broadcaster, airs on RTÉ One for the first time.
1970 – Air Canada Flight 621 crashes near Toronto International Airport killing 109 people.
1971 – Right to vote: the Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 years, is formally certified by President Richard Nixon.
1973 – Catastrophic BLEVE (Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion) in Kingman, Arizona, following a fire that broke out as propane is being transferred from a railroad car to a storage tank, kills 11 firefighters.
1975 – Arthur Ashe becomes the first black man to win the Wimbledon singles title.
1975 – Cape Verde gains its independence from Portugal.
1977 – Military coup in Pakistan: Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the first elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, is overthrown.
1987 – First instance of the LTTE using suicide attacks on Sri Lankan Army. The Black Tigers are born, and in the following years continue to use the tactic to deadly effect.
1989 – Iran-Contra Affair: Oliver North is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gerhard A. Gesell to a three-year suspended prison term, two years probation, $150,000 in fines and 1,200 hours community service. His convictions are later overturned.
1995 – Armenia adopts its constitution, four years after their independence from the Soviet Union.
1996 – Dolly the sheep becomes the first mammal cloned from an adult cell.
1999 – Wolverhampton, England is hit by storms which include a tornado. The area is hit again with severe storms on August 1.
1999 – U.S. President Bill Clinton imposes trade and economic sanctions against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
2004 – The first Indonesian presidential election is held.
2006 – North Korea launches at least two short-range Nodong-2 missiles, one SCUD missile and one long-range Taepodong-2 missile.
2009 – A series of violent riots break out in Ürümqi, the capital city of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China.
2009 – Roger Federer wins a record 15th Grand Slam title in tennis, winning a five set match against Andy Roddick at Wimbledon.
2009 – The largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever discovered, consisting of more than 1,500 items, is found near the village of Hammerwich, near Lichfield, in Staffordshire, England.

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Auld Alliance

The Auld Alliance (Scots) (French: Vieille Alliance) was an alliance between the kingdoms of Scotland and France. It played a significant role in the relations between Scotland, France and England from its beginning in 1295 until the 1560 Treaty of Edinburgh. The alliance was renewed by all the French and Scottish monarchs of that period except for Louis XI. By the late 14th century, the renewal occurred regardless of whether either kingdom was involved in a conflict with England.

The alliance dates from the treaty signed by John Balliol and Philip IV of France in 1295 against Edward I of England. The terms of the treaty stipulated that if either country was attacked by England, the other country would invade English territory, as became evident at the Battle of Flodden Field, 1513. The alliance played an important role in conflicts between both countries and England, such as the Wars of Scottish Independence, the Hundred Years' War, the War of the League of Cambrai and the Rough Wooing.

Although during the Middle Ages various assertions were made that the Franco-Scottish relationship began in the reign of Charlemagne, the Auld Alliance is normally dated to 1295. However, historians such as J. D. Mackie have dated it to 1173, when embassies between William I of Scotland and Louis VII of France supported a rebellion against the English king Henry II. Elizabeth Bonner has also referred to talks of "informal cooperation" between the two countries at this time. An example of this was the invasion of England in 1215 led by Alexander II in support of Robert FitzWalter and the Dauphin Louis, during the First Barons' War.

In 1326, Robert the Bruce renewed the alliance, with the Treaty of Corbeil. During the 14th and 15th centuries, the treaty was invoked six times.

Between 1331 and 1356, Edward III of England defeated the kings of both countries. Bonner believes that the alliance meant that he did not succeed in subjugating them.

In 1336, at the beginning of the Hundred Years' War, king Philip VI of France provided military support for David II, who fled to France after being deposed by Edward III of England.

In 1346, under the terms of the Auld Alliance, Scotland invaded England in the interests of France. However, they were defeated, and David II was taken prisoner at the Battle of Neville's Cross.

The alliance was renewed between the two kingdoms in 1371, with the embassy of the Bishop of Glasgow and the Lord of Galloway to France. The treaty was signed by Charles V at the Château de Vincennes on 30 June, and at Edinburgh Castle by Robert II on 28 October.

French and Scottish forces together won against the English at the Battle of Baugé in 1421. As it marked the turning point of the Hundred Years War, the significance of this battle was great. However, their victory was a short-lived one: at Verneuil in 1424, the Scots army was defeated. Despite this defeat, the Scots had given France a valuable breathing space, effectively saving the country from English domination.

In addition, in 1429 Scots came to the aid of Joan of Arc in her famous relief of Orléans. Scottish soldiers also served in the Garde Écossaise, the loyal bodyguard of the French monarchy. Many Scottish mercenaries chose to settle in France. Some were granted lands and titles in France. In the 15th and 16th centuries, they became naturalised French subjects.

In 1558 the alliance between the two kingdoms was further strengthened by the marriage of Mary, Queen of Scots to the future Francis II of France. However, in 1560, after more than 250 years, formal treaties between Scotland and France were officially ended by the Treaty of Edinburgh. With the Scottish Reformation, Scotland was declared Protestant, and allied itself with Protestant England instead. During the Reformation, the Protestant Lords of the Congregation had rejected the Auld Alliance and brokered English military support with their treaty of Berwick against the French Regent Mary of Guise.

Two hundred Scottish soldiers were sent to Normandy in 1562 to aid the French Huguenots in their struggle against royal authority during the French Wars of Religion. The Garde Écossaise, however, continued until 1830 when Charles X of France abdicated.

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Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica

Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, Latin for "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy", often referred to as simply the Principia, is a work in three books by Sir Isaac Newton, first published 5 July 1687. After annotating and correcting his personal copy of the first edition, Newton also published two further editions, in 1713 and 1726. The Principia states Newton's laws of motion, forming the foundation of classical mechanics, also Newton's law of universal gravitation, and a derivation of Kepler's laws of planetary motion (which Kepler first obtained empirically). The Principia is "justly regarded as one of the most important works in the history of science".

The French mathematical physicist Alexis Clairaut assessed it in 1747: "The famous book of mathematical Principles of natural Philosophy marked the epoch of a great revolution in physics. The method followed by its illustrious author Sir Newton ... spread the light of mathematics on a science which up to then had remained in the darkness of conjectures and hypotheses." A more recent assessment has been that while acceptance of Newton's theories was not immediate, by the end of a century after publication in 1687, "no one could deny that" (out of the 'Principia') "a science had emerged that, at least in certain respects, so far exceeded anything that had ever gone before that it stood alone as the ultimate exemplar of science generally."

In formulating his physical theories, Newton developed and used mathematical methods now included in the field of calculus. But the language of calculus as we know it was largely absent from the Principia; Newton gave many of his proofs in a geometric form of infinitesimal calculus, based on limits of ratios of vanishing small geometric quantities. In a revised conclusion to the Principia (see General Scholium), Newton used his expression that became famous, Hypotheses non fingo ("I contrive no hypotheses").

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Bloody Thursday
1934 West Coast waterfront strike

The 1934 West Coast Waterfront Strike (also known as the 1934 West Coast Longshoremen's Strike, as well as a number of variations on these names) lasted eighty-three days, triggered by sailors and a four-day general strike in San Francisco, and led to the unionization of all of the West Coast ports of the United States. The San Francisco General Strike, along with the 1934 Toledo Auto-Lite Strike led by the American Workers Party and the Minneapolis Teamsters Strike of 1934 led by the Communist League of America, were important catalysts for the rise of industrial unionism in the 1930s, much of which was organized through the Congress of Industrial Organizations.

While some of the most powerful people in San Francisco considered the strike's denouement to be a victory for the employers, many longshoremen and seamen did not. Spontaneous strikes over grievances and workplace conditions broke out as strikers returned to their jobs, with longshoremen and teamsters supporting their demands. Employers conceded many of these battles, giving workers even more confidence in demanding that employers lighten unbearably heavy loads. Longshoremen also began dictating other terms, fining members who worked more than the ceiling of 120 hours per month, filing charges against a gang boss for "slandering colored brothers" and forcing employers to fire strikebreakers. Other unions went further: the Marine Firemen proposed to punish any member who bought a Hearst newspaper.

The arbitration award issued on October 12, 1934 cemented the ILA's power. While the award put the operation of the hall in the hands of a committee of union and employer representatives, the union was given the power to select the dispatcher. Since longshoremen were prepared to walk out if an employer didn't hire a worker dispatched from the hall, the ILA soon controlled hiring on the docks. The employers complained that the union wanted to "sovietize" the waterfront. Discharge was a mild penalty, since the worker could obtain other employment through the hiring hall.

The union soon exploited the "quickie strike" tactic to extract many concessions from employers. Similarly, even though an arbitrator held that the 1935 Agreement prohibited sympathy strikes, the union's members nonetheless refused to cross other unions' picket lines. Longshoremen also refused to handle "hot cargo" destined for non-union warehouses that the union was attempting to organize. The ISU acquired similar authority over hiring, despite the philosophical objection of the union's own officers to hiring halls. The ISU used this power to drive strikebreakers out of the industry.

The rift between the seamen's and longshoremen's unions deepened and became more complex in the succeeding years, as Bridges continually fought with the Sailors Union of the Pacific over labor and political issues. The West Coast district of the ILA broke off from the International in 1937 to form the International Longshoremen's Union, later renamed the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union after the union's "march inland" to organize warehouse workers, then renamed the International Longshore and Warehouse Union in recognition of the number of women members.

The arbitration award also gave longshoremen a raise to ninety-five cents an hour for straight time work, just shy of the dollar an hour it demanded during the strike. It was also awarded a contract that applied up and down the West Coast.

The ILWU continues to recognize "Bloody Thursday" by shutting down all West Coast ports every July 5. The ILWU has frequently stopped work for political protests against, among other things, Italy's invasion of Ethiopia, fascist intervention in Spain's civil war, South Africa's system of apartheid and the Iraq War.

Sam Kagel, the last surviving member of the original union steering committee, died on May 21, 2007.

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Iran–Contra affair

The Iran–Contra affair (Persian: ایران-کنترا‎, Spanish: caso Irán-contras), also referred to as Irangate, Contragate or the Iran-Contra scandal, was a political scandal in the United States that came to light in November 1986. During the Reagan administration, senior Reagan administration officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran, the subject of an arms embargo. Some U.S. officials also hoped that the arms sales would secure the release of hostages and allow U.S. intelligence agencies to fund the Nicaraguan Contras. Under the Boland Amendment, further funding of the Contras by the government had been prohibited by Congress.

While President Ronald Reagan was a supporter of the Contra cause, no conclusive evidence has been found showing that he authorized the diversion of the money raised by the Iranian arms sales to the Contras. To this day, it is unclear exactly what Reagan knew and when, and whether the arms sales were motivated by his desire to save the U.S. hostages. After the weapon sales were revealed in November 1986, Reagan appeared on national television and stated that the weapons transfers had indeed occurred, but that the United States did not trade arms for hostages. The investigation was impeded when large volumes of documents relating to the scandal were destroyed or withheld from investigators by Reagan administration officials. On March 4, 1987, Reagan returned to the airwaves in a nationally televised address, taking full responsibility for any actions that he was unaware of, and admitting that "what began as a strategic opening to Iran deteriorated, in its implementation, into trading arms for hostages."

Several investigations ensued, including those by the United States Congress and the three-man, Reagan-appointed Tower Commission. Neither found any evidence that President Reagan himself knew of the extent of the multiple programs. In the end, fourteen administration officials were indicted, including then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. Eleven convictions resulted, some of which were vacated on appeal. The rest of those indicted or convicted were all pardoned in the final days of the presidency of George H. W. Bush, who had been vice-president at the time of the affair.

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Duke of Buckingham
07-06-12, 07:07 AM
July 6

July 6 is the 187th day of the year (188th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 178 days remaining until the end of the year.


371 BC – The Battle of Leuctra, where Epaminondas defeats Cleombrotus I, takes place.
1044 – The Battle of Ménfő between troops led by Emperor Henry III and Magyar forces led by King Samuel takes place.
1189 – Richard I "the Lionheart" is crowned King of England.
1253 – Mindaugas is crowned King of Lithuania.
1348 – Papal bull of Pope Clement VI protecting the Jews accused to have caused the Black Death.
1415 – Jan Hus is burned at the stake.
1483 – Richard III is crowned King of England.
1484 – Portuguese sea captain Diogo Cão finds the mouth of the Congo River.
1495 – First Italian War: Battle of Fornovo – Charles VIII defeats the Holy League, but ultimately ends his attempted conquest of Italy.
1535 – Sir Thomas More is executed for treason against King Henry VIII of England.
1560 – The Treaty of Edinburgh is signed by Scotland and England.
1573 – Córdoba, Argentina, is founded by Jerónimo Luis de Cabrera.
1609 – Bohemia is granted freedom of religion.
1630 – Thirty-Years War: 4,000 Swedish troops under Gustavus Adolphus land in Pomerania, Germany.
1751 – Pope Benedict XIV suppresses the Patriarchate of Aquileia and establishes from its territory the Archdiocese of Udine and Gorizia.
1777 – American Revolutionary War: Siege of Fort Ticonderoga – After a bombardment by British artillery under General John Burgoyne, American forces retreat from Fort Ticonderoga, New York.
1779 – Battle of Grenada: French victory over British naval forces during the American Revolutionary War.
1785 – The dollar is unanimously chosen as the monetary unit for the United States.
1801 – First Battle of Algeciras: Outnumbered French Navy ships defeat the Royal Navy in the fortified Spanish port of Algeciras.
1809 – The second day of the Battle of Wagram sees a French victory over the Austrian army in the largest battle yet of the Napoleonic Wars.
1854 – In Jackson, Michigan, the first convention of the United States Republican Party is held.
1885 – Louis Pasteur successfully tests his vaccine against rabies. The patient is Joseph Meister, a boy who was bitten by a rabid dog.
1887 – David Kalakaua, monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, is forced at gunpoint, at the hands of the Americans, to sign the Bayonet Constitution giving Americans more power in Hawaii while stripping Hawaiian citizens of their rights.
1892 – Dadabhai Naoroji is elected as the first Indian Member of Parliament in Britain.
1892 – 3,800 striking steelworkers engage in a day-long battle with Pinkerton agents during the Homestead Strike, leaving 10 dead and dozens wounded.
1893 – The small town of Pomeroy, Iowa, is nearly destroyed by a tornado that kills 71 people and injures 200.
1905 – Alfred Deakin becomes Prime Minister of Australia for the second time.
1917 – World War I: Arabian troops led by T. E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia") and Auda ibu Tayi capture Aqaba from the Ottoman Empire during the Arab Revolt.
1919 – The British dirigible R34 lands in New York, completing the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by an airship.
1933 – The first Major League Baseball All-Star Game is played in Chicago's Comiskey Park. The American League defeats the National League 4–2.
1936 – A major breach of the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal in England sends millions of gallons of water cascading 200 feet (61 m) into the River Irwell.
1939 – Holocaust: the last remaining Jewish enterprises in Germany are closed.
1941 – Nazi Germany launches its offensive to encircle several Soviet armies near Smolensk.
1942 – Anne Frank and her family go into hiding in the "Secret Annexe" above her father's office in an Amsterdam warehouse.
1944 – Jackie Robinson refuses to move to the back of a bus, leading to a court martial.
1944 – The Hartford Circus Fire, one of America's worst fire disasters, kills approximately 168 people and injures over 700 in Hartford, Connecticut.
1947 – The AK-47 goes into production in the Soviet Union.
1957 – Althea Gibson wins the Wimbledon championships, becoming the first black athlete to do so.
1957 – John Lennon and Paul McCartney of the Beatles are introduced to each other when Lennon's band the Quarrymen performs at the St. Peter's Church Hall fête in Woolton.
1962 – As a part of Operation Plowshare, the Sedan nuclear test takes place.
1964 – Malawi declares its independence from the United Kingdom.
1966 – Malawi becomes a republic, with Hastings Banda as its first President.
1967 – Nigerian Civil War: Nigerian forces invade Biafra, beginning the war.
1975 – The Comoros declare independence from France.
1978 – The Taunton sleeping car fire occurs in Taunton, Somerset killing twelve people.
1986 – Davis Phinney became the first American cyclist to win a road stage of the Tour de France.
1988 – The Piper Alpha drilling platform in the North Sea is destroyed by explosions and fires. 167 oil workers are killed, making it the world's worst offshore oil disaster in terms of direct loss of life.
1989 – The Israeli 405 Bus slaughter in which 14 bus passengers are killed when an Arab assaulted the bus driver as the bus is driving by the edge of a cliff.
1994 – Storm King Mountain, Glenwood Springs, Colorado: South Canyon Fire: 14 firefighters died in the fire.
1997 – The Troubles: In response to the Drumcree dispute, five days of mass protests, riots and gun battles begin in Irish nationalist districts of Northern Ireland.
1998 – Hong Kong's Kai Tak Airport is closed and the new Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok becomes operational.
1999 – U.S. Army private Barry Winchell dies from baseball-bat injuries inflicted in his sleep the previous day by a fellow soldier, Calvin Glover, for his relationship with transgender showgirl and former Navy Corpsman Calpernia Addams.
2003 – The 70-metre Eupatoria Planetary Radar sends a METI message (Cosmic Call 2) to 5 stars: Hip 4872, HD 245409, 55 Cancri (HD 75732), HD 10307 and 47 Ursae Majoris (HD 95128). The messages will arrive to these stars in 2036, 2040, 2044 and 2049 respectively.
2006 – The Nathula Pass between India and China, sealed during the Sino-Indian War, re-opens for trade after 44 years.

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Richard I of England

Richard I (8 September 1157 – 6 April 1199) was King of England from 6 July 1189 until his death. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Count of Nantes, and Overlord of Brittany at various times during the same period. He was known as Cœur de Lion, or Richard the Lionheart, even before his accession, because of his reputation as a great military leader and warrior. The Saracens called him Melek-Ric or Malek al-Inkitar – King of England.

By the age of sixteen, Richard was commanding his own army, putting down rebellions in Poitou against his father, King Henry II. Richard was a central Christian commander during the Third Crusade, effectively leading the campaign after the departure of Philip II of France and scoring considerable victories against his Muslim counterpart, Saladin, but was unable to reconquer Jerusalem.

Although speaking only langue d'oïl and langue d'oc and spending very little time in England (he lived in his Duchy of Aquitaine in the southwest of France, preferring to use his kingdom as a source of revenue to support his armies), he was seen as a pious hero by his subjects. He remains one of the very few Kings of England remembered by his epithet, rather than regnal number, and is an enduring, iconic figure in England and France.

Richard's reputation over the years has "fluctuated wildly", according to historian John Gillingham. Richard's contemporaneous image was that of a king who was also a knight, and that was apparently the first such instance of this combination. He was known as a valiant and competent military leader and individual fighter: courageous and generous. That reputation has come down through the ages and defines the popular image of Richard. He left an indelible imprint on the imagination extending to the present, in large part because of his military exploits. This is reflected in Steven Runciman's final verdict of Richard I: "he was a bad son, a bad husband and a bad king, but a gallant and splendid soldier." ("History of the Crusades" Vol. III) Meanwhile, Muslim writers during the Crusades period and after wrote of him: "Never have we had to face a bolder or more subtle opponent."

Richard, however, also received negative portrayals. During his life, he was criticised by chroniclers for having taxed the clergy both for the Crusade and for his ransom, whereas the church and the clergy were usually exempt from taxes. Victorian England was divided on Richard: "Many of them admired him as a crusader and man of God, erecting an heroic statue to him outside the Houses of Parliament; Stubbs, on the other hand, thought him 'a bad son, a bad husband, a selfish ruler, and a vicious man'. Though born in Oxford, he spoke no English. During his ten years' reign, he was in England for no more than six months, and was totally absent for the last five years.

Richard produced no legitimate heirs and acknowledged only one illegitimate son, Philip of Cognac. As a result, he was succeeded by his brother John as King of England. However, his French territories initially rejected John as a successor, preferring his nephew Arthur of Brittany, the son of their late brother Geoffrey, whose claim was by modern standards better than John's. Significantly, the lack of any direct heirs from Richard was the first step in the dissolution of the Angevin Empire. While Kings of England continued to press claims to properties on the continent, they would never again command the territories Richard I inherited.


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Diogo Cão

Diogo Cão (Portuguese pronunciation: [diˈoɣu ˈkɐ̃w̃]; in old Portuguese: Cam) was a Portuguese explorer and one of the most notable navigators of the Age of Discovery, who made two voyages sailing along the west coast of Africa to Namibia in the 1480s.

He was born in Vila Real (some say in Évora), in the middle of the 15th century, ca. 1452, the illegitimate son of Álvaro Fernandes or Gonçalves Cão, fidalgo of the Royal Household, himself the illegitimate son of Gonçalo Cão. He married and had four children: Pedro Cão, Manuel Cão, André Afonso Cão, and Isabel Cão.

He was the first European known to sight and enter the Congo River and to explore the West African coast between Cape St. Catherine and Cape Cross, almost from the equator to Walvis Bay in Namibia.

First voyage

When King John II of Portugal revived the work of Henry the Navigator, he sent out Cão (about midsummer (?) 1482) to open up the African coast still further beyond the equator. The mouth and estuary of the Congo was now discovered (perhaps in August 1482), and marked by a Padrão, or stone pillar (still existing, but only in fragments) erected on Shark Point, attesting the sovereignty of Portugal; the great river was also ascended for a short distance, and intercourse was opened with the natives of the Bakongo kingdom. Cão then coasted down along the present Angola (Portuguese West Africa), and erected a second pillar, probably marking the termination of this voyage, at Cape Santa Maria (the Monte Negro of these first visitors). He certainly returned to Lisbon by the beginning of April 1484, when John II ennobled him, made him a cavaleiro (knight) of his household (he was already an escudeiro or esquire in the same), and granted him an annuity and a coat of arms (April 8, 1484 and April 14, 1484). In the return he discovered the Island of Annobón.

Second voyage

That Cão, on his second voyage of 1484-1486, was accompanied by Martin Behaim (as alleged on the latters Nuremberg globe of 1492) is very doubtful; but we know that the explorer revisited the Congo and erected two more pillars beyond the furthest of his previous voyage. The first at another Monte Negro, the second at Cape Cross. Cape Cross probably marking the end of his progress southward, advancing 1,400 kilometers. He raised the river Congo which he considered as the access road towards the realm of Prester John up to the neighborhood of the site of Matadi. There, in October or November, 1485, near the falls of Ielala, he left an inscription engraved on the stone which testifies of its passage and that of his men : "Aqui chegaram os navios do esclarecido rei D.João II de Portugal - Diogo Cão, Pero Anes, Pero da Costa." ("Here arrived the ships of king John II of Portugal – Diogo Cão, Pero Anes, Pero da Costa”.

According to one authority (a legend on the 1489 map of Henricus Martellus Germanus), Cão died off Cape Cross; but João de Barros and others wrote of his return to the Congo, and subsequent taking of a native envoy to Portugal. The four pillars set up by Cão on his two voyages have all been discovered in situ, and the inscriptions on two of them from Cape Santa Maria and Cape Cross, dated 1482 and 1485 respectively, are still to be read and have been printed; the Cape Cross padrão is now at Kiel (replaced on the spot by a granite facsimile); those from the Congo estuary and the more southerly Monte Negro are in the Museum of the Lisbon Geographical Society.


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Battle of Aqaba

Battle of Aqaba (July 1917) was fought for the Jordanian port of Aqaba. The attacking forces of the Arab Revolt, led by Auda ibu Tayi and T. E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia"), were victorious over the Turkish defenders.

The actual battle for Aqaba occurred for the most part at a Turkish blockhouse at Abu al Lasan, about halfway between Aqaba and the town of Ma'an. A group of separate Arab rebels, acting in conjunction with the expedition, had seized the blockhouse a few days before, but a Turkish infantry battalion arrived on the scene and recaptured it. The Turks then attacked a small, nearby encampment of Arabs and killed several of them.

After hearing of this, Auda personally led an attack on the Turkish troops there, attacking at mid-day on July 6. The charge was a wild success. Turkish resistance was slight; the Arabs brutally massacred hundreds of Turks as revenge before their leaders could restrain them. In all, three hundred Turks were killed and another 300 taken prisoner, in exchange for the loss of two Arabs killed and a handful of wounded. Lawrence was nearly killed in the action; he accidentally shot the camel he was riding in the head with his pistol, but was fortunately thrown out of harm's way when he fell. Auda was grazed numerous times, with his favorite pair of field glasses being destroyed, but was otherwise unharmed.

Meanwhile, a small group of British naval vessels appeared offshore of Aqaba itself and began shelling it. At this point, Lawrence, Auda, and Nasir had rallied their troops; their total force had risen to 5,000 men by a local Bedouin who, with the defeat of the Turks at Lasan, now openly joined Lawrence's expedition. This force maneuvered themselves past the outer works of Aqaba's defensive lines, approached the gates of Aqaba, and its garrison surrendered without further struggle.


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The flag of the Arab revolt forces in Aqaba

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Piper Alpha

Piper Alpha was a North Sea oil production platform operated by Occidental Petroleum (Caledonia) Ltd. The platform began production in 1976, first as an oil platform and then later converted to gas production. An explosion and resulting fire destroyed it on 6 July 1988, killing 167 men, with only 61 survivors. The death toll includes two crewmen of a rescue vessel. Total insured loss was about £1.7 billion (US$3.4 billion). At the time of the disaster, the platform accounted for approximately ten percent of North Sea oil and gas production, and was the worst offshore oil disaster in terms of lives lost and industry impact.

The Kirk of St Nicholas in Union Street, Aberdeen has dedicated a chapel in memory of those who perished and there is a memorial sculpture in the Rose Garden of Hazlehead Park in Aberdeen. Thirty bodies were not recovered.

There is controversy about whether there was sufficient time for more effective emergency evacuation. The main problem was that most of the personnel who had the authority to order evacuation had been killed when the first explosion destroyed the control room. This was a consequence of the platform design, including the absence of blast walls. Another contributing factor was that the nearby connected platforms Tartan and Claymore continued to pump gas and oil to Piper Alpha until its pipeline ruptured in the heat in the second explosion. Their operations crews did not believe they had authority to shut off production, even though they could see that Piper Alpha was burning.

The blazing remains of the platform were eventually extinguished three weeks later by a team led by famed firefighter Red Adair, despite reported conditions of 80 mph (130 km/h) winds and 70-foot (20 m) waves.

The part of the platform which contained the galley where about 100 victims had taken refuge was recovered in late 1988 from the sea bed, and the bodies of 87 men were found inside.


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Cosmic Call

Cosmic Call was the name of two interstellar radio messages that were sent from RT-70 in Yevpatoria in 1999 and 2003 to various nearby stars. The messages were designed with noise resistant format and characters.

Thee project was funded by Team Encounter, a Texas-based startup that went out of business in 2004.

List of interstellar radio messages

There are seven realized IRM projects:

The Morse Message (1962)
Arecibo Message (1974), one transmission to Messier 13
Cosmic Call 1 (1999), four transmissions to nearby Sun-like stars
Teen Age Message (2001), six transmissions
Cosmic Call 2 (2003), five transmissions
A Message From Earth (2008), one transmission to Gliese 581
Across the Universe (2008)
Hello From Earth (HFE, 2009)


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RT-70 in Yevpatoria

Duke of Buckingham
07-07-12, 06:40 AM
July 7

July 7 is the 188th day of the year (189th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 177 days remaining until the end of the year.

The terms 7th July, July 7th, and 7/7 (pronounced "Seven-seven") have been widely used in the Western media as a shorthand for the 7 July 2005 bombings on London's transport system. In the Chinese language, this term is used to denote the Battle of Lugou Bridge started on July 7, 1937, marking the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War.


1456 – A retrial verdict acquits Joan of Arc of heresy 25 years after her death.
1534 – European colonization of the Americas: first known exchange between Europeans and natives of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in New Brunswick.
1543 – French troops invade Luxembourg.
1575 – Raid of the Redeswire, the last major battle between England and Scotland.
1585 – The Treaty of Nemours abolishes tolerance to Protestants in France.
1770 – The Battle of Larga between the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire takes place.
1777 – American Revolutionary War: American forces retreating from Fort Ticonderoga are defeated in the Battle of Hubbardton.
1798 – Quasi-War: the U.S. Congress rescinds treaties with France sparking the "war".
1807 – Napoleonic Wars: the Peace of Tilsit between France, Prussia and Russia ends the Fourth Coalition.
1834 – In New York City, four nights of rioting against abolitionists began.
1846 – Mexican-American War: American troops occupy Monterey and Yerba Buena, thus beginning the U.S. acquisition of California.
1863 – United States begins its first military draft; exemptions cost $300.
1865 – American Civil War: four conspirators in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln are hanged.
1892 – Katipunan: the Revolutionary Philippine Brotherhood is established, contributing to the fall of the Spanish Empire in Asia.
1898 – U.S. President William McKinley signs the Newlands Resolution annexing Hawaii as a territory of the United States.
1907 – Florenz Ziegfeld staged his first Follies on the roof of the New York Theater in New York City.
1911 – The United States, Great Britain, Japan, and Russia sign the North Pacific Fur Seal Convention of 1911 banning open-water seal hunting, the first international treaty to address wildlife preservation issues.
1915 – World War I: end of First Battle of the Isonzo.
1915 – An International Railway trolley with an extreme overload of 157 passengers crashes near Queenston, Ontario, killing 15.
1915 – Militia officer Henry Pedris executed by firing squad at Colombo, Ceylon - an act widely regarded as a miscarriage of justice by the British colonial authorities.
1928 – Sliced bread is sold for the first time by the Chillicothe Baking Company of Chillicothe, Missouri.
1930 – Industrialist Henry J. Kaiser begins construction of the Boulder Dam (now known as Hoover Dam).
1937 – Sino-Japanese War: Battle of Lugou Bridge – Japanese forces invade Beijing, China.
1941 – World War II: U.S. forces land in Iceland, taking over from an earlier British occupation.
1941 – World War II: Beirut is occupied by Free France and British troops.
1944 – World War II: Largest Banzai charge of the Pacific War at the Battle of Saipan.
1946 – Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini becomes the first American to be canonized.
1946 – Howard Hughes nearly dies when his XF-11 spy plane prototype crashes in a Beverly Hills neighborhood.
1952 – The ocean liner SS United States passes Bishop's Rock on her maiden voyage, breaking the transatlantic speed record to become the fastest passenger ship in the world.
1953 – Ernesto "Che" Guevara sets out on a trip through Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador.
1954 – Elvis Presley made his radio debut when WHBQ Memphis played his first recording for Sun Records, "That's All Right."
1956 – Fritz Moravec and two other Austrian mountaineers make the first ascent of Gasherbrum II (8,035 m).
1958 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the Alaska Statehood Act into law.
1959 – Venus occults the star Regulus. This rare event is used to determine the diameter of Venus and the structure of the Venusian atmosphere.
1978 – The Solomon Islands become independent from the United Kingdom.
1980 – Institution of sharia in Iran.
1980 – During the Lebanese civil war, 83 Tiger militants are killed during what will be known as the Safra massacre.
1981 – U.S. President Ronald Reagan appoints Sandra Day O'Connor to become the first female member of the Supreme Court of the United States.
1983 – Cold War: Samantha Smith, a U.S. schoolgirl, flies to the Soviet Union at the invitation of Secretary General Yuri Andropov.
1985 – Boris Becker becomes the youngest player ever to win Wimbledon at age 17
1991 – Yugoslav Wars: the Brioni Agreement ends the ten-day independence war in Slovenia against the rest of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
1997 – The Turkish Armed Forces withdraw from northern Iraq after assisting the Kurdistan Democratic Party in the Iraqi Kurdish Civil War.
2002 – A scandal breaks out in the United Kingdom when news reports accuse MI6 of sheltering Abu Qatada, the supposed European Al Qaeda leader.
2005 – A series of four explosions occurs on London's transport system killing 56 people including four alleged suicide bombers and injuring over 700 others.
2011 – Roof of a stand in De Grolsch Veste Stadium in Enschede which was under construction collapsed, one killed and 14 injured.


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Retrial of Joan of Arc

The Retrial of Joan of Arc, also known as the "nullification trial", was a posthumous retrial of Joan of Arc authorized by Pope Callixtus III, at the request of Inquisitor-General Jean Brehal and Joan's mother Isabelle Romée. The aim of the trial was to investigate whether the trial of condemnation and its verdict had been handled justly and according to canon law. Investigations started in 1452, and a formal appeal followed in November, 1455. The final summary in June, 1456 described Joan as a martyr and implicated the late Pierre Cauchon with heresy for having convicted an innocent woman in pursuit of a secular vendetta. The court declared her innocence on 7 July 1456.

Nevertheless, almost two years were to elapse before a new push emerged to clear Joan’s name. This time it came from an unexpected source – the mother and brothers of Joan. Addressing a petition to the new pope, Callixtus III, with help from d’Estouteville who was the family’s representative in Rome, they demanded the reparation of Joan’s honor, a redress of the injustice she suffered and the citation of her judges to appear before a tribunal. In response to this plea, Callixtus appointed three members of the French higher clergy to act in concert with Inquisitor Brehal to review the case and pass judgment as required. The three men were Jean Juvenal des Ursins, archbishop of Rheims, Richard Olivier de Longueil, bishop of Coutances, and Guillaume Chartier, bishop of Paris.

Of the three, the archbishop of Rheims was the most prestigious, occupying the highest ecclesiastical seat in France. He also demonstrated a great deal of reticence towards the case and Joan’s memory, going so far as to advise Joan’s mother in 1455 not to proceed with her claim. There were reasons for this. He had held the see of the Diocese of Beauvais from 1432, which had been the diocese where Joan had been condemned just the year before. He was also a supporter of Gallicanism, and was very concerned with Pope Callixtus’ and d’Estouteville’s interference in the affairs of the French Church. He was however, concerned about the claims that Charles had recovered his kingdom by using a heretic and a sorceress, and thus by default he too was a heretic.

This desire to limit the damage inflicted on the French Church by the original trial, and thus prevent Papal interference, together with the need to remove the final remaining objection to Charles’ claim of sovereignty of France determined the outcome of the nullification trial. If the verdict were to be limited to the fact that she was unjustly condemned, then the inquiry had no need to go further than simply denounce the original procedure at the trial of 1431, without making a formal declaration on the question of Joan’s orthodoxy. This would then lead to the annulment of the sentence on the grounds that her judges and assessors had proceeded improperly, through either fear of the English, or just through plain and simple error.

The appellate process included clergy from throughout Europe and observed standard court procedure. A panel of theologians analyzed testimony from some 150 witnesses, most of whom had more or less unanimously testified to her purity, integrity and courage. The remaining principal players were less forthcoming under examination, repeatedly claiming not to remember the details of the 1431 proceedings, especially regarding whether Joan had been tortured. There were also a number of key individuals who were not examined by the tribunal, including the bishop of Beauvais. Nevertheless, Brehal drew up his final summary in June, 1456, which described Joan as a martyr and implicated the late Pierre Cauchon with heresy for having convicted an innocent woman in pursuit of a secular vendetta.

The court declared her innocence on 7 July 1456 by annulling her sentence. They declared that Joan had been tried as a result of ‘false articles of accusation’. Those articles and Cauchon’s sentence were to be torn out of a copy of the proceedings and burnt by the public executioner at Rouen. But apart from that and the implicit condemnation of the now deceased Cauchon (who was not mentioned by name in the definitive sentence), the tribunal did not go any further. The sentence did not make any mention of her orthodoxy or sanctity. No penalty was extracted from her judges or assessors from 1431, many of whom were still alive. Finally, it was expressly forbidden that any images to Joan be set up at Rouen or elsewhere.

Although there were unsatisfactory aspects to the process of rehabilitation, it satisfied Charles VII in that it cleared Joan of Arc of the specific accusations of heresy she was convicted of in 1431, but left untouched the more thorny subject of the guilt of many of the higher members of the French clergy who were still active and prominent in the 1450s.


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Doctors of the University of Paris were involved in the initial trial of Joan of Arc.

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European colonization of the Americas

The start of the European colonization of the Americas is typically dated to 1492. However, L'Anse aux Meadows in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador is much older. Dating from 1000AD, it is the only known site of a Norse or Viking village in Canada, and in North America outside of Greenland. L'Anse aux Meadows remains the only widely accepted instance of pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact and is notable for its possible connection with the attempted colony of Vinland established by Leif Ericson around the same time period or, more broadly, with Norse exploration of the Americas.

In 1492, a Spanish expedition headed by Christopher Columbus sailed to America to sell, buy, and trade rich spices and other goods. European conquest, exploration, and large-scale exploration and colonization soon followed. This first occurred along the Caribbean coasts on the islands of Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and Cuba, and after 1500 extended into the interiors of both North and South America. In 1497, sailing from the north on behalf of England, John Cabot landed on the North American coast, and a year later, Columbus's third voyage reached the South American coast.

France founded colonies in much of eastern North America, on a number of Caribbean islands, and in South America. Portugal colonized Brazil.

Eventually, the entire Western Hemisphere came under the control of European governments, leading to profound changes to its landscape, population, and plant and animal life. In the 19th century alone over 50 million people left Europe for the Americas. The post-1492 era is known as the period of the Columbian Exchange.

In 2007, the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History and the Virginia Historical Society (VHS) co-organized a traveling exhibition to recount the strategic alliances and violent conflict between European empires (English, Spanish, French) and the Native people living in North America. The exhibition was presented in three languages and with multiple perspectives. Artifacts on display included rare surviving Native and European artifacts, maps, documents, and ceremonial objects from museums and royal collections on both sides of the Atlantic. The exhibition opened in Richmond, Virginia on March 17, 2007, and closed at the Smithsonian International Gallery on October 31, 2009.

The related online exhibition explores the international origins of the societies of Canada and the United States and commemorates the 400th anniversary of three lasting settlements in Jamestown (1607), Québec (1608), and Santa Fe (1609). The site is accessible in three languages.


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Territories in the Americas colonized or claimed by a European great power in 1750.

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North Pacific Fur Seal Convention of 1911

The North Pacific Fur Seal Convention of 1911, formally known as the Convention between the United States and Other Powers Providing for the Preservation and Protection of Fur Seals, was an international treaty signed on July 7, 1911 designed to manage the commercial harvest of fur bearing mammals (such as Northern fur seals and sea otters) in the Pribilof Islands of the Bering Sea. The treaty, signed by the United States, Great Britain, Japan, and Russia, outlawed open-water seal hunting and acknowledged the United States' jurisdiction in managing the on-shore hunting of seals for commercial purposes. It was the first international treaty to address wildlife preservation issues.

The two most significant terms of the treaty were the banning of pelagic seal hunting and the granting of jurisdiction to the United States in managing on-shore hunts. In exchange for granting jurisdiction to the United States, the other signatories to the treaties were guaranteed payments and/or minimum takes of seal furs while the treaty remained in effect, subject to certain conditions.

The treaty also provided an exemption to aboriginal tribes which hunted seals using traditional methods and for non-commercial purposes including food and shelter. Aboriginal tribes specifically mentioned in the treaty include the Aleut and Aino (Ainu) peoples.


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The treaty was created to regulate hunting of the Northern fur seal, pictured here.

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Venus

Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. The planet is named after Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6, bright enough to cast shadows. Because Venus is an inferior planet from Earth, it never appears to venture far from the Sun: its elongation reaches a maximum of 47.8°. Venus reaches its maximum brightness shortly before sunrise or shortly after sunset, for which reason it has been known as the Morning Star or Evening Star.

Venus is classified as a terrestrial planet and it is sometimes called Earth's "sister planet" owing to their similar size, gravity, and bulk composition. Venus is covered with an opaque layer of highly reflective clouds of sulfuric acid, preventing its surface from being seen from space in visible light. Venus has the most dense atmosphere of all the terrestrial planets in the Solar System, consisting of mostly carbon dioxide. The atmospheric pressure at the planet's surface is 92 times that of the Earth. Venus has no carbon cycle to lock carbon back into rocks and surface features, nor does it seem to have any organic life to absorb it in biomass. Venus is believed to have previously possessed oceans, but these evaporated as the temperature rose owing to the runaway greenhouse effect. The water has most probably photodissociated, and, because of the lack of a planetary magnetic field, the free hydrogen has been swept into interplanetary space by the solar wind. Venus' surface is a dry desertscape with many slab-like rocks, periodically refreshed by volcanism.


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Global radar view of the surface from Magellan radar imaging between 1990-1994

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7 July 2005 London bombings

The 7 July 2005 London bombings (often referred to as 7/7) were a series of co-ordinated suicide attacks in London which targeted civilians using the public transport system during the morning rush hour.

On the morning of Thursday, 7 July 2005, four Islamist home-grown terrorists detonated four bombs, three in quick succession aboard London Underground trains across the city and, later, a fourth on a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square. Fifty-two people, as well as the four bombers, were killed in the attacks, and over 700 more were injured.

The explosions were caused by homemade organic peroxide-based devices packed into rucksacks. The bombings were followed exactly two weeks later by a series of attempted attacks.

Since the bombings, the United Kingdom and other nations have honoured the victims in several ways. Most of these memorials have included moments of silence, candlelit vigils, and the laying of flowers at the attack sites. Foreign leaders have also remembered the dead by ordering their flags to be flown at half-mast, signing books of condolences at embassies of the UK, and issuing messages of support and condolences to the British people.


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Emergency services at Russell Square tube station on 7 July 2005

Duke of Buckingham
07-08-12, 06:52 AM
July 8

July 8 is the 189th day of the year (190th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 176 days remaining until the end of the year.


1099 – First Crusade: 15,000 starving Christian soldiers march in a religious procession around Jerusalem as its Muslim defenders look on.
1283 – War of the Sicilian Vespers: Roger of Lauria, commanding the Aragonese fleet defeats a Angevin fleet sent to put down a rebellion on Malta in the Battle of Malta.
1497 – Vasco da Gama sets sail on the first direct European voyage to India.
1579 – Our Lady of Kazan, a holy icon of the Russian Orthodox Church, is discovered underground in the city of Kazan, Tatarstan.
1663 – Charles II of England grants John Clarke a Royal charter to Rhode Island.
1709 – Great Northern War: Battle of Poltava – Peter I of Russia defeats Charles XII of Sweden at Poltava thus effectively ending Sweden's role as a major power in Europe.
1716 – Great Northern War: the naval Battle of Dynekilen takes place.
1730 – An estimated magnitude 8.7 earthquake causes a tsunami that damages more than 1,000 km (620 mi) of Chile's coastline.
1758 – French forces hold Fort Carillon against the British at Ticonderoga, New York.
1760 – French and Indian War: Battle of Restigouche – British forces defeat French forces in last naval battle in New France.
1775 – The Olive Branch Petition is signed by the Continental Congress of the Thirteen Colonies.
1808 – Joseph Bonaparte approves the Bayonne Statute, a royal charter intended as the basis for his rule as king of Spain.
1822 – Chippewas turn over a huge tract of land in Ontario to the United Kingdom.
1859 – King Charles XV & IV accedes to the throne of Sweden-Norway.
1864 – Ikedaya Incident: the Choshu Han shishi's planned Shinsengumi sabotage on Kyoto, Japan at Ikedaya.
1874 – The Mounties begin their March West.
1876 – White supremacists kill five Black Republicans in Hamburg, South Carolina.
1879 – Sailing ship USS Jeannette (1878) departs San Francisco carrying an ill-fated expedition to the North Pole.
1889 – The first issue of The Wall Street Journal is published.
1892 – St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada is devastated in the Great Fire of 1892.
1898 – The death of crime boss Soapy Smith (who is shot) releases Skagway, Alaska from his iron grip.
1912 – Henrique Mitchell de Paiva Couceiro leads an unsuccessful royalist attack against the First Portuguese Republic in Chaves.
1932 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average reaches its lowest level of the Great Depression, closing at 41.22.
1937 – Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan sign the Treaty of Saadabad.
1947 – Reports are broadcast that a UFO crash landed in Roswell, New Mexico.
1948 – The United States Air Force accepts its first female recruits into a program called Women in the Air Force (WAF).
1960 – Francis Gary Powers is charged with espionage resulting from his flight over the Soviet Union.
1962 – Ne Win besieges and dynamites the Rangoon University Student Union building to crush the Student Movement.
1966 – King Mwambutsa IV Bangiriceng of Burundi is deposed by his son Prince Charles Ndizi.
1970 – Richard Nixon delivers a special congressional message enunciating Native American self-determination as official US Indian policy, leading to the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975.
1982 – Assassination attempt against Iraqi president Saddam Hussein in Dujail.
1988 – The Island Express train travelling from Bangalore to Kanyakumari derails on the Peruman bridge and falls into Ashtamudi Lake, killing 105 passengers and injuring over 200 more.
1994 – Kim Jong-il begins to assume supreme leadership of North Korea upon the death of his father, Kim Il-sung.
2011 – Space Shuttle Atlantis is launched in the final mission of the U.S. Space Shuttle program.

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Vasco da Gama

Vasco da Gama (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈvaʃku ðɐ ˈɣɐmɐ]) (c. 1460 or 1469 – 24 December 1524), 1st Count of Vidigueira, was a Portuguese explorer, one of the most successful in the Age of Discovery and the commander of the first ships to sail directly from Europe to India. For a short time in 1524 he was the Governor of Portuguese India, under the title of Viceroy.

The fleet arrived in Kappadu near Calicut, India on 20 May 1498. The King of Calicut, the Samudiri (Zamorin), who was at that time staying in his second capital at Ponnani, returned to Calicut on hearing the news of the foreign fleets's arrival. The navigator was received with traditional hospitality, including a grand procession of at least 3,000 armed Nairs, but an interview with the Zamorin failed to produce any concrete results. The presents that da Gama sent to the Zamorin as gifts from Dom Manuel—four cloaks of scarlet cloth, six hats, four branches of corals, twelve almasares, a box with seven brass vessels, a chest of sugar, two barrels of oil and a cask of honey—were trivial, and failed to impress. While Zamorin's officials wondered at why there was no gold or silver, the Muslim merchants who considered da Gama their rival suggested that the latter was only an ordinary pirate and not a royal ambassador.[15] Vasco da Gama's request for permission to leave a factor behind him in charge of the merchandise he could not sell was turned down by the King, who insisted that da Gama pay customs duty—preferably in gold—like any other trader, which strained the relation between the two. Annoyed by this, da Gama carried a few Nairs and sixteen fishermen (mukkuva) off with him by force. Nevertheless, da Gama's expedition was successful beyond all reasonable expectation, bringing in cargo that was worth sixty times the cost of the expedition.

Vasco da Gama left Calicut on 29 August 1498. Eager to set sail for home, he ignored the local knowledge of monsoon wind patterns which were still blowing onshore. The fleet initially inched north along the Indian coast, and then anchored in at Anjediva island for a spell. They finally struck out for their Indian Ocean crossing on 3 October 1498. But with the winter monsoon yet to set in, it was a harrowing journey. On the outgoing journey, sailing with the summer monsoon wind, it had taken Gama's fleet only 23 days to cross the Indian Ocean; now, on the return trip, sailing against the wind, it took 132 days. Vasco da Gama's fleet finally arrived in Malindi on 7 January 1499, in a terrible shape - approximately half of the crew had died during the crossing, and many of the rest were afflicted with scurvy. Not having enough crewmen left standing to manage three ships, Vasco da Gama ordered the São Rafael scuttled off the East African coast, and the crew re-distributed to the remaining two ships, the São Gabriel and the Berrio. Thereafter, the sailing was smoother. By early March, they had arrived in Mossel Bay, and crossed the Cape of Good Hope in the opposite direction on March 20. They reached the west African coast by April 25.

The diary record of the expedition ends abruptly here. Reconstructing from other sources, it seems they continued to Cape Verde, where Nicolau Coelho's Berrio separated from Vasco da Gama's São Gabriel, and sailed on by itself. The Berrio arrived in Lisbon on July 10, 1499 and Nicolau Coelho personally delivered the news to King Manuel I and the royal court, then assembled in Sintra. In the meantime, back in Cape Verde, Vasco's brother, Paulo da Gama had fallen grievously ill. Gama elected to stay by his side on Santiago island, and handed the São Gabriel over to his clerk, João de Sá, to take home. The S. Gabriel under Sá arrived in Lisbon sometime in late July or early August. Vasco da Gama and his sickly brother eventually hitched a ride with a Guinea caravel returning to Portugal, but Paulo da Gama died en route. Vasco da Gama got off at the Azores to bury his brother at the monastery of São Francisco in Angra do Heroismo, and lingered there for a little while in mourning. Vasco da Gama eventually took passage on an Azorean caravel and finally arrived in Lisbon on August 29, 1499 (according to Barros)., or early September (8th or 18th, according to other sources). Despite his melancholic mood, Vasco da Gama was given a hero's welcome, and showered with honors, including a triumphal procession and public festivities. King Manuel wrote two letters in which he described Vasco da Gama's first voyage, in July and August 1499, soon after the return of the ships. Girolamo Sernigi also wrote three letters describing the first voyage of Vasco da Gama soon after the return of the expedition.

The expedition had exacted a large cost - one ship and over half the men had been lost. It had also failed in its principal mission of securing a commercial treaty with Calicut. Nonetheless, the spices brought back on the remaining two ships were sold at an enormous profit to the crown. Vasco da Gama was justly celebrated for opening a direct sea route to Asia. His path would be followed up thereafter by yearly Portuguese India Armadas.

The spice trade would prove to be a major asset to the Portuguese royal treasury, and other consequences soon followed. For example, Gama's voyage had made it clear that the east coast of Africa, the Contra Costa, was essential to Portuguese interests; its ports provided fresh water, provisions, timber, and harbors for repairs, and served as a refuge where ships could wait out unfavorable weather. One significant result was the colonization of Mozambique by the Portuguese Crown.


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Vasco da Gama lands at Calicut, May 20, 1498.
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1730 Valparaíso earthquake

The 1730 Valparaíso earthquake occurred at 03:45 local time (08:45 UTC) on July 8. It had an estimated magnitude of 8.7 and triggered a major tsunami with an estimated magnitude of Mt=8.75, that inundated the lower parts of Valparaíso. The earthquake caused severe damage from La Serena to Chillan, while the tsunami affected more than 1,000 km (621.37 mi) of Chile's coastline.

The earthquake took place along the boundary between the Nazca and South American tectonic plates, at a location where they converge at a rate of seventy millimeters a year.

Chile has been at a convergent plate boundary that generates megathrust earthquakes since the Paleozoic (500 million years ago). In historical times the Chilean coast has suffered many megathrust earthquakes along this plate boundary, including the strongest earthquake ever measured. Most recently, the boundary ruptured in 2010 in central Chile.

The earthquake caused severe damage over a wide area, Valparaíso, Coquimbo, Illapel, Petorca and Tiltil were all affected. The parish church in La Serena was destroyed.

Only a few deaths were recorded due to the earthquake, reportedly because a strong foreshock had caused people to leave their homes. The same is also true for the following tsunami with the inhabitants running to higher ground after seeing the water recede, so that only a few were killed.

Earthquake
At about 01:00 local time in Santiago, there was a strong earthquake, followed by several smaller tremors. The main shock occurred at 4:45 local time.

A 350–550 km (341.75 mi) long rupture has been estimated for this event, from the extent of severe damage.

Tsunami
The tsunami occurred immediately after the mainshock, with a maximum run-up height recorded at Concepción of 16 m. It was also observed at Callao, Peru and in Honshu, Japan where fields were flooded in Rikuzen and the Oshika Peninsula.

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USS Jeannette (1878)

The first USS Jeannette was originally HMS Pandora, a Philomel-class gunvessel of the Royal Navy, and was purchased in 1875 by Sir Allen Young for his arctic voyages in 1875-1876. The ship was purchased in 1878 by James Gordon Bennett, Jr., owner of the New York Herald; and renamed Jeannette. Bennett was an Arctic enthusiast, and he obtained the cooperation and assistance of the government in fitting out an expedition to the North Pole through the Bering Strait

Jeannette departed San Francisco on 8 July 1879, the Secretary of the Navy having added to her original instructions the task of searching for the long-overdue Swedish polar expedition of Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld (whose ship Vega had successfully traversed the Northeast Passage). Jeannette pushed northward to Alaska's Norton Sound and sent her last communication to Washington before starting north from St. Lawrence Bay, Siberia on 27 August.

Under Lt. Cdr. DeLong's[2]direction the ship sailed across the Chukchi Sea and sighted Herald Island on 4 September. Soon afterward she was caught fast in the ice pack near Wrangel Island at 71°35′N 175°6′E.[3] For the next 21 months, Jeannette drifted to the northwest, ever-closer to DeLong's goal, the North Pole itself. He described in his journal the important scientific records kept by the party: "A full meteorological record is kept, soundings are taken, astronomical observations made and positions computed, dip and declination of the needle observed and recorded… everything we can do is done as faithfully, as strictly, as mathematically as if we were at the Pole itself, or the lives of millions depended on our adherence to routine." In May 1881, two islands were discovered and named Jeannette and Henrietta. In June, Bennett Island was discovered and claimed for the U.S. On the night of 12 June, the pressure of the ice finally began to crush Jeannette when they had reached 77°15′N 154°59′E. DeLong and his men unloaded provisions and equipment onto the ice pack and the ship sank the following morning.


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USS Jeannette
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Roswell, New Mexico

Roswell is a city in, and the county seat of, Chaves County in the southeastern quarter of the state of New Mexico, United States. The population was 48,366 at the 2010 census. It is a center for irrigation farming, dairying, ranching, manufacturing, distribution, and petroleum production. It is also the home of New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI), founded in 1891. Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is located a few miles northeast of the city on the Pecos River. Bottomless Lakes State Park is located twelve miles east of Roswell on US 380.

Roswell is most popularly known for having its name attached to what is now called the 1947 Roswell UFO incident, even though the crash site of the alleged UFO was some 75 miles from Roswell and closer to Corona. The investigation and debris recovery was handled by the local Roswell Army Air Field.

Roswell has benefited from interest in the alleged UFO incident of 1947. It was the report of an object that crashed in the general vicinity in June or July 1947, allegedly an extra-terrestrial spacecraft and its alien occupants. Since the late 1970s the incident has been the subject of intense controversy and of conspiracy theories as to the true nature of the object that crashed. The United States Armed Forces maintains that what was recovered was debris from an experimental high-altitude weather and surveillance balloon belonging to a classified program named "Mogul" however, many UFO proponents maintain that an alien craft was found and its occupants were captured, and that the military then engaged in a cover-up. In recent times, the business community has deliberately sought out tourists interested in UFOs, science fiction, and aliens.

In 2002, Roswell was named one of the All-American cities.


http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/c4/RoswellDailyRecordJuly8%2C1947.jpg
Roswell Daily Record, July 8, 1947, announcing the "capture" of a "flying saucer."
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STS-135

STS-135 (ISS assembly flight ULF7) was the final mission of the American Space Shuttle program. It used the orbiter Atlantis and hardware originally processed for the STS-335 contingency mission, which was not flown. STS-135 launched on 8 July 2011, and landed on 21 July 2011, following a one-day mission extension. The four-person crew was the smallest of any shuttle mission since STS-6 in April 1983. The mission's primary cargo was the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) Raffaello and a Lightweight Multi-Purpose Carrier (LMC). The flight of Raffaello marked the only time that Atlantis carried an MPLM.

Although the mission was authorized, it initially had no appropriation in the NASA budget, raising questions about whether the mission would fly. On 20 January 2011, program managers changed STS-335 to STS-135 on the flight manifest. This allowed for training and other mission specific preparations. On 13 February 2011, program managers told their workforce that STS-135 would fly regardless of the funding situation via a continuing resolution.[9] Until this point, there had been no official references to the STS-135 mission in NASA official documentation for the general public.

During an address at the Marshall Space Flight Center on 16 November 2010, NASA administrator Charles Bolden said that the agency needed to fly STS-135 to the station in 2011, due to possible delays in the development of commercial rockets and spacecraft designed to transport cargo to the ISS. "We are hoping to fly a third shuttle mission (in addition to STS-133 and STS-134) in June 2011, what everybody calls the launch-on-need mission...and that's really needed to the risk for the development time for commercial cargo," Bolden said.

The mission was included in NASA's 2011 authorization, which was signed into law on 11 October 2010, but funding remained dependent on a subsequent appropriation bill. United Space Alliance signed a contract extension for the mission, along with STS-134; the contract contained six one-month options with NASA in order to support continuing operations.

The U.S. federal budget approved in April 2011 called for $5.5 billion for NASA's space operations division, including the shuttle and space station programs. According to NASA, the budget running through 30 September 2011 ended all concerns about funding the STS-135 mission.


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STS-135
Mission insignia


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46n0uE9hT6A

Duke of Buckingham
07-09-12, 09:00 AM
Jul 9, 1877:
Wimbledon tournament begins

On July 9, 1877, the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club begins its first lawn tennis tournament at Wimbledon, then an outer-suburb of London. Twenty-one amateurs showed up to compete in the Gentlemen's Singles tournament, the only event at the first Wimbledon. The winner was to take home a 25-guinea trophy.

Tennis has its origins in a 13th-century French handball game called jeu de paume, or "game of the palm," from which developed an indoor racket-and-ball game called real, or "royal," tennis. Real tennis grew into lawn tennis, which was played outside on grass and enjoyed a surge of popularity in the late 19th century.

In 1868, the All England Club was established on four acres of meadowland outside London. The club was originally founded to promote croquet, another lawn sport, but the growing popularity of tennis led it to incorporate tennis lawns into its facilities. In 1877, the All England Club published an announcement in the weekly sporting magazine The Field that read: "The All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon, propose [sic] to hold a lawn tennis meeting open to all amateurs, on Monday, July 9, and following days. Entrance fee, one pound, one shilling."

The All English Club purchased a 25-guinea trophy and drew up formal rules for tennis. It decided on a rectangular court 78 feet long by 27 feet wide; adapted the real tennis method of scoring based on a clock face—i.e., 15, 30, 40, game; established that the first to win six games wins a set; and allowed the server one fault. These decisions, largely the work of club member Dr. Henry Jones, remain part of the modern rules.

Twenty-two men registered for the tournament, but only 21 showed up on July 9 for its first day. The 11 survivors were reduced to six the next day, and then to three. Semifinals were held on July 12, but then the tournament was suspended to leave the London sporting scene free for the Eton vs. Harrow cricket match played on Friday and Saturday. The final was scheduled for Monday, July 16, but, in what would become a common occurrence in future Wimbledon tournaments, the match was rained out.

It was rescheduled for July 19, and on that day some 200 spectators paid a shilling each to see William Marshall, a Cambridge tennis "Blue," battle W. Spencer Gore, an Old Harrovian racket player. In a final that lasted only 48 minutes, the 27-year-old Gore dominated with his strong volleying game, crushing Marshall, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4. At the second Wimbledon in 1878, however, Gore lost his title when his net-heavy game fell prey to a innovative stroke developed by challenger Frank Hadow: the lob.

In 1884, the Lady's Singles was introduced at Wimbledon, and Maud Watson won the first championship. That year, the national men's doubles championship was also played at Wimbledon for the first time after several years at Oxford. Mixed doubles and women's doubles were inaugurated in 1913. By the early 1900s, Wimbledon had graduated from all-England to all-world status, and in 1922 the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, as it was then known, moved to a large stadium on Church Road. In the 1950s, many tennis stars turned professional while Wimbledon struggled to remain an amateur tournament. However, in 1968 Wimbledon welcomed the pros and quickly regained its status as the world's top tennis tournament.

The Wimbledon Championships, the only major tennis event still played on grass, is held annually in late June and early July.
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Jul 9, 1960:
Khrushchev and Eisenhower trade threats over Cuba

President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev trade verbal threats over the future of Cuba. In the following years, Cuba became a dangerous focus in the Cold War competition between the United States and Russia.

In January 1959, Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro overthrew the long-time dictator Fulgencio Batista. Although the United States recognized the new Castro regime, many members of the Eisenhower administration harbored deep suspicions concerning the political orientation of the charismatic new Cuban leader. For his part, Castro was careful to avoid concretely defining his political beliefs during his first months in power. Castro's actions, however, soon convinced U.S. officials that he was moving to establish a communist regime in Cuba. Castro pushed through land reform that hit hard at U.S. investors, expelled the U.S. military missions to Cuba, and, in early 1960, announced that Cuba would trade its sugar to Russia in exchange for oil. In March 1960, Eisenhower gave the CIA the go-ahead to arm and train a group of Cuban refugees to overthrow the Castro regime. It was in this atmosphere that Eisenhower and Khrushchev engaged in some verbal sparring in July 1960.

Khrushchev fired the first shots during a speech in Moscow. He warned that the Soviet Union was prepared to use its missiles to protect Cuba from U.S. intervention. "One should not forget," the Soviet leader declared, "that now the United States is no longer at an unreachable distance from the Soviet Union as it was before." He charged that the United States was "plotting insidious and criminal steps" against Cuba. In a statement issued to the press, Eisenhower responded to Khrushchev's speech, warning that the United States would not countenance the "establishment of a regime dominated by international communism in the Western Hemisphere." The Soviet Premier's threat of retaliation demonstrated "the clear intention to establish Cuba in a role serving Soviet purposes in this hemisphere."

The relationship between the United States and Cuba deteriorated rapidly after the Eisenhower-Khrushchev exchange. The Castro regime accelerated its program of expropriating American-owned property. In response, the Eisenhower administration severed diplomatic relations with Cuba in January 1960. A little more than a year later, in April 1961, the CIA-trained force of Cuban refugees launched an assault on Cuba in the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion. The invaders were killed or captured, the Castro government cemented its control in Cuba, and the Soviet Union became Cuba's main source of economic and military assistance.
http://johnfenzel.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/khruschev_and_castro.jpg


Jul 9, 1918:
Trains collide outside Nashville

Two trains collide outside Nashville, Tennessee, killing 101 people, on this day in 1918. Despite the high death toll, the story was mainly ignored by the national press.

It was just after 7 a.m. when the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis line's Train No. 1 arrived at the Shops station. It was carrying a large contingent of workers heading for their jobs at the munitions plant in Harding, Tennessee, the next stop on the line. The train's engineer was supposed to wait for an express train to pass through the Shops station in the opposite direction before heading to Harding.

Instead, the engineer headed out after a freight train passed by, a terrible mistake. Train No. 1 had reached about 50 miles per hour when the express train appeared before it suddenly, traveling even faster. There was no time to brake. Both trains engines exploded on impact. The first two cars on each train were thrown forward and collapsed on each other. Everything and everyone in these cars were destroyed.

In addition to the 101 people killed, another 100 people were seriously injured. Despite the magnitude of the disaster, many newspapers across the country did not even cover the story, most likely because the vast majority of the casualties were African Americans.
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Jul 9, 1947:
First female army officer

In a ceremony held at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, General Dwight D. Eisenhower appoints Florence Blanchfield to be a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, making her the first woman in U.S. history to hold permanent military rank.

A member of the Army Nurse Corps since 1917, Blanchfield secured her commission following the passage of the Army-Navy Nurse Act of 1947 by Congress. Blanchfield had served as superintendent of the Army Nurse Corps during World War II and was instrumental in securing passage of the Army-Navy Nurse Act, which was advocated by Representative Frances Payne Bolton. In 1951, Blanchfield received the Florence Nightingale Award from the International Red Cross. In 1978, a U.S. Army hospital in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, was named in her honor.
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Jul 9, 1993:
Romanov remains identified

British forensic scientists announce that they have positively identified the remains of Russia's last czar, Nicholas II; his wife, Czarina Alexandra; and three of their daughters. The scientists used mitochondria DNA fingerprinting to identify the bones, which had been excavated from a mass grave near Yekaterinburg in 1991.

On the night of July 16, 1918, three centuries of the Romanov dynasty came to an end when Bolshevik troops executed Nicholas and his family. The details of the execution and the location of their final resting place remained a Soviet secret for more than six decades. Lacking physical evidence, rumors spread through Europe in the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution, telling of a Romanov child, usually the youngest daughter, Anastasia, who had survived the carnage. In the 1920s, there were several claimants to the title of Grand Duchess Anastasia. The most convincing was Anna Anderson, who turned up in Berlin in 1922 claiming to be Anastasia. In 1968, Anderson emigrated to Charlottesville, Virginia, where she died in 1984.

In 1991, Russian amateur investigators, using a recently released government report on the Romanov execution, found what they thought to be the Romanov burial site. Russian authorities exhumed human remains. Scientists studied the skulls, claiming that Anastasia's was among those found, but the Russian findings were not conclusive. To prove that the remains were indisputably those of the Romanovs, the Russians enlisted the aid of British DNA experts.

First, the scientists tested for gender and identified five females and four males among the remains. Next they tested to see how, if at all, these people were related. A father and mother were identified, along with three daughters. The four other remains were likely those of servants. The son Alexei and one daughter were missing.

To prove the identity of Alexandra and her children, the scientists took blood from Prince Philip, the consort of Queen Elizabeth II and the grand nephew of Alexandra. Because they all share a common maternal ancestor, they would all share mitochondria DNA, which is passed almost unchanged from mother to children. The comparison between the mtDNA in Philip's blood and in the remains was positive, proving them to be the Romanovs. To prove the czar's identity, who did not share this mtDNA, the remains of Grand Duke George, the brother of Nicholas, were exhumed. A comparison of their mtDNA proved their relationship.

The Crown Prince Alexei and one Romanov daughter were not accounted for, adding fuel to the persistent legend that Anastasia had survived execution. Was it possible that Anastasia had escaped and resurfaced as Anna Anderson? In 1994, American and English scientists attempted to answer this question once and for all. Using a tissue sample of Anderson's recovered from a Virginia hospital, the English team compared her mtDNA with that of the Romanovs. Simultaneously, an American team compared the mtDNA found in a strand of her hair. Both teams came to the same decisive conclusion: Anna Anderson was not a Romanov. In 1995, a Russian government commission studying the remains presented what it claimed was proof that one of the skeletons was in fact Anastasia's, and that the missing Romanov daughter was, in fact, Maria.
http://www.wired.com/images/article/full/2008/07/romanov_family_400px.jpg

invisy
07-09-12, 01:07 PM
Today in 1932 the “Prancing Horse” made its first appearance on one of Enzo Ferrari's cars.
960

Duke of Buckingham
07-10-12, 03:49 AM
A nice walpaper to invisy.
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_9NA3eH4VZzA/SwODcwQT7JI/AAAAAAAABiE/XJuFwqsIqnA/s1600/ferrari+logo+42.jpg

Jul 10, 1925:
Monkey Trial begins

In Dayton, Tennessee, the so-called "Monkey Trial" begins with John Thomas Scopes, a young high school science teacher, accused of teaching evolution in violation of a Tennessee state law.

The law, which had been passed in March, made it a misdemeanor punishable by fine to "teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals." With local businessman George Rappalyea, Scopes had conspired to get charged with this violation, and after his arrest the pair enlisted the aid of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to organize a defense. Hearing of this coordinated attack on Christian fundamentalism, William Jennings Bryan, the three-time Democratic presidential candidate and a fundamentalist hero, volunteered to assist the prosecution. Soon after, the great attorney Clarence Darrow agreed to join the ACLU in the defense, and the stage was set for one of the most famous trials in U.S. history.

On July 10, the Monkey Trial got underway, and within a few days hordes of spectators and reporters had descended on Dayton as preachers set up revival tents along the city's main street to keep the faithful stirred up. Inside the Rhea County Courthouse, the defense suffered early setbacks when Judge John Raulston ruled against their attempt to prove the law unconstitutional and then refused to end his practice of opening each day's proceeding with prayer.

Outside, Dayton took on a carnival-like atmosphere as an exhibit featuring two chimpanzees and a supposed "missing link" opened in town, and vendors sold Bibles, toy monkeys, hot dogs, and lemonade. The missing link was in fact Jo Viens of Burlington, Vermont, a 51-year-old man who was of short stature and possessed a receding forehead and a protruding jaw. One of the chimpanzees--named Joe Mendi--wore a plaid suit, a brown fedora, and white spats, and entertained Dayton's citizens by monkeying around on the courthouse lawn.

In the courtroom, Judge Raulston destroyed the defense's strategy by ruling that expert scientific testimony on evolution was inadmissible--on the grounds that it was Scopes who was on trial, not the law he had violated. The next day, Raulston ordered the trial moved to the courthouse lawn, fearing that the weight of the crowd inside was in danger of collapsing the floor.

In front of several thousand spectators in the open air, Darrow changed his tactics and as his sole witness called Bryan in an attempt to discredit his literal interpretation of the Bible. In a searching examination, Bryan was subjected to severe ridicule and forced to make ignorant and contradictory statements to the amusement of the crowd. On July 21, in his closing speech, Darrow asked the jury to return a verdict of guilty in order that the case might be appealed. Under Tennessee law, Bryan was thereby denied the opportunity to deliver the closing speech he had been preparing for weeks. After eight minutes of deliberation, the jury returned with a guilty verdict, and Raulston ordered Scopes to pay a fine of $100, the minimum the law allowed. Although Bryan had won the case, he had been publicly humiliated and his fundamentalist beliefs had been disgraced. Five days later, on July 26, he lay down for a Sunday afternoon nap and never woke up.

In 1927, the Tennessee Supreme Court overturned the Monkey Trial verdict on a technicality but left the constitutional issues unresolved until 1968, when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a similar Arkansas law on the grounds that it violated the First Amendment.
http://cr4.globalspec.com/PostImages/200707/USAscopesT2_B038E18D-A15B-B749-E99B9D11DC38610B.jpg


Jul 10, 1962:
U.S. Patent issued for three-point seatbelt

The United States Patent Office issues the Swedish engineer Nils Bohlin a patent for his three-point automobile safety belt "for use in vehicles, especially road vehicles" on this day in 1962.

Four years earlier, Sweden's Volvo Car Corporation had hired Bohlin, who had previously worked in the Swedish aviation industry, as the company's first chief safety engineer. At the time, safety-belt use in automobiles was limited mostly to race car drivers; the traditional two-point belt, which fastened in a buckle over the abdomen, had been known to cause severe internal injuries in the event of a high-speed crash. Bohlin designed his three-point system in less than a year, and Volvo introduced it on its cars in 1959. Consisting of two straps that joined at the hip level and fastened into a single anchor point, the three-point belt significantly reduced injuries by effectively holding both the upper and lower body and reducing the impact of the swift deceleration that occurred in a crash.

On August 17, 1959, Bohlin filed for a patent in the United States for his safety belt design. The U.S. Patent Office issued Patent No. 3,043,625 to "Nils Ivar Bohlin, Goteborg, Sweden, assignor to Aktiebolaget Volvo" on July 10, 1962. In the patent, Bohlin explained his invention: "The object... is to provide a safety belt which independently of the strength of the seat and its connection with the vehicle in an effective and physiologically favorable manner retains the upper as well as the lower part of the body of the strapped person against the action of substantially forwardly directed forces and which is easy to fasten and unfasten and even in other respects satisfies rigid requirements."

Volvo released the new seat belt design to other car manufacturers, and it quickly became standard worldwide. The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 made seat belts a required feature on all new American vehicles from the 1968 model year onward. Though engineers have improved on seat belt design over the years, the basic structure is still Bohlin's.

The use of seat belts has been estimated to reduce the risk of fatalities and serious injuries from collisions by about 50 percent. In 2008, an all-time high 83 percent of front-seat occupants in the United States buckled their seat belts.
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Jul 10, 1990:
Gorbachev re-elected as head of Communist Party

In a vindication of his sweeping economic and political reforms, Mikhail Gorbachev withstands severe criticisms from his opponents and is re-elected head of the Soviet Communist Party by an overwhelming margin. Gorbachev's victory was short-lived, however, as the Soviet Union collapsed in late 1991.

Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union in 1985 and immediately began to push forward with reforms in both Russia's domestic and foreign policies. On the domestic front, he argued for greater economic freedom and a gradual movement toward free market economics in certain fields. He also demanded more political freedom, and released a number of political prisoners. In his foreign policy, Gorbachev sought to thaw Cold War relations with the United States. He indicated his desire to work for substantive arms control measures, and began to curtail Soviet military and political involvement in nations such as Afghanistan and Angola. By 1990, many people celebrated Gorbachev as a savior for bringing true reform to the Soviet Union.

At home, however, Gorbachev was reviled by many Russian hard-liners that castigated him for weakening the hold of the Communist Party and for weakening its military power. During a Communist Party congress in July 1990, Gorbachev fired back at his critics. "There is no way to bring back the past, and no dictatorship--if someone still entertains this crazy idea--will solve anything," he declared. As for his domestic reforms, Gorbachev noted, "This is already a different society" that needed different policies. In response to the charge that he had been "soft" in dealing with anticommunist movements in Russia's eastern European allies, he shouted, "Well, do you want tanks again? Shall we teach them again how to live?" With Gorbachev's words ringing in their ears, the delegates to the congress re-elected him as head of the Soviet Communist Party.

Gorbachev's success, however, was extremely short-lived. While many applauded his reforms, by 1990 the Soviet Union was suffering from terrible economic problems, increasingly angry internal political squabbling, and a general feeling of uneasiness among the Russian people. In December 1991, with most of its eastern European allies already having overthrown their communist governments and with the Soviet republics seceding from the USSR, Gorbachev resigned as head of the Party and as president. With his action, the Soviet Union ceased to exist.
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Jul 10, 1887:
Dam collapses in Switzerland, kills 70

On this day in 1887, a dam breaks in Zug, Switzerland, killing 70 people in their homes and destroying a large section of the town.

The dam at Zug was 80 feet high and made of concrete. When the dam was built, concrete-making and setting techniques were not as advanced as they are today. The water pressure on the dam slowly eroded the concrete, finally causing it to collapse on July 10.

The resulting wall of water was so powerful that it picked up and washed away large farm animals. It uprooted trees and carried them downstream toward the town. Unsuspecting patrons at a cafe lost their lives when the roaring water and debris suddenly descended upon them. Rescue boats launched to assist people caught up in the sudden flood were ineffective, as some of those on the boats drowned when they capsized in the roiling waters.

One report claimed that a baby was found alive floating in a cradle, but this story cannot be confirmed.


Jul 10, 1992:
The Exxon Valdez captain's conviction is overturned

The Alaska court of appeals overturns the conviction of Joseph Hazelwood, the former captain of the oil tanker Exxon Valdez. Hazelwood, who was found guilty of negligence for his role in the massive oil spill in Prince William Sound in 1989, successfully argued that he was entitled to immunity from prosecution because he had reported the oil spill to authorities 20 minutes after the ship ran aground.

The Exxon Valdez accident on the Alaskan coast was one of the largest environmental disasters in American history and resulted in the deaths of 250,000 sea birds, thousands of sea otters and seals, hundreds of bald eagles and countless salmon and herring eggs. The ship, 1,000 feet long and carrying 1.3 million barrels of oil, ran aground on Bligh Reef on March 24, 1989, after failing to return to the shipping lanes, which it had maneuvered out of to avoid icebergs. It later came to light that several officers, including Captain Hazelwood, had been drinking at a bar the night the Exxon Valdez left port. However, there wasn't enough evidence to support the notion that alcohol impairment had been responsible for the oil spill. Rather, poor weather conditions and preparation, combined with several incompetent maneuvers by the men steering the tanker, were deemed responsible for the disaster. Captain Hazelwood, who had prior drunk driving arrests, had a spotless record as a tanker captain before the Valdez accident.

Exxon compounded the environmental problems caused by the spill by not beginning the cleanup effort right away. In 1991, a civil suit resulted in a billion-dollar judgment against them. However, years later, while their appeal remained backlogged in the court system, Exxon still hadn't paid the damages.

The Exxon Valdez was repaired and had a series of different owners before being bought by a Hong Kong-based company, which renamed it the Dong Fang Ocean. It once again made headlines in November 2010 when it collided with another cargo ship off of China.
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Jul 10, 1985:
The sinking of the Rainbow Warrior

In Auckland harbor in New Zealand, Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior sinks after French agents in diving gear plant a bomb on the hull of the vessel. One person, Dutch photographer Fernando Pereira, was killed. The Rainbow Warrior, the flagship of international conservation group Greenpeace, had been preparing for a protest voyage to a French nuclear test site in the South Pacific.

Two days after the incident, French authorities denied responsibility in the bombing and continued to do so even after New Zealand police arrested two French secret service agents in Auckland. Under pressure from New Zealand authorities, the French government formed an inquiry to investigate the incident and after several weeks concluded that the French agents were merely spying on Greenpeace. Later in the year, however, a British newspaper uncovered evidence of French President Francois Mitterrand's authorization of the bombing plan, leading to several top-level resignations in Mitterrand's cabinet and an admission by French Prime Minister Laurent Fabius that the agents had sunk the vessel under orders.

In Auckland, the two agents pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of manslaughter and willful damage and were each sentenced to 10 years in prison. Following negotiations with the French government, New Zealand released them a year later. In 1992, President Mitterrand ordered a halt to French nuclear testing, but in 1995 it was resumed, and Greenpeace sent The Rainbow Warrior II to French Polynesia to protest and disrupt the tests.
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Duke of Buckingham
07-11-12, 03:01 AM
Jul 11, 1804:
Burr slays Hamilton in duel

In a duel held in Weehawken, New Jersey, Vice President Aaron Burr fatally shoots his long-time political antagonist Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, a leading Federalist and the chief architect of America's political economy, died the following day.

Alexander Hamilton, born on the Caribbean island of Nevis, came to the American colonies in 1773 as a poor immigrant. (There is some controversy as to the year of his birth, but it was either 1755 or 1757.) In 1776, he joined the Continental Army in the American Revolution, and his relentless energy and remarkable intelligence brought him to the attention of General George Washington, who took him on as an aid. Ten years later, Hamilton served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, and he led the fight to win ratification of the final document, which created the kind of strong, centralized government that he favored. In 1789, he was appointed the first secretary of the treasury by President Washington, and during the next six years he crafted a sophisticated monetary policy that saved the young U.S. government from collapse. With the emergence of political parties, Hamilton was regarded as a leader of the Federalists.

Aaron Burr, born into a prestigious New Jersey family in 1756, was also intellectually gifted, and he graduated from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton) at the age of 17. He joined the Continental Army in 1775 and distinguished himself during the Patriot attack on Quebec. A masterful politician, he was elected to the New State Assembly in 1783 and later served as state attorney. In 1790, he defeated Alexander Hamilton's father-in-law in a race for the U.S. Senate.

Hamilton came to detest Burr, whom he regarded as a dangerous opportunist, and he often spoke ill of him. When Burr ran for the vice presidency in 1796 on Thomas Jefferson's Democratic-Republican ticket (the forerunner of the Democratic Party), Hamilton launched a series of public attacks against Burr, stating, "I feel it is a religious duty to oppose his career." John Adams won the presidency, and in 1797 Burr left the Senate and returned to the New York Assembly.

In 1800, Jefferson chose Burr again as his running mate. Burr aided the Democratic-Republican ticket by publishing a confidential document that Hamilton had written criticizing his fellow Federalist President John Adams. This caused a rift in the Federalists and helped Jefferson and Burr win the election with 73 electoral votes each.

Under the electoral procedure then prevailing, president and vice president were not voted for separately; the candidate who received the most votes was elected president, and the second in line, vice president. The vote then went to the House of Representatives. What at first seemed but an electoral technicality--handing Jefferson victory over his running mate--developed into a major constitutional crisis when Federalists in the lame-duck Congress threw their support behind Burr. After a remarkable 35 tie votes, a small group of Federalists changed sides and voted in Jefferson's favor. Alexander Hamilton, who had supported Jefferson as the lesser of two evils, was instrumental in breaking the deadlock.

Burr became vice president, but Jefferson grew apart from him, and he did not support Burr's renomination to a second term in 1804. That year, a faction of New York Federalists, who had found their fortunes drastically diminished after the ascendance of Jefferson, sought to enlist the disgruntled Burr into their party and elect him governor. Hamilton campaigned against Burr with great fervor, and Burr lost the Federalist nomination and then, running as an independent for governor, the election. In the campaign, Burr's character was savagely attacked by Hamilton and others, and after the election he resolved to restore his reputation by challenging Hamilton to a duel, or an "affair of honor," as they were known.

Affairs of honor were commonplace in America at the time, and the complex rules governing them usually led to an honorable resolution before any actual firing of weapons. In fact, the outspoken Hamilton had been involved in several affairs of honor in his life, and he had resolved most of them peaceably. No such recourse was found with Burr, however, and on July 11, 1804, the enemies met at 7 a.m. at the dueling grounds near Weehawken, New Jersey. It was the same spot where Hamilton's son had died defending his father's honor two years before.

There are conflicting accounts of what happened next. According to Hamilton's "second"--his assistant and witness in the duel--Hamilton decided the duel was morally wrong and deliberately fired into the air. Burr's second claimed that Hamilton fired at Burr and missed. What happened next is agreed upon: Burr shot Hamilton in the stomach, and the bullet lodged next to his spine. Hamilton was taken back to New York, and he died the next afternoon.

Few affairs of honor actually resulted in deaths, and the nation was outraged by the killing of a man as eminent as Alexander Hamilton. Charged with murder in New York and New Jersey, Burr, still vice president, returned to Washington, D.C., where he finished his term immune from prosecution.

In 1805, Burr, thoroughly discredited, concocted a plot with James Wilkinson, commander-in-chief of the U.S. Army, to seize the Louisiana Territory and establish an independent empire, which Burr, presumably, would lead. He contacted the British government and unsuccessfully pleaded for assistance in the scheme. Later, when border trouble with Spanish Mexico heated up, Burr and Wilkinson conspired to seize territory in Spanish America for the same purpose.

In the fall of 1806, Burr led a group of well-armed colonists toward New Orleans, prompting an immediate U.S. investigation. General Wilkinson, in an effort to save himself, turned against Burr and sent dispatches to Washington accusing Burr of treason. In February 1807, Burr was arrested in Louisiana for treason and sent to Virginia to be tried in a U.S. court. In September, he was acquitted on a technicality. Nevertheless, public opinion condemned him as a traitor, and he fled to Europe. He later returned to private life in New York, the murder charges against him forgotten. He died in 1836.
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Jul 11, 1916:
President Woodrow Wilson signs Federal Aid Road Act

On this day in 1916, in a ceremony at the White House, President Woodrow Wilson signs the Federal Aid Road Act. The law established a national policy of federal aid for highways.

From the mid-19th century, the building and maintenance of roads had been seen as a state and local responsibility. As a result, America's roads were generally in poor condition, especially in rural areas. As the so-called Progressive Era dawned near the turn of the 20th century, attitudes began to change, and people began to look towards government to provide better roads, among other infrastructure improvements. The first federal aid bill was submitted to Congress in 1902, proposing the creation of a Bureau of Public Roads. With the rise of the automobile--especially after Henry Ford introduced the affordable Model T in 1908, putting more Americans on the road than ever before--Congress was pushed to go even further.

In the 1907 case Wilson v. Shaw, the U.S. Supreme Court officially gave Congress the power "to construct interstate highways" under its constitutional right to regulate interstate commerce. In 1912, Congress enacted the Post Office Department Appropriations Bill, which set aside $500,000 for an experimental program to improve the nation's post roads (roads over which mail is carried). The program proved too small to make significant improvements, but it taught Congress that federal aid for roads needed to go to the states instead of local counties in order to be effective.

Serious consideration of a federal road program began in early 1916. There were two competing interest groups at stake: Farmers wanted sturdy, all-weather post roads to transport their goods, and urban motorists wanted paved long-distance highways. The bill that both houses of Congress eventually approved on June 27, 1916, and that Wilson signed into law that July 11, leaned in the favor of the rural populations by appropriating $75 million for the improvement of post roads. It included the stipulation that all states have a highway agency staffed by professional engineers who would administer the federal funds and ensure that all roads were constructed properly.

In addition to enabling rural Americans to participate more efficiently in the national economy, the Federal Aid Road Act was a precursor to the Federal Highway Act of 1921, which provided federal aid to the states for the building of an interconnected interstate highway system. The interstate highway issue would not be fully addressed until much later, when the Federal Highway Act of 1956 allocated more than $30 billion for the construction of some 41,000 miles of interstate highways.
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Jul 11, 1945:
Soviets agree to hand over power in West Berlin

Fulfilling agreements reached at various wartime conferences, the Soviet Union promises to hand power over to British and U.S. forces in West Berlin. Although the division of Berlin (and of Germany as a whole) into zones of occupation was seen as a temporary postwar expedient, the dividing lines quickly became permanent. The divided city of Berlin became a symbol for Cold War tensions.

During a number of wartime conferences, the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union agreed that following the defeat of Germany, that nation would be divided into three zones of occupation. Berlin, the capital city of Germany, would likewise be divided. When the war in Europe ended in May 1945, however, Soviet troops were in complete control of eastern Germany and all of Berlin. Some U.S. officials, who had come to see the Soviet Union as an emerging threat to the postwar peace in Europe, believed that the Soviets would never relinquish control over any part of Berlin. However, on July 11, 1945, the Russian government announced that it would hand over all civilian and military control of West Berlin to British and American forces. This was accomplished, without incident, the following day. (The United States and Great Britain would later give up part of their zones of occupation in Germany and Berlin to make room for a French zone of occupation.)

In the years to come, West Berlin became the site of some notable Cold War confrontations. During 1948 and 1949, the Soviets blocked all land travel into West Berlin, forcing the United States to establish the Berlin Airlift to feed and care for the population of the city. In 1961, the government of East Germany constructed the famous Berlin Wall, creating an actual physical barrier to separate East and West Berlin. The divided city came to symbolize the animosities and tensions of the Cold War. In 1989, with communist control of East Germany crumbling, the Berlin Wall was finally torn down. The following year, East and West Germany formally reunited.
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Jul 11, 1978:
Gas fire incinerates crowded campsite

On this day in 1978, a truck carrying liquid gas crashes into a campsite, crowded with vacationers, in San Carlos de la Rapita, Spain. The resulting explosion killed more than 200 people; many others suffered severe burns.

Shortly after 3 p.m. on a hot day on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, a 38-ton truck carrying propylene gas, used in the manufacture of alcohol, was traveling on a small, winding road 120 miles south of Barcelona. The truck, owned by Cisternas Reunidas, may have been on this coastal road instead of the nearby turnpike in order to avoid paying a toll. For unknown reasons, the truck crashed into a cement wall. (Some witnesses report seeing a fire on the truck before the crash.)

Down a hill from the cement wall, 800 people, mostly families on vacation from Germany and France, were camped out near the beach in tents and makeshift bungalows. The truck, carrying 1,500 cubic feet of pressurized liquid gas, plunged down the hill and exploded in a massive fireball. Flames shot up 100 feet into the air, killing many people instantly. The resulting crater was 20 yards in diameter. The huge fire and explosion also caused the camper's portable gas units and cars to blow up. Few of the survivors were wearing any protective clothing other than a bathing suit and many of them suffered horrible burns.

The timing of the disaster also contributed to the high casualty toll. Coming just after lunch, many people had not yet returned to the nearby beach. In all, 215 people lost their lives. So many German citizens were involved that German officials arranged for an airlift of doctors and equipment from Stuttgart to assist in the relief effort.
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Jul 11, 1979:
Skylab crashes to Earth

Parts of Skylab, America's first space station, come crashing down on Australia and into the Indian Ocean five years after the last manned Skylab mission ended. No one was injured.

Launched in 1973, Skylab was the world's first successful space station. The first manned Skylab mission came two years after the Soviet Union launched Salynut 1, the world's first space station, into orbit around the earth. However, unlike the ill-fated Salynut, which was plagued with problems, the American space station was a great success, safely housing three separate three-man crews for extended periods of time.

Originally the spent third stage of a Saturn 5 moon rocket, the cylindrical space station was 118 feet tall, weighed 77 tons, and carried the most varied assortment of experimental equipment ever assembled in a single spacecraft to that date. The crews of Skylab spent more than 700 hours observing the sun and brought home more than 175,000 solar pictures. They also provided important information about the biological effects of living in space for prolonged periods of time.

Five years after the last Skylab mission, the space station's orbit began to deteriorate--earlier than was anticipated--because of unexpectedly high sunspot activity. On July 11, 1979, Skylab made a spectacular return to earth, breaking up in the atmosphere and showering burning debris over the Indian Ocean and Australia.
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Jul 11, 1922:
Hollywood Bowl opens

On this day in 1922, the Hollywood Bowl, one of the world’s largest natural amphitheaters, opens with a performance by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Since that time, a long, diverse list of performers, including The Beatles, Luciano Pavarotti and Judy Garland, have appeared on stage at the Hollywood Bowl. The venue has become a famous Los Angeles landmark and has been featured in numerous movies.

As the official summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Hollywood Bowl has hosted such famous conductors as Arthur Rubinstein, Itzhak Perlman and Vladimir Horowitz, along with opera singers Jessye Norman, Beverly Sills and Placido Domingo. Dancers from Fred Astaire to Mikhail Baryshnikov have graced the stage, as have entertainers including Abbott and Costello, Al Jolson, Billie Holiday, Garth Brooks and Elton John.

When the Hollywood Bowl opened, its stage was a wooden platform with a canvas top and audiences sat on moveable benches set on the hillsides of the surrounding canyon. In 1926, a group of Los Angeles architects built the Hollywood Bowl’s first shell. Since that time, various architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright’s son, Lloyd Wright, and Frank Gehry, have made improvements to the venue’s structure and acoustics. Today, the Hollywood Bowl seats nearly 18,000. Its paid attendance record of 26,410 was set in August 1936 for a performance by French opera star Lily Pons.

As a Los Angeles icon, the Hollywood Bowl has been featured in a number of films, including A Star is Born (1937) and Beaches (1988). In one particularly memorable appearance, in the film, Olly Olly Oxen Free (1978), according to the Bowl’s official Web site, Hollywoodbowl.com: “Katharine Hepburn, having refused a stunt double, lands a hot-air balloon herself in front of the Hollywood Bowl stage during a performance of the 1812 Overture.”
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Jul 11, 1966:
Public opinion approves bombing of North Vietnam

A Harris survey taken shortly after the bombing raids on the Hanoi-Haiphong area shows that 62 percent of those interviewed favored the raids, 11 percent were opposed, and 27 percent were undecided. Of those polled, 86 percent felt the raids would hasten the end of the war. The raids under discussion were part of the expansion of Operation Rolling Thunder, which had begun in March 1965.
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Duke of Buckingham
07-12-12, 03:49 AM
Jul 12, 1984:
Ferraro named vice presidential candidate

Walter Mondale, the leading Democratic presidential candidate, announces that he has chosen Representative Geraldine Ferraro of New York as his running mate. Ferraro, a daughter of Italian immigrants, had previously gained notoriety as a vocal advocate of women's rights in Congress.

Four days after Ferraro was named vice presidential candidate, Governor Mario Cuomo of New York opened the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco with an impassioned retort to Republican President Ronald Reagan's contention that the United States was a "shining city on a hill." Citing widespread poverty and racial strife, Cuomo derided President Reagan as oblivious to the needs and problems of many of America's citizens. His enthusiastic keynote address inaugurated a convention that saw Ferraro become the first woman nominated by a major party for the vice presidency. However, Mondale, the former U.S. vice president under Jimmy Carter, proved a lackluster choice for the Democratic presidential nominee.

On November 6, President Reagan and Vice President George Bush defeated the Mondale-Ferraro ticket in the greatest Republican landslide in U.S. history. The Republicans carried every state but Minnesota--Mondale's home state.

Ferraro left Congress in 1985. In 1992 and 1998, she made unsuccessful bids for a U.S. Senate seat. During President Bill Clinton's administration, she was a permanent member on the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
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Jul 12, 1933:
First Dymaxion car produced

The first three-wheeled, multi-directional Dymaxion car--designed by the architect, engineer and philosopher Buckminster Fuller--is manufactured in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on this day in 1933.

Born in Massachusetts in 1895, Fuller set out to live his life as (in his own words) "an experiment to find what a single individual can contribute to changing the world and benefiting all humanity." After making up the world "Dymaxion" as a combination of the words "dynamic," "maximum" and "ion," he took the word as his own personal brand. Among his groundbreaking creations were the geodesic dome and the Dymaxion house, which was made of lightweight aluminum and could be shipped by air and assembled on site.

In 1927, Fuller first sketched the Dymaxion car under the name "4D transport." Part aircraft, part automobile, it had wings that inflated. Five years later, Fuller asked his friend, the sculptor Isamu Noguchi, to make more sketches of the car. The result was an elongated teardrop design, with a rear third wheel that lifted off the ground and a tail fin. Fuller set up production of the Dymaxion car in a former Locomobile factory in Bridgeport in March 1933. The first model rolled out of the Bridgeport factory on July 12, 1933--Fuller's 38th birthday. It had a steel chassis (or frame) and a body made of ash wood, covered with an aluminum skin and topped with a painted canvas roof. It was designed to be able to reach a speed of 120 miles per hour and average 28 miles per gallon of gasoline.

Sold to Gulf Oil, the Dymaxion car went on display at the Century of Progress exposition in Chicago. That October, however, the professional driver Francis Turner was killed after the Dymaxion car turned over during a demonstration. An investigation cleared Dymaxion of responsibility, but investors became scarce, despite the enthusiasm of the press and of celebrities such as the novelist H.G. Wells and the painter Diego Rivera.

Along with the Nazi-built KdF-wagen (the forerunner of the Volkswagen Beetle), the Dymaxion was one of several futuristic, rear-engined cars developed during the 1930s. Though it was never mass-produced, the Dymaxion helped lead to public acceptance of new streamlined passenger cars, such as the 1936 Lincoln Zephyr. In 2008, the only surviving Dymaxion was featured in an exhibit dedicated to Fuller's work at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. An article published in The New York Times about the exhibit recalled Fuller's own impressions of the Dymaxion: "I knew everyone would call it a car," he told the literary critic Hugh Kenner in the 1960s; instead, it was actually "the land-taxiing phase of a wingless, twin orientable jet stilts flying device."
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Jul 12, 1990:
Yeltsin resigns from Communist Party

Just two days after Mikhail Gorbachev was re-elected head of the Soviet Communist Party, Boris Yeltsin, president of the Republic of Russia, announces his resignation from the Party. Yeltsin's action was a serious blow to Gorbachev's efforts to keep the struggling Soviet Union together.

In July 1990, Soviet Communist Party leaders met in a congress for debate and elections. Gorbachev, who had risen to power in the Soviet Union in 1985, came under severe attack from Communist Party hard-liners. They believed that his political and economic reforms were destroying the Party's control of the nation. Gorbachev fired back at his critics during a speech in which he defended his reforms and attacked the naysayers as backward-looking relics from the dark past of the Soviet Union. He was rewarded with an overwhelming vote in favor of his re-election as head of the Communist Party. Just two days after that vote, however, Yeltsin shattered the illusion that Gorbachev's victory meant an end to political infighting in the Soviet Union. Yeltsin had been a consistent critic of Gorbachev, but his criticisms stemmed from a belief that Gorbachev was moving too slowly in democratizing the Soviet political system. Yeltsin's dramatic announcement of his resignation from the Communist Party was a clear indication that he was demanding a multiparty political system in the Soviet Union. It was viewed as a slap in the face to Gorbachev and his policies.

During the next year and a half, Gorbachev's power gradually waned, while Yeltsin's star rose. In December 1991, Gorbachev resigned as president of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Union officially dissolved. Yeltsin, however, retained his position of power as president of Russia. In their own particular ways, both men had overseen the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.

Yeltsin remained president of Russia until December 31, 1999, when he resigned. Despite his attempts at economic reform, his tenure in office saw the country's economy falter badly, including a near-complete collapse of its currency. His administration was also marked by rampant corruption, an invasion of Chechnya and a series of bizarre incidents involving Yeltsin that were reputedly a result of his alcoholism. Yeltsin's opponents twice tried to impeach him. With his resignation, Prime Minsiter Vladimir Putin became acting president until new elections could be held. On March 26, 2000, Putin became Russia's new president.
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Jul 12, 1861:
Wild Bill Hickok's first gunfight

Wild Bill Hickok begins to establish his reputation as a gunfighter after he coolly shoots three men during a shootout in Nebraska.

Born in Homer (later called Troy Grove), Illinois, James Butler Hickok moved to Kansas in 1855 at the age of 18. There he filed a homestead claim, took odd jobs, and began calling himself by his father's name, Bill. A skilled marksman, Hickok honed his abilities as a gunslinger. Though Hickok was not looking for trouble, he liked to be ready to defend himself, and his ability with a pistol soon proved useful.

By the summer of 1861, Hickok was working as a stock tender at a stage depot in Nebraska called Rock Creek Station. Across the creek lived Dave McCanles, a mean-spirited man who disliked Hickok for some reason. McCanles enjoyed insulting the young stockman, calling him Duck Bill and claiming he was a hermaphrodite. Hickok took his revenge by secretly romancing McCanles' mistress, Sarah Shull.

On this day in 1861, the tension between Hickok and McCanles came to a head. McCanles may have learned about the affair between Shull and Hickok, though his motivations are not clear. He arrived at the station with two other men and his 12-year-old-son and exchanged angry words with the station manager. Then McCanles spotted Hickok standing behind a curtain partition. He threatened to drag "Duck Bill" outside and give him a thrashing. Demonstrating remarkable coolness for a 24-year-old who had never been involved in a gunfight, Hickok replied, "There will be one less son-of-a-bitch when you try that."

McCanles ignored the warning. When he approached the curtain, Hickok shot him in the chest. McCanles staggered out of the building and died in the arms of his son. Hearing the shots, the two other gunmen ran in. Hickok shot one of them twice and winged the other. The other workers at the station finished them off.

The story of Hickok's first gunfight spread quickly, establishing his reputation as a skilled gunman. In 1867, Harper's New Monthly Magazine published a highly exaggerated account of the shoot-out which claimed Hickok had single-handedly killed nine men. The article quoted Hickok as saying, "I was wild and I struck savage blows." Thus began the legendary career of "Wild Bill."

For the next 15 years, Hickok would further embellish his reputation with genuine acts of daring, though the popular accounts continued to exceed the reality. He died in 1876 at the age of 39, shot in the back of the head by a young would-be gunfighter looking for fame.
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Jul 12, 1995:
Heat wave hits Chicagoland

On this day in 1995, a heat advisory is issued in Chicago, Illinois, warning of an impending record-breaking heat wave. By the time the heat breaks a week later, nearly 1,000 people are dead in Illinois and Wisconsin.

On July 13, the temperature in the city hit 106 degrees Fahrenheit and the heat index, which combines temperature with humidity for an estimate of how hot it feels, was above 120 F. During the week, the daytime temperature never went below the mid-90s and even the nighttime temperature stayed in the mid-80s. The use of air conditioning by those who had it caused records to be set for energy use and, subsequently, some power failures. People opened so many hydrants to cool themselves off in the streets that water pressure in several communities was lost. Attempts to close the hydrants were often met with violent resistance. When the heat warped train rails and made them unusable, commuting delays became common.

The young and the old were the most vulnerable to the heat. Hundreds of children were hospitalized from heat ailments. By July 14, paramedics and area hospitals were overwhelmed and unable to keep up with the continuing emergency. Soon, the corpses began to pile up. At the Chicago morgue, 17 bodies were usually handled per day. But just midway through the heat wave, there was a backlog of hundreds of bodies. Refrigerated trucks had to be brought in to hold the excess.

Most of those who died were older men who lived alone, despite the fact that senior women outnumbered senior men in the area. Researchers believe that strength of social connections to the community, which can be greater with women, was the most important factor in determining who became a victim of the heat wave.

Without any explicit criteria about how to identify a death due to heat, it was difficult to accurately count the deaths from the disaster. However, about 740 more people died in Chicago during the heat wave than in a normal week. Cook County's chief medical examiner, Edmund Donoghue, estimated that there were 465 heat-related deaths in the city. Mayor Richard Daley questioned this number, but may have been trying to downplay the toll to avoid criticism of the city's poor preparations for the heat. In fact, it was several days into the heat wave before the city implemented its heat-emergency plan.

Four years later, when another heat wave hit the city, better preparation and a more rapid response limited the deaths to just over 100.
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Jul 12, 1862:
Medal of Honor created

President Abraham Lincoln signs into law a measure calling for the awarding of a U.S. Army Medal of Honor, in the name of Congress, "to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier-like qualities during the present insurrection." The previous December, Lincoln had approved a provision creating a U.S. Navy Medal of Valor, which was the basis of the Army Medal of Honor created by Congress in July 1862. The first U.S. Army soldiers to receive what would become the nation's highest military honor were six members of a Union raiding party who in 1862 penetrated deep into Confederate territory to destroy bridges and railroad tracks between Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Atlanta, Georgia.

In 1863, the Medal of Honor was made a permanent military decoration available to all members, including commissioned officers, of the U.S. military. It is conferred upon those who have distinguished themselves in actual combat at risk of life beyond the call of duty. Since its creation, during the Civil War, almost 3,400 men and one woman have received the Medal of Honor for heroic actions in U.S. military conflict.
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Jul 12, 1861:
Confederacy signs treaties with Native Americans

Special commissioner Albert Pike completes treaties with the members of the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes, giving the new Confederate States of America several allies in Indian Territory. Some members of the tribes also fought for the Confederacy.

A Boston native, Pike went west in 1831 and traveled with fur trappers and traders. He settled in Arkansas and became a noted poet, author, and teacher. He bought a plantation and operated a newspaper, the Arkansas Advocate. By 1837 he was practicing law and often represented Native Americans in disputes with the federal government.

Pike was opposed to secession but nonetheless sided with his adopted state when it left the Union. As ambassador to the Indians, he was a fortunate addition to the Confederacy, which was seeking to form alliances with the tribes of Indian Territory. Besides the agreements with the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes, Pike also engineered treaties with the Creek, Seminole, Comanche, and Caddos, among others.

Ironically, many of these tribes had been expelled from the Southern states in the 1830s and 1840s but still chose to ally themselves with those states during the war. The grudges they held against the Confederate states were offset by their animosity toward the federal government. Native Americans were also bothered by Republican rhetoric during the 1860 election. Some of Abraham Lincoln's supporters, such as William Seward, argued that the land of the tribes in Indian Territory should be appropriated for distribution to white settlers. When the war began in 1861, Secretary of War Simon Cameron ordered all posts in Indian Territory abandoned to free up military resources for use against the Confederacy, leaving the area open to invasion by the Confederates.

By signing these treaties, the tribes severed their relationships with the federal government, much in the way the southern states did by seceding from the Union. They were accepted into the Confederates States of America, and they sent representatives to the Confederate Congress. The Confederate government promised to protect the Native American's land holdings and to fulfill the obligations such as annuity payments made by the federal government.

Some of these tribes even sent troops to serve in the Confederate army, and one Cherokee, Stand Watie, rose to the rank of brigadier general.
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Duke of Buckingham
07-13-12, 04:56 AM
Jul 13, 1985:
Live Aid concert



On July 13, 1985, at Wembley Stadium in London, Prince Charles and Princess Diana officially open Live Aid, a worldwide rock concert organized to raise money for the relief of famine-stricken Africans. Continued at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia and at other arenas around the world, the 16-hour "superconcert" was globally linked by satellite to more than a billion viewers in 110 nations. In a triumph of technology and good will, the event raised more than $125 million in famine relief for Africa.

Live Aid was the brainchild of Bob Geldof, the singer of an Irish rock group called the Boomtown Rats. In 1984, Geldof traveled to Ethiopia after hearing news reports of a horrific famine that had killed hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians and threatened to kill millions more. After returning to London, he called Britain's and Ireland's top pop artists together to record a single to benefit Ethiopian famine relief. "Do They Know It's Christmas?" was written by Geldof and Ultravox singer Midge Ure and performed by "Band Aid," an ensemble that featured Culture Club, Duran Duran, Phil Collins, U2, Wham!, and others. It was the best-selling single in Britain to that date and raised more than $10 million.

"Do They Know It's Christmas?" was also a No. 1 hit in the United States and inspired U.S. pop artists to come together and perform "We Are the World," a song written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie. "USA for Africa," as the U.S. ensemble was known, featured Jackson, Ritchie, Geldof, Harry Belafonte, Bob Dylan, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder, and many others. The single went to the top of the charts and eventually raised $44 million.

With the crisis continuing in Ethiopia, and the neighboring Sudan also stricken with famine, Geldof proposed Live Aid, an ambitious global charity concert aimed at raising more funds and increasing awareness of the plight of many Africans. Organized in just 10 weeks, Live Aid was staged on Saturday, July 13, 1985. More than 75 acts performed, including Elton John, Madonna, Santana, Run DMC, Sade, Sting, Bryan Adams, the Beach Boys, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Queen, Duran Duran, U2, the Who, Tom Petty, Neil Young, and Eric Clapton. The majority of these artists performed at either Wembley Stadium in London, where a crowd of 70,000 turned out, or at Philadelphia's JFK Stadium, where 100,000 watched. Thirteen satellites beamed a live television broadcast of the event to more than one billion viewers in 110 countries. More than 40 of these nations held telethons for African famine relief during the broadcast.

A memorable moment of the concert was Phil Collins' performance in Philadelphia after flying by Concorde from London, where he performed at Wembley earlier in the day. He later played drums in a reunion of the surviving members of Led Zeppelin. Beatle Paul McCartney and the Who's Pete Townsend held Bob Geldof aloft on their shoulders during the London finale, which featured a collective performance of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Six hours later, the U.S. concert ended with "We Are the World."

Live Aid eventually raised $127 million in famine relief for African nations, and the publicity it generated encouraged Western nations to make available enough surplus grain to end the immediate hunger crisis in Africa. Geldof was later knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his efforts.

In early July 2005, Geldof staged a series of "Live 8" concerts in 11 countries around the world to help raise awareness of global poverty. Organizers, led by Geldof, purposely scheduled the concert days before the annual G8 summit in an effort to increase political pressure on G8 nations to address issues facing the extremely poor around the world. Live 8 claims that an estimated 3 billion people watched 1,000 musicians perform in 11 shows, which were broadcast on 182 television networks and by 2,000 radio stations. Unlike Live Aid, Live 8 was intentionally not billed as a fundraiser--Geldof's slogan was, "We don't want your money, we want your voice." Perhaps in part because of the spotlight brought to such issues by Live 8, the G8 subsequently voted to cancel the debt of 18 of the world's poorest nations, make AIDS drugs more accessible, and double levels of annual aid to Africa, to $50 billion by 2010.
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Jul 13, 1978:
Henry Ford II fires Lee Iacocca

On this day in 1978, Ford Motor Company chairman Henry Ford II fires Lee Iacocca as Ford's president, ending years of tension between the two men.

Born to an immigrant family in Pennsylvania in 1924, Iacocca was hired by Ford as an engineer in 1946 but soon switched to sales, at which he clearly excelled. By 1960, Iaccoca had become a vice president and general manager of the Ford division, the company's largest marketing arm. He successfully championed the design and development of the sporty, affordable Ford Mustang, an achievement that landed him on the covers of Time and Newsweek magazines in the same week in 1964.

In December 1970, Henry Ford II named Iacocca president of Ford, but his brash, unorthodox style soon brought him into conflict with his boss. According to Douglas Brinkley's history of Ford "Wheels for the World," Henry authorized $1.5 million in company funds for an investigation of Iacocca's business and private life in 1975. Suffering from a heart condition and aware that the time for his retirement was approaching, Ford made it clear that he eventually wanted to turn the company over to his son Edsel, then just 28. In early 1978, Iacocca was told he would report to another Ford executive, Philip Caldwell, who was named deputy chief executive officer. In his increasingly public struggle with Ford, Iacocca made an attempt to find support among the company's board of directors, giving Ford the excuse he needed to fire him. As Iacocca later wrote in his bestselling autobiography, Ford called Iacocca into his office shortly before 3 pm on July 13, 1978 and let him go, telling him "Sometimes you just don't like somebody."

News of the firing shocked the industry, but it turned into a boon for Iacocca. The following year, he was hired as president of the Chrysler Corporation, which at the time was facing bankruptcy. Iacocca went to the federal government for aid, banking on his belief that the government would not let Chrysler fail for fear of weakening an already slumping economy. The gamble paid off, with Congress agreeing to bail out Chrysler to the tune of $1.5 billion. Iacocca streamlined the company's operations, focused on producing more fuel-efficient cars and pursued an aggressive marketing strategy based on his own powerful personality. After showing a small profit in 1981, Chrysler posted record profits of more than $2.4 billion in 1984. By then a national celebrity, Iacocca retired as chief executive of Chrysler in 1992.
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Jul 13, 1948:
Democratic Party platform defends Roosevelt-Truman foreign policies



As the 1948 presidential campaign begins to heat up, the Democratic Party hammers out a platform that contains a stirring defense of the foreign policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and President Harry S. Truman. The tone of the platform indicated that foreign policy, and particularly the nation's Cold War policies, would be a significant part of the 1948 campaign.

Throughout 1948, President Truman had been put on the defensive by Republican critics who suggested that former President Roosevelt had been too "soft" in dealing with the Soviet Union during World War II. The Republicans also criticized Truman's Cold War policies, calling them ineffective and too costly. By the time the Democratic Party met to nominate Truman for re-election and construct its platform, Truman was already an underdog to the certain Republican nominee, Governor Thomas E. Dewey. The foreign policy parts of the Democratic platform, announced on July 13, 1948, indicated that Truman was going to fight fire with fire. The platform strongly suggested that the Democratic administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt was primarily responsible for America's victory in World War II, and was entirely responsible for establishing the United Nations. After World War II, the document continued, Truman and the Democrats in Congress had rallied the nation to meet the communist threat. The Truman Doctrine, by which Greece and Turkey were saved from communist takeovers, and the Marshall Plan, which rescued Western Europe from postwar chaos, were the most notable results of the Democrats' foreign policy.

Some of Truman's advisers had cautioned him to take a more conciliatory stance on foreign policy issues in the platform, emphasizing the bipartisan nature of U.S. foreign policy since World War II. The pugnacious Truman would have none of that. He was proud of his record of "facing up to the Russians," and decided to rise or fall in the 1948 election based on his accomplishments both at home and abroad. Events proved Truman wise in his approach. Despite the fact that nearly every newspaper and polling organization in the United States picked Dewey to triumph, Truman squeaked by in 1948 in one of the most memorable political upsets in American history.
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Jul 13, 1951:
Record-breaking floods hit Kansas



On this day in 1951, rivers across eastern Kansas crest well above flood stage, causing the greatest destruction from flooding in the midwestern United States to that time. Five-hundred-thousand people were left homeless and 24 people died in the disaster.

The above-average rainfall began in June and continued through July 13, dumping well over 25 inches on some areas in eastern Kansas. From July 9 to 13, nearly 6 inches of rain fell. The Kansas, Neosho and Verdigris rivers began taking on more water than their normal carrying capacity a couple of days into the storm. As the rain persisted, flooding began all over the region.

The major towns of Manhattan, Topeka and Lawrence were most affected. The July 13 crest exceeded all previous highs by four to nine feet. Two million acres of farmland were lost to the flood. In addition, the flooding caused fires and explosions in refinery oil tanks on the banks of the Kansas River. Some train passengers traveling through the area were stuck on their trains for nearly four days. In all, $760 million in damages were caused by the flood.

Following the great 1951 flood, a series of reservoirs and levees were constructed all over the area. In 1993, these were credited with minimizing the damage from another record flood.
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Jul 13, 1793:
Charlotte Corday assassinates Marat



Jean Paul Marat, one of the most outspoken leaders of the French Revolution, is stabbed to death in his bath by Charlotte Corday, a Royalist sympathizer.

Originally a doctor, Marat founded the journal L'Ami du Peuple in 1789, and its fiery criticism of those in power was a contributing factor to the bloody turn of the Revolution in 1792. With the arrest of the king in August of that year, Marat was elected as a deputy of Paris to the Convention. In France's revolutionary legislature, Marat opposed the Girondists--a faction made up of moderate republicans who advocated a constitutional government and continental war.

By 1793, Charlotte Corday, the daughter of an impoverished aristocrat and an ally of the Girondists in Normandy, came to regard Marat as the unholy enemy of France and plotted his assassination. Leaving her native Caen for Paris, she had planned to kill Marat at the Bastille Day parade on July 14 but was forced to seek him out in his home when the festivities were canceled. On July 13, she gained an audience with Marat by promising to betray the Caen Girondists. Marat, who had a persistent skin disease, was working as usual in his bath when Corday pulled a knife from her bodice and stabbed him in his chest. He died almost immediately, and Corday waited calmly for the police to come and arrest her. She was guillotined four days later.
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Jul 13, 1943:
Largest tank battle in history ends



The Battle of Kursk, involving some 6,000 tanks, two million men, and 5,000 aircraft, ends with the German offensive repulsed by the Soviets at heavy cost.

In early July, Germany and the USSR concentrated their forces near the city of Kursk in western Russia, site of a 150-mile-wide Soviet pocket that jutted 100 miles into the German lines. The German attack began on July 5, and 38 divisions, nearly half of which were armored, began moving from the south and the north. However, the Soviets had better tanks and air support than in previous battles, and in bitter fighting Soviet antitank artillery destroyed as much as 40 percent of the German armor, which included their new Mark VI Tiger tanks. After six days of warfare concentrated near Prokhorovka, south of Kursk, the German Field Marshal Gunther von Kluge called off the offensive, and by July 23 the Soviets had forced the Germans back to their original positions.

In the beginning of August, the Soviets began a major offensive around the Kursk salient, and within a few weeks the Germans were in retreat all along the eastern front.
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Jul 13, 1960:
Kennedy nominated for presidency



In Los Angeles, California, Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts is nominated for the presidency by the Democratic Party Convention, defeating Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas. The next day, Johnson was named Kennedy's running mate by a unanimous vote of the convention.

Four months later, on November 8, Kennedy won 49.7 percent of the popular vote in one of the closest presidential elections in U.S. history, surpassing by a fraction the 49.6 percent received by Vice President Richard M. Nixon, a Republican.

On January 20, 1961, on the steps of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., John Fitzgerald Kennedy was inaugurated as the 35th president of the United States. A fourth-generation Irish American, Kennedy was also the nation's first Catholic president. During his famous inauguration address, Kennedy, the youngest candidate ever elected to the presidency, declared that "the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans" and appealed to Americans to "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

Kennedy, his wife Jacqueline, and the large Kennedy clan seemed fitting representatives of the youthful spirit of America during the early 1960s, and the Kennedy White House was idealized by admirers as a modern-day "Camelot." In foreign policy, Kennedy actively fought communism in the world, ordering the controversial Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and sending thousands of U.S. military "advisers" to Vietnam. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, he displayed firmness and restraint, exercising an unyielding opposition to the placement of Soviet missiles in Cuba but also demonstrating a level-headedness during tense negotiations for their removal. On the domestic front, he introduced his "New Frontier" social legislation, calling for a rigorous federal desegregation policy and a sweeping new civil rights bill. On November 22, 1963, after less than three years in office, Kennedy was assassinated while riding in an open-car motorcade with his wife in Dallas, Texas.
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Duke of Buckingham
07-17-12, 08:55 PM
This is a figurative speach but seems like true.


Raw materials are needed to build a better world


The general belief was that the previous our leaders are no good.

One and then the other, The last one is very bad and the other before was worst.

So I begin to suspect that the problem is not the politicians.

The problem is in us. We as a people.

We as a raw material of this world.

Because I belong to a world where the currency is CUNNING

always valued as much or more than the euro or the dolar.

A world where getting rich overnight is a virtue

more appreciated than a family

based on values ​​and respect for others.

I belong to a world where private companies are providing special
their employees not honest, who take home,
as if it were correct, sheets of paper, pencils, pens, paper clips and anything that might be useful
to the children, their wife ... and themselves.

I belong to a world where people feel smart because
they were able to buy a fake cable TV decoder,
where the diaper tax return for not paying or paying less tax.

I belong to a world:

-Where the lack of punctuality is a habit;

-Where the directors of the companies do not value human capital.

-Where there is little interest in ecology, where people throw trash on the streets and then
complain of the government for not cleaning the sewers.

-Where do people complain that the light and water services are expensive
and try to forget the oil and all the lifes energy costs and good water will do either.

-Where there is no culture of reading (where our young people say
is 'very annoying to have to read') and there is no consciousness or memory
political, historical or economic.

-Where our politicians work two days a week to approve projects and laws
that only serve to hunt the poor, the middle class tease
and benefit a few.

I belong to a world where driving licenses and medical statements
can be 'bought', without making any examination.

-A world where a person of advanced age or a woman with a child in her arms,
or a cripple, stands on the bus, while the person sitting
pretends to sleep not to give the place.

-A world in which the right of way is for the car
and not to the pedestrian.

-A world where we do many things wrong,
but we always criticize our rulers.

The more I analyze the defects of our leaders,
I feel better as a person, although yesterday
corrupted a traffic cop to avoid being fined.

The more I say how much the politicians are guilty, the better I am as citizen of the world,
although even this morning explored a client who trusted me,
which helped me to pay some debts.

No. No. No. That's enough.

As 'raw material' of a world, we have many good things,
but lacks much to be men and women that our world needs.

These defects, this cunny congenital
that dishonesty on a small scale, which then grows and evolves
to become scandals in politics, this lack of human quality
more than the leaders we talk so badly,
is it real bad and honestly, because they all are from each country we are in, like us,
ELECTED BY US.. Born in our country, not elsewhere ...

I am sad.

Because, even though today if it were any of them,
the next to succeed him will have to continue working with the same raw material
defective, as people, ourselves.

And we can not do anything ...

I have no guarantee that someone can do better,
but as someone does not signal a path for the
first eradicate the vices that we as a people, nobody will.

What is the alternative?

We need more a bunch of dictators, that enforce the law
with the force and by terror?

Here is something else missing. And while this 'other thing' does not begin
emerging from bottom to top or top to bottom, or center to the sides,
or whatever you want, we will also condemned
also stagnated ... also abused!

It's great to be here. But when that starts Homo Smart and Fast
to be a hindrance to our development possibilities
as a world, then everything changes ...

Do not wait to light a candle to your GOD,
for HIM to send us a messiah.

We have to change. A new ruler with the same people
nothing can do.

It is very clear ... It is we who have to change.

Yes, I think this fits very well in everything that walks happening to us:

Excuse the mediocrity of TV programs and harmful,
frankly, we are tolerant of failure.

It is the industry's excuse and stupidity.

Now, after this message, frankly, I decided to look for responsible,

not to punish, but to ask you (yes, require)
to improve its behavior and that do not play def or dumb.

Yes, I decided to look responsible and I'm sure I'll find
WHEN I LOOK IN THE MIRROR.

THERE IS. LOOKING FOR YOU DO NOT NEED TO LOOK IN ANOTHER SIDE.

And you, what do you think? ... Meditate!

Duke of Buckingham
07-18-12, 05:46 AM
Jul 18, 1940:
FDR nominated for unprecedented third term

On this day in 1940, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who first took office in 1933 as America's 32nd president, is nominated for an unprecedented third term. Roosevelt, a Democrat, would eventually be elected to a record four terms in office, the only U.S. president to serve more than two terms.

Roosevelt was born January 30, 1882, in Hyde Park, New York, and went on to serve as a New York state senator from 1911 to 1913, assistant secretary of the Navy from 1913 to 1920 and governor of New York from 1929 to 1932. In 1932, he defeated incumbent Herbert Hoover to be elected president for the first time. During his first term, Roosevelt enacted his New Deal social programs, which were aimed at lifting America out of the Great Depression. In 1936, he won his second term in office by defeating Kansas governor Alf Landon in a landslide.

On July 18, 1940, Roosevelt was nominated for a third presidential term at the Democratic Party convention in Chicago. The president received some criticism for running again because there was an unwritten rule in American politics that no U.S. president should serve more than two terms. The custom dated back to the country's first president, George Washington, who in 1796 declined to run for a third term in office. Nevertheless, Roosevelt believed it was his duty to continue serving and lead his country through the mounting crisis in Europe, where Hitler's Nazi Germany was on the rise. The president went on to defeat Republican Wendell Wilkie in the general election, and his third term in office was dominated by America's involvement in World War II.

In 1944, with the war still in progress, Roosevelt defeated New York governor Thomas Dewey for a fourth term in office. However, the president was unable to complete the full term. On April 12, 1945, Roosevelt, who had suffered from various health problems for years, died at age 63 in Warm Springs, Georgia. He was succeeded by Vice President Harry S. Truman. On March 21, 1947, Congress passed the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which stated that no person could be elected to the office of president more than twice. The amendment was ratified by the required number of states in 1951.
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Jul 18, 1792:
Naval hero John Paul Jones dies in Paris

On this day in 1792, the Revolutionary War naval hero John Paul Jones dies in his Paris apartment, where he was still awaiting a commission as the United States consul to Algiers. Commander Jones, remembered as one of the most daring and successful naval commanders of the American Revolution, was born in Scotland, on July 6, 1747. He became an apprentice to a merchant at 13 and soon went to sea, traveling first to the West Indies and then to North America as a young man.

In Virginia at the onset of the American Revolution, Jones sided with the Patriots and received a commission as a first lieutenant in the Continental Navy on December 7, 1775. After departing from Brest, Jones successfully executed raids on two forts in England's Whitehaven Harbor, despite a disgruntled crew more interested in gain than honor. Jones then continued to his home territory of Kirkcudbright Bay, Scotland, where he intended to abduct the earl of Selkirk and then exchange him for American sailors held captive by Britain. Although he did not find the earl at home, Jones' crew was able to steal all his silver, including his wife's teapot, still containing her breakfast tea. From Scotland, Jones sailed across the Irish Sea to Carrickfergus, where his Ranger captured the HMS Drake after delivering fatal wounds to the British ship`s captain and lieutenant.

In September 1779, Jones fought one of the fiercest battles in naval history when he led the USS Bonhomme Richard frigate, named for Benjamin Franklin, in an engagement with the 50-gun British warship HMS Serapis. After the Bonhomme Richard was struck, it began taking on water and caught fire. When the British captain of the Serapis ordered Jones to surrender, he famously replied, "I have not yet begun to fight!" A few hours later, the captain and crew of the Serapis admitted defeat and Jones took command of the British ship.

One of the greatest naval commanders in history, Jones is remembered as a Father of the American Navy, along with fellow Revolutionary War hero Commodore John Barry. At the conclusion of the American War for Independence, Jones briefly served Empress Catherine II of Russia, before retiring to Paris. John Paul Jones is buried in a crypt at the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, Maryland, where a Marine honor guard stands at attention in his honor whenever the crypt is open to the public.
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Jul 18, 1945:
Charges of communists in the U.S. Army raised

In testimony before the House Military Affairs subcommittee, the subcommittee's chief counsel, H. Ralph Burton, charges that 16 officers and non-commissioned officers in the U.S. Army have pasts that "reflect communism." The charges, issued nearly 10 years before Senator Joseph McCarthy would make similar accusations, were hotly denied by the U.S. Army and government.

By July 1945, with the war in Europe having ended just two months before, Cold War animosities between the United States and the Soviet Union were already beginning to arise. The two nations, allies against Hitler during World War II, were dividing over issues such as the postwar fate of Germany and the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe. One aspect of the growing tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States involved charges that communist agents were at work in various sectors of American society, such as Hollywood and the federal government. In July 1945, House Military Affairs subcommittee chief counsel H. Ralph Burton testified that his investigations revealed at least 16 officers and non-commissioned officers in the U.S. Army had communist backgrounds. As evidence, Burton cited the fact that some of the men had contributed writings to radical journals such as New Masses. In addition, some of the men had served in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, a volunteer fighting force that battled against the fascist forces of Franco in Spain during that nation's civil war in the 1930s. The U.S. Army quickly fired back, declaring that its own investigation revealed that none of the men named by Burton "was disaffected or disloyal." Whatever activities prior to their military service the men might have engaged in, "the real criterion always remains: Is the individual at the present time whole-heartedly loyal to the United States?" In the celebration that accompanied the U.S. victory over Japan less than three weeks after Burton's testimony, the charges against the U.S. Army were forgotten.

Burton's charges are of interest, however, coming nearly 10 years prior to Senator Joseph McCarthy's similar accusations against the U.S. Army in 1954. In the latter case, McCarthy was completely disgraced during his hearings into communism in the Army. The 1945 accusations indicate that McCarthy was not the creator of the so-called Red Scare that swept the nation after World War II. Indeed, even before World War II came to an end, charges of communist infiltration of the U.S. government and military were being issued.
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Jul 18, 1984:
Twenty-one people are shot to death at McDonald's

James Oliver Huberty opens fire in a crowded McDonald's restaurant in San Ysidro, California, killing 21 people and wounding 19 others with several automatic weapons. Minutes earlier, Huberty had left home, telling his wife, "I'm going hunting... hunting for humans."

Huberty, who had a history of mental problems, lost his job in Ohio the previous year. He brought his family to San Diego and worked as a security guard until he was fired again, a month before the shootings. His wife claimed that Huberty called a mental health clinic to make an appointment for counseling but was never called back. Huberty had a love affair with guns, keeping a small arsenal in his bedroom. Neighbors described him as very angry.

Bringing several of these guns, including a 9mm automatic pistol and semiautomatic rifle, into the McDonald's two miles from the Mexican border, Huberty demanded that the 45 patrons get on the floor. He then walked around the restaurant, calmly shooting people. He killed 20 in the first ten minutes, including four who tried to escape. There were so many shots fired that the police first assumed that there was more than one gunman inside. Firing at a fire truck that responded to the scene, Huberty also grazed one firefighter with a bullet.

An hour after the shooting began, an employee managed to escape through the basement and inform the SWAT team that Huberty was alone and without hostages. With this information, sharpshooters were told to "take him out." A marksman sent a shot through Huberty's chest and killed him. After making sure that he was dead, police finally entered the restaurant. San Diego Police Chief William Kolender said, "I hope to God I never see such a thing again."
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Jul 18, 64:
Nero's Rome burns

The great fire of Rome breaks out and destroys much of the city on this day in the year 64. Despite the well-known stories, there is no evidence that the Roman emperor, Nero, either started the fire or played the fiddle while it burned. Still, he did use the disaster to further his political agenda.

The fire began in the slums of a district south of the legendary Palatine Hill. The area's homes burned very quickly and the fire spread north, fueled by high winds. During the chaos of the fire, there were reports of heavy looting. The fire ended up raging out of control for nearly three days. Three of Rome's 14 districts were completely wiped out; only four were untouched by the tremendous conflagration. Hundreds of people died in the fire and many thousands were left homeless.

Although popular legend holds that Emperor Nero fiddled while the city burned, this account is wrong on several accounts. First, the fiddle did not even exist at the time. Instead, Nero was well known for his talent on the lyre; he often composed his own music. More importantly, Nero was actually 35 miles away in Antium when the fire broke out. In fact, he let his palace be used as a shelter.

Legend has long blamed Nero for a couple of reasons. Nero did not like the aesthetics of the city and used the devastation of the fire in order to change much of it and institute new building codes throughout the city. Nero also used the fire to clamp down on the growing influence of Christians in Rome. He arrested, tortured and executed hundreds of Christians on the pretext that they had something to do with the fire.
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Duke of Buckingham
07-19-12, 03:56 AM
Jul 19, 1799:
Rosetta Stone found



On this day in 1799, during Napoleon Bonaparte's Egyptian campaign, a French soldier discovers a black basalt slab inscribed with ancient writing near the town of Rosetta, about 35 miles north of Alexandria. The irregularly shaped stone contained fragments of passages written in three different scripts: Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphics and Egyptian demotic. The ancient Greek on the Rosetta Stone told archaeologists that it was inscribed by priests honoring the king of Egypt, Ptolemy V, in the second century B.C. More startlingly, the Greek passage announced that the three scripts were all of identical meaning. The artifact thus held the key to solving the riddle of hieroglyphics, a written language that had been "dead" for nearly 2,000 years.

When Napoleon, an emperor known for his enlightened view of education, art and culture, invaded Egypt in 1798, he took along a group of scholars and told them to seize all important cultural artifacts for France. Pierre Bouchard, one of Napoleon's soldiers, was aware of this order when he found the basalt stone, which was almost four feet long and two-and-a-half feet wide, at a fort near Rosetta. When the British defeated Napoleon in 1801, they took possession of the Rosetta Stone.

Several scholars, including Englishman Thomas Young made progress with the initial hieroglyphics analysis of the Rosetta Stone. French Egyptologist Jean-Francois Champollion (1790-1832), who had taught himself ancient languages, ultimately cracked the code and deciphered the hieroglyphics using his knowledge of Greek as a guide. Hieroglyphics used pictures to represent objects, sounds and groups of sounds. Once the Rosetta Stone inscriptions were translated, the language and culture of ancient Egypt was suddenly open to scientists as never before.

The Rosetta Stone has been housed at the British Museum in London since 1802, except for a brief period during World War I. At that time, museum officials moved it to a separate underground location, along with other irreplaceable items from the museum's collection, to protect it from the threat of bombs.
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Jul 19, 1942:
George Washington Carver begins experimental project with Henry Ford



On this day in 1942, the agricultural chemist George Washington Carver, head of Alabama's famed Tuskegee Institute, arrives in Dearborn, Michigan at the invitation of Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company.

Born to slave parents in Missouri during the Civil War, Carver managed to get a high school education while working as a farmhand in Kansas in his late 20s. Turned away by a Kansas university because he was an African American, Carver later became the first black student at Iowa State Agricultural College in Ames, where he obtained his bachelor's and master's degrees. In 1896, Carver left Iowa to head the department of agriculture at the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, a school founded by the leading black educator Booker T. Washington. By convincing farmers in the South to plant peanuts as an alternative to cotton, Carver helped resuscitate the region's agriculture; in the process, he became one of the most respected and influential scientists in the country.

Like Carver, Ford was deeply interested in the regenerative properties of soil and the potential of alternative crops such as peanuts and soybeans to produce plastics, paint, fuel and other products. Ford had long believed that the world would eventually need a substitute for gasoline, and supported the production of ethanol (or grain alcohol) as an alternative fuel. In 1942, he would showcase a car with a lightweight plastic body made from soybeans. Ford and Carver began corresponding via letter in 1934, and their mutual admiration deepened after Carver made a visit to Michigan in 1937. As Douglas Brinkley writes in "Wheels for the World," his history of Ford, the automaker donated generously to the Tuskegee Institute, helping finance Carver's experiments, and Carver in turn spent a period of time helping to oversee crops at the Ford plantation in Ways, Georgia.

By the time World War II began, Ford had made repeated journeys to Tuskegee to convince Carver to come to Dearborn and help him develop a synthetic rubber to help compensate for wartime rubber shortages. Carver arrived on July 19, 1942, and set up a laboratory in an old water works building in Dearborn. He and Ford experimented with different crops, including sweet potatoes and dandelions, eventually devising a way to make the rubber substitute from goldenrod, a plant weed. Carver died in January 1943, Ford in April 1947, but the relationship between their two institutions continued to flourish: As recently as the late 1990s, Ford awarded grants of $4 million over two years to the George Washington Carver School at Tuskegee.
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Jul 19, 1956:
United States withdraws offer of aid for Aswan Dam



Secretary of State John Foster Dulles announces that the United States is withdrawing its offer of financial aid to Egypt to help with the construction of the Aswan Dam on the Nile River. The action drove Egypt further toward an alliance with the Soviet Union and was a contributing factor to the Suez Crisis later in 1956.

In December 1955, Secretary Dulles announced that the United States, together with Great Britain, was providing nearly $70 million in aid to Egypt to help in the construction of the Aswan Dam on the Nile River. Dulles had agreed to this assistance only reluctantly. He was deeply suspicious of Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser, who he believed to be a reckless and dangerous nationalist. However, others in the Eisenhower administration convinced Dulles that the American aid might pull Nasser back from his relationship with the Soviet Union and prevent the growth of Soviet power in the Middle East. Just seven months after the announcement, however, Dulles declared that the American offer was being revoked. He cited difficulties in arranging the financial details of the U.S. grant with the Egyptian government, but his real motivation was Nasser's unceasing attacks on Western colonialism and imperialism and Egypt's continued dalliance with the Soviet Union.

Dulles might have believed that without the American aid, the dam project would fold. On this point, he was wrong. The Soviets rushed to Egypt's aid, and the Aswan Dam was officially opened in 1964. Nasser, of course, was furious with the U.S. action. So, too, were the British, who believed that America's withdrawal of aid had provided the opening for Soviet penetration of Egypt. In October 1956, British, French, and Israeli forces attacked Egypt, claiming that they were protecting the Suez Canal. The incident nearly provoked a U.S.-Soviet confrontation, but President Dwight D. Eisenhower coupled stern warnings against any Soviet military action with a refusal to support the British, French, and Israeli invasion. The invading forces withdrew from Egypt in early 1957. Nevertheless, the damage to U.S. relations with the Middle East was done and the area would remain a Cold War hotspot throughout the next 35 years.
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Jul 19, 1991:
Mike Tyson rapes a Miss Black America contestant



Notorious boxer Mike Tyson rapes Desiree Washington, a contestant in the Miss Black America pageant, in an Indianapolis, Indiana, hotel room. At a time when the issue of date rape was entering the country's consciousness, Tyson's attack became a national sensation.

Tyson, who had lost his heavyweight title in February 1990 to James "Buster" Douglas, was preparing for a chance to win it back later in the year. However, Tyson's behavior had become increasingly erratic. His marriage to Robin Givens had fallen apart amid accusations of domestic violence. Furthermore, there were multiple reports that Tyson was known for unwanted, crude, and sometimes violent advances toward women wherever he went.

Tyson attended the Miss Black America pageant in Indianapolis to lend his celebrity to the event. At a photo opportunity with the contestants, Tyson flirted with the women by grabbing and hugging them. Later, several women would testify that Tyson had made disgusting propositions to them. Still, the boxer impressed Desiree Washington, a college student from Rhode Island.

After attending a Johnny Gill concert that night, Tyson found himself without a date. He called Washington and convinced her to join him so that they could talk and get to know one another. At his hotel, Washington agreed to accompany Tyson to his room so that he could pick up something he claimed to have left in his room. Surprising her as she came out of the bathroom, Tyson pinned Washington to the bed, telling her to relax as he forced himself upon her. Washington left the room alone about 30 minutes after arriving. A hospital medical examination was conducted and found to be consistent with Washington's account. Tyson claimed that the sexual encounter was purely consensual and that Washington had made the story up for money and because she was angry that Tyson had not walked her down to his limousine.

On February 10, 1992, Tyson was convicted of rape. At his sentencing hearing, the remorseless Tyson railed about his own social "humiliation" and received a six-year sentence. Even an appeal by the famous attorney Alan Dershowitz could not get Tyson a new trial.

After his release in 1995, Tyson became even more paranoid and out of control. In June 1997, Tyson bit off a chunk of Evander Holyfield's ear during a boxing match, for which his boxing license was revoked. In a 1999 interview, Tyson maintained that he would bite off his opponent's ear if the situation arose again. Despite these comments, Tyson was granted a reinstatement of his boxing license. Although Tyson continued to fight, he never regained his previous dominance. He declared bankruptcy in 2003 and retired two years later, in June 2005, after losing three of his last four fights.
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Jul 19, 1898:
Emile Zola flees France



Novelist Emile Zola flees France on this day in 1898 to escape imprisonment after being convicted of libel against the French army in the notorious Dreyfus affair.

Zola was a well-known writer who had published his first book, a collection of stories, more than three decades earlier. After failing his baccalaureate, he worked in the sales department of a major French publisher, who encouraged his writing and published his first book. He became one of the most famous writers in France with the publication of his 1877 hit, The Drunkard, part of his 20-novel cycle exploring the lives of two families.

In 1898, Zola wrote an inflammatory newspaper letter, entitled "J'Accuse," exposing a military cover-up regarding Captain Alfred Dreyfus. Dreyfus, a French army captain, had been accused of espionage in 1894 and sentenced in a secret military court-martial to imprisonment in a South American penal colony. Two years later, evidence of Dreyfus' innocence surfaced, but the army suppressed the information. Zola's letter blamed the military for concealing its mistaken conviction.

Zola's letter provoked national outrage on both sides of the issue, among political parties, religious organizations, and others. He was brought to trial for libel, convicted, and sentenced to one year's imprisonment. He fled France but returned in 1899, after Dreyfus was pardoned. Zola died in 1902, four years before Dreyfus was finally exonerated.
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Duke of Buckingham
07-20-12, 05:26 AM
Jul 20, 1969:
Armstrong walks on moon

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At 10:56 p.m. EDT, American astronaut Neil Armstrong, 240,000 miles from Earth, speaks these words to more than a billion people listening at home: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Stepping off the lunar landing module Eagle, Armstrong became the first human to walk on the surface of the moon.

The American effort to send astronauts to the moon has its origins in a famous appeal President John F. Kennedy made to a special joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961: "I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth." At the time, the United States was still trailing the Soviet Union in space developments, and Cold War-era America welcomed Kennedy's bold proposal.

In 1966, after five years of work by an international team of scientists and engineers, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) conducted the first unmanned Apollo mission, testing the structural integrity of the proposed launch vehicle and spacecraft combination. Then, on January 27, 1967, tragedy struck at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, when a fire broke out during a manned launch-pad test of the Apollo spacecraft and Saturn rocket. Three astronauts were killed in the fire.

Despite the setback, NASA and its thousands of employees forged ahead, and in October 1968, Apollo 7, the first manned Apollo mission, orbited Earth and successfully tested many of the sophisticated systems needed to conduct a moon journey and landing. In December of the same year, Apollo 8 took three astronauts to the dark side of the moon and back, and in March 1969 Apollo 9 tested the lunar module for the first time while in Earth orbit. Then in May, the three astronauts of Apollo 10 took the first complete Apollo spacecraft around the moon in a dry run for the scheduled July landing mission.

At 9:32 a.m. on July 16, with the world watching, Apollo 11 took off from Kennedy Space Center with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin Jr., and Michael Collins aboard. Armstrong, a 38-year-old civilian research pilot, was the commander of the mission. After traveling 240,000 miles in 76 hours, Apollo 11 entered into a lunar orbit on July 19. The next day, at 1:46 p.m., the lunar module Eagle, manned by Armstrong and Aldrin, separated from the command module, where Collins remained. Two hours later, the Eagle began its descent to the lunar surface, and at 4:18 p.m. the craft touched down on the southwestern edge of the Sea of Tranquility. Armstrong immediately radioed to Mission Control in Houston, Texas, a famous message: "The Eagle has landed."

At 10:39 p.m., five hours ahead of the original schedule, Armstrong opened the hatch of the lunar module. As he made his way down the lunar module's ladder, a television camera attached to the craft recorded his progress and beamed the signal back to Earth, where hundreds of millions watched in great anticipation. At 10:56 p.m., Armstrong spoke his famous quote, which he later contended was slightly garbled by his microphone and meant to be "that's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." He then planted his left foot on the gray, powdery surface, took a cautious step forward, and humanity had walked on the moon.

"Buzz" Aldrin joined him on the moon's surface at 11:11 p.m., and together they took photographs of the terrain, planted a U.S. flag, ran a few simple scientific tests, and spoke with President Richard M. Nixon via Houston. By 1:11 a.m. on July 21, both astronauts were back in the lunar module and the hatch was closed. The two men slept that night on the surface of the moon, and at 1:54 p.m. the Eagle began its ascent back to the command module. Among the items left on the surface of the moon was a plaque that read: "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the moon--July 1969 A.D--We came in peace for all mankind."

At 5:35 p.m., Armstrong and Aldrin successfully docked and rejoined Collins, and at 12:56 a.m. on July 22 Apollo 11 began its journey home, safely splashing down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:51 p.m. on July 24.

There would be five more successful lunar landing missions, and one unplanned lunar swing-by, Apollo 13. The last men to walk on the moon, astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt of the Apollo 17 mission, left the lunar surface on December 14, 1972. The Apollo program was a costly and labor intensive endeavor, involving an estimated 400,000 engineers, technicians, and scientists, and costing $24 billion (close to $100 billion in today's dollars). The expense was justified by Kennedy's 1961 mandate to beat the Soviets to the moon, and after the feat was accomplished ongoing missions lost their viability.
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Jul 20, 1972:
U.S. government study disputes Nader's charges against Corvair



On this day in 1972, the results of a two-year study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation are released; the study concludes that 1960-63 Chevrolet Corvair models are at least as safe as comparable models of other cars sold in the same period, directly contradicting charges made by the leading consumer advocate Ralph Nader.

In his bestselling 1965 book "Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile," Nader had dedicated an entire chapter, titled "The One-Car Accident," to the Corvair. Upon its debut in 1960, the Corvair won Motor Trend's "Car of the Year" honors and became an immediate sensation thanks to its innovative design and its lightweight, air-cooled, rear-mounted aluminum engine. However, its deficiencies–including its tendency to oversteer and spin out of control in the hands of the average driver–earned almost as much attention. After his niece was seriously injured in a Corvair, the general manager of General Motors himself threatened to resign if the car's suspension was not redesigned (it was, in 1964). By the time the revamped Corvair was released in 1965, Nader had already published "Unsafe at Any Speed," making 1960-63 Corvair models the target of his most outraged criticism. Sales of the Corvair swiftly dwindled, and GM withdrew the car from production in 1969.

At Nader's own urging, the U.S. government began a comparative study of the 1963 Corvair with other comparable vehicles in September 1970. The other cars used were a 1967 Corvair (featuring the newly redesigned suspension), a 1962 Ford Falcon, a 1960 Plymouth Valiant, a 1962 Volkswagen and a 1963 Renault. Nader had specifically criticized the Corvair's handling and stability, as well as its tendency to roll over during sharp turns. In the study's results, released on July 20, 1972, the government stated, among other conclusions, that the Corvair's handling in a sharp turn did not "result in abnormal potential for loss of control" and that the rollover rate for the Corvair was comparable to that of "other light domestic cars."

According to The New York Times, Nader spoke out against the study, calling it "a shoddy, internally contradictory whitewash" and accusing the Highway Traffic Administration of using "biased testing procedures and model selection." He argued against the use of only the 1963 Corvair in the tests, which he said was significantly different from the 1960-62 models–a charge that the government disputed, saying that the first significant changes to the Corvair were made in 1964. Three independent engineers certified the government's findings, calling them "reasonable, appropriate and sound," and General Motors issued a statement stating that the study "confirms our position on the handling and stability characteristics of these cars."
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Jul 20, 1948:
Truman issues peacetime draft



President Harry S. Truman institutes a military draft with a proclamation calling for nearly 10 million men to register for military service within the next two months. Truman's action came during increasing Cold War tensions with the Soviet Union.

Following World War II, the United States moved quickly to demobilize the vast military it had constructed during the conflict. During the war, more than 16 million men and women served in the U.S. military; when the war ended in August 1945, the American people demanded rapid demobilization. By 1948, less than 550,000 men remained in the U.S. Army. This rapid decline in the size of America's military concerned U.S. government officials, who believed that a confrontation with the Soviet Union was imminent. During the years following World War II, relations between the Russians and Americans deteriorated rapidly. In 1947, the president issued the Truman Doctrine, which provided aid to Greece and Turkey to oppose communist subversion. In that same year, Secretary of State George C. Marshall warned that Western Europe was on the brink of political and economic chaos that would leave it defenseless against communist aggression; the following year, Congress approved billions of dollars in financial assistance to the beleaguered nations. In June 1948, the Soviets cut all land traffic into the U.S.-British-French zones of occupation in West Berlin. The United States responded with the Berlin Airlift, in which tons of food and supplies were flown in to sustain the population of the besieged city. In light of these events, many Americans believed that actual combat with the Soviet Union was not far away. In response to this threat, President Truman announced on July 20, 1948, that the United States was re-instituting the draft and issued a proclamation requiring nearly 10 million men to register for military service in the next two months.

Truman's decision underlined the urgency of his administration's concern about a possible military confrontation with the Soviet Union. It also brought home to the American people in concrete terms the possibility that the Cold War could, at any moment, become an actual war. In 1950, possibility turned to reality when the United States entered the Korean War, and the size of America's armed forces once again increased dramatically.
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Jul 20, 1977:
Second great flood hits Johnstown



A flash flood hits Johnstown, Pennsylvania, on this day in 1977, killing 84 people and causing millions of dollars in damages. This flood came 88 years after the infamous Great Flood of 1889 that killed more than 2,000 people in Johnstown. As they had in the first flood, the dams in the Conemaugh Valley failed, bringing disaster to the town.

The flood occurred when an extraordinary amount of rain came down in the Conemaugh Valley in a short period of time. Nearly 12 inches were measured in 10 hours. The National Weather Service later estimated that this amount of rain in that location should happen less than once every 1,000 years.

The largest dam that burst was at Laurel Run. This 10-year-old earthen dam held back 100 million gallons of water. Despite having a 42-foot-high spillway, the dam failed and the resulting flood devastated the town of Tanneryville. Five other dams in the area also burst, releasing another 30 million gallons of water over the landscape.

The failure of the dams came as a big surprise. Johnstown had constructed an entire system designed to completely eliminate the flood risk. In addition, regular inspections had turned up no defects. Still, the dams were no match for the thunderstorm that stalled over the area on July 20.

In addition to the 84 people who lost their lives to the flood, $300 million in damages were suffered and hundreds of people lost their homes. President Carter declared the region a federal disaster area and the National Guard was sent to assist in the relief efforts. Despite millions spent to rehabilitate the Johnstown area, the economy never recovered. The city's population decreased nearly 15 percent in the aftermath of the flood, as people moved away to rebuild their lives elsewhere.
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Jul 20, 1881:
Sitting Bull surrenders



Five years after General George A. Custer's infamous defeat at the Battle of Little Bighorn, Hunkpapa Teton Sioux leader Sitting Bull surrenders to the U.S. Army, which promises amnesty for him and his followers. Sitting Bull had been a major leader in the 1876 Sioux uprising that resulted in the death of Custer and 264 of his men at Little Bighorn. Pursued by the U.S. Army after the Indian victory, he escaped to Canada with his followers.

Born in the Grand River Valley in what is now South Dakota, Sitting Bull gained early recognition in his Sioux tribe as a capable warrior and a man of vision. In 1864, he fought against the U.S. Army under General Alfred Sully at Killdeer Mountain and thereafter dedicated himself to leading Sioux resistance against white encroachment. He soon gained a following in not only his own tribe but in the Cheyenne and Arapaho Native American groups as well. In 1867, he was made principal chief of the entire Sioux nation.

In 1873, in what would serve as a preview of the Battle of Little Bighorn three years later, an Indian military coalition featuring the leadership of Sitting Bull skirmished briefly with Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer. In 1876, Sitting Bull was not a strategic leader in the U.S. defeat at Little Bighorn, but his spiritual influence inspired Crazy Horse and the other victorious Indian military leaders. He subsequently fled to Canada, but in 1881, with his people starving, he returned to the United States and surrendered.

He was held as a prisoner of war at Fort Randall in South Dakota territory for two years and then was permitted to live on Standing Rock Reservation straddling North and South Dakota territory. In 1885, he traveled for a season with Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West show and then returned to Standing Rock. In 1889, the spiritual proclamations of Sitting Bull influenced the rise of the "Ghost Dance," an Indian religious movement that proclaimed that the whites would disappear and the dead Indians and buffalo would return.

His support of the Ghost Dance movement had brought him into disfavor with government officials, and on December 15, 1890, Indian police burst into Sitting Bull's house in the Grand River area of South Dakota and attempted to arrest him. There is confusion as to what happened next. By some accounts, Sitting Bull's warriors shot the leader of the police, who immediately turned and gunned down Sitting Bull. In another account, the police were instructed by Major James McLaughlin, director of the Standing Rock Sioux Agency, to kill the chief at any sign of resistance. Whatever the case, Sitting Bull was fatally shot and died within hours. The Indian police hastily buried his body at Fort Yates within the Standing Rock Reservation. In 1953, his remains were moved into Mobridge, South Dakota, where a granite shaft marks his resting place.
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Jul 20, 1976:
Viking 1 lands on Mars



On the seventh anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, the Viking 1 lander, an unmanned U.S. planetary probe, becomes the first spacecraft to successfully land on the surface of Mars.

Viking 1 was launched on August 20, 1975, and arrived at Mars on June 19, 1976. The first month of its orbit was devoted to imaging the surface to find appropriate landing sites. On July 20, 1976, the Viking 1 lander separated from the orbiter, touched down on the Chryse Planitia region of Mars, and sent back the first close-up photographs of the rust-colored Martian surface.

In September 1976, Viking 2--launched only three weeks after Viking 1--entered into orbit around Mars, where it assisted Viking 1 in imaging the surface and also sent down a lander. During the dual Viking missions, the two orbiters imaged the entire surface of Mars at a resolution of 150 to 300 meters, and the two landers sent back more than 1,400 images of the planet's surface.
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Duke of Buckingham
07-22-12, 07:55 PM
Jul 22, 2003:
Jessica Lynch gets hero's welcome



On this day in 2003, U.S. Army Private Jessica Lynch, a prisoner-of-war who was rescued from an Iraqi hospital, receives a hero's welcome when she returns to her hometown of Palestine, West Virginia. The story of the 19-year-old supply clerk, who was captured by Iraqi forces in March 2003, gripped America; however, it was later revealed that some details of Lynch's dramatic capture and rescue might have been exaggerated.

Lynch, who was born April 26, 1983, was part of the 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company from Fort Bliss, Texas. On March 23, 2003, just days after the U.S. invaded Iraq, Lynch was riding in a supply convoy when her unit took a wrong turn and was ambushed by Iraqi forces near Nasiriya. Eleven American soldiers died and four others besides Lynch were captured.

Lynch, who sustained multiple broken bones and other injuries when her vehicle crashed during the ambush, was taken to an Iraqi hospital. On April 1, she was rescued by U.S. Special Forces who raided the hospital where she was being held. They also recovered the bodies of eight of Lynch's fellow soldiers. Lynch was taken to a military hospital in Germany for treatment and then returned to the United States.

Lynch's story garnered massive media attention and she became an overnight celebrity. Various reports emerged about Lynch's experience, with some news accounts indicating that even after Lynch was wounded during the ambush she fought back against her captors. However, Lynch later stated that she had been knocked unconscious after her vehicle crashed and couldn't remember the details of what had happened to her. She also said she had not been mistreated by the staff at the Iraqi hospital and they put up no resistance to her rescue. Critics–and Lynch herself–charged the U.S. government with embellishing her story to boost patriotism and help promote the Iraq war.

In August 2003, Lynch received a medical honorable discharge. She collaborated on a book about her experience, I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story, which was released later that year. In April 2007, Lynch testified before Congress that she had falsely been portrayed as a "little girl Rambo" and the U.S. military had hyped her story for propaganda reasons. According to Lynch: "I am still confused as to why they chose to lie and tried to make me a legend when the real heroics of my fellow soldiers that day were, in fact, legendary." She added: "The truth of war is not always easy to hear but is always more heroic than the hype."
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Jul 22, 2002:
California governor signs new auto emissions legislation



On July 22, 2002, over the strenuous opposition of the United Auto Workers (UAW) and the auto industry, Governor Gray Davis of California signs a stringent law regulating emissions from automobiles.

The U.S. Congress passed the first national fuel economy standards, known as Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, in 1975, in the wake of the 1973 oil embargo.

The standards sought to control emissions of so-called "greenhouse gases" (such as carbon dioxide) from cars and light trucks that contribute to global warming, or the gradual increase in the temperature of the earth's atmosphere. Automakers have historically resisted increases in these standards, as stricter standards usually require an overhaul of their production methods to make cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles.

California--which represents 10 percent of the nation's automobile market and is known for its struggles with air pollution--took the lead early in setting stricter fuel emissions standards than the federal government's. Assembly Bill (AB) 1493, which Davis signed into law in July 2002, was the first law in the nation to address the greenhouse gases emitted in automobile exhaust. The law required the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to regulate greenhouse gases under the state's motor vehicle program and gave automakers until the 2009 model year to produce cars and light trucks that would collectively emit 22 percent fewer greenhouse gases by 2012 and 30 percent fewer by 2016.

Despite his well-documented enthusiasm for the Hummer, a sport-utility-vehicle (SUV) known for its prodigious size (and prodigious emission of greenhouse gases), Davis' Republican successor, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, sought to uphold AB 1493 against continuous challenges from the auto industry and the presidential administration of George W. Bush. Democrat Barack Obama's election as president in 2008 turned the tide in California's favor: In January 2009, Obama directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reverse an earlier decision and give California (by then joined by 13 other states) the right to adopt tougher auto emissions standards. That May, Obama announced plans to bring the entire nation up to California's proposed standard, which would make cars nationwide roughly 30 percent cleaner and more fuel-efficient by 2016.
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Jul 22, 1987:
Gorbachev accepts ban on intermediate-range nuclear missiles



In a dramatic turnaround, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev indicates that he is willing to negotiate a ban on intermediate-range nuclear missiles without conditions. Gorbachev's decision paved the way for the groundbreaking Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with the United States.

Since coming to power in 1985, Gorbachev had made it clear that he sought a less contentious relationship with the United States. His American counterpart, President Ronald Reagan, was a staunch anticommunist and initially harbored deep suspicions about Gorbachev's sincerity. After meeting with Gorbachev in November 1985, however, Reagan came to believe that progress might be made on a number of issues, including arms control. In subsequent summit meetings, the two leaders focused on the so-called intermediate-range nuclear missiles that both nations had massed in Europe and around the world. In late 1986, it appeared that the two nations were close to an agreement that would eliminate the weapons from Europe. Negotiations stumbled, however, when Gorbachev demanded that the elimination of the missiles be accompanied by U.S. abandonment of its development of the strategic defense initiative (the "Star Wars" plan). The talks broke down while Reagan and Gorbachev traded accusations of bad faith. On July 22, 1987, Gorbachev dramatically announced that he was ready to discuss the elimination of intermediate-range missiles on a worldwide basis, with no conditions. By dropping his objection to the strategic defense initiative (which was one of Reagan's pet projects), Gorbachev cleared the way for negotiations, and he and Reagan agreed to meet again.

Gorbachev's change of mind was the result of a number of factors. His own nation was suffering from serious economic problems and Gorbachev desperately wanted to cut Russia's military spending. In addition, the growing "no-nukes" movement in Europe was interfering with his ability to conduct diplomatic relations with France, Great Britain, and other western European nations. Finally, Gorbachev seemed to have a sincere personal trust in and friendship with Ronald Reagan, and this feeling was apparently reciprocal. In December 1987, during a summit in Washington, the two men signed off on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons.
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Jul 22, 1923:
Dillinger joins the Navy in an attempt to avoid prosecution



John Herbert Dillinger joins the Navy in order to avoid charges of auto theft in Indiana, marking the beginning of America's most notorious criminal's downfall. Years later, Dillinger's reputation was forged in a single 12-month period, during which he robbed more banks than Jesse James did in 15 years and became the most wanted fugitive in the nation.

Dillinger didn't last in the Navy very long. Within months he had gone AWOL several times–the last time in December 1923. Making his way back to Indiana, he was arrested for armed robbery the following summer. Dillinger pled guilty, thinking that he would receive a light sentence, but instead got 10 to 20 years. His first words to the warden at the prison were, "I won't cause you any trouble except to escape." A man of his word, Dillinger had attempted to escape three times by the end of the year.

Between escape attempts, Dillinger became friendly with some of the more professional thieves in the prison. After he was finally paroled in May 1933, Dillinger hooked up with his new friends and began robbing banks throughout the Midwest. He also began planning to break his friends out of prison. In September, he smuggled guns in to Harry Pierpont, who led a 10-man break from the Michigan City prison.

In 1933, Dillinger's assistance turned out to be fortuitous because as his friends were breaking out, Dillinger himself was captured and arrested for bank robbery in Dayton, Ohio, and then imprisoned in Lima, Ohio. Pierpont and the others returned the favor and broke Dillinger out in October, killing a sheriff in the process. The gang was now in full force. A week later, they raided a police arsenal in Peru, Indiana. The arrogant bandits pretended to be tourists who wanted to see what weapons the police were going to use to capture the Dillinger gang.

Given the remarkable string of armed robberies and acts of violence in such a short period of time, police departments throughout the Midwest set up special units to capture Dillinger. Ironically, his eventual arrest was the result of pure luck. While hiding out in Tucson, Arizona, Dillinger was caught in a fire that broke out in his hotel. Firefighters became suspicious when they were offered a large sum of money to save two heavy suitcases. When they found a small arsenal of guns inside, those involved, including Dillinger, were taken into custody.

Dillinger was extradited to Indiana and held in what was believed to be an escape-proof jail, with extra guards posted to protect against outside attacks. But on March 3, 1934, Dillinger used a fake pistol that he had carved out of wood and painted black to escape. For the next several months, Dillinger and his gang went on a bank-robbing spree with the FBI one step behind at all times. J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the FBI, reportedly put out an order that agents should shoot Dillinger on sight. An immigrant named Anna Sage offered to set the outlaw up if deportation proceedings against her for operating a brothel were dropped. On July 22, 1934, detective Martin Zarkovich shot a man identified by the FBI as Dillinger as he was leaving the Biograph Theater in Chicago, Illinois.

Some historians believe that the man killed that day was not Dillinger, and that Dillinger may have engineered the setup to drop out of sight. If so, he was successful–no further record of Dillinger exists.
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Jul 22, 1991:
Cannibal and serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer is caught



Milwaukee, Wisconsin, police officers spot Tracy Edwards running down the street in handcuffs, and upon investigation, they find one of the grisliest scenes in modern history-Jeffrey Dahmer's apartment.

Edwards told the police that Dahmer had held him at his apartment and threatened to kill him. Although they initially thought the story was dubious, the officers took Edwards back to Dahmer's apartment. Dahmer calmly explained that the whole matter was simply a misunderstanding and the officers almost believed him. However, they spotted a few Polaroid photos of dismembered bodies, and Dahmer was arrested.

When Dahmer's apartment was fully searched, a house of horrors was revealed. In addition to photo albums full of pictures of body parts, the apartment was littered with human remains: Several heads were in the refrigerator and freezer; two skulls were on top of the computer; and a 57-gallon drum containing several bodies decomposing in chemicals was found in a corner of the bedroom. There was also evidence to suggest that Dahmer had been eating some of his victims.

Neighbors told both detectives and the press that they had noticed an awful smell emanating from the apartment but that Dahmer had explained it away as expired meat. However, the most shocking revelation about how Dahmer had managed to conceal his awful crimes in the middle of a city apartment building would come a few days later.

Apparently, police had been called two months earlier about a naked and bleeding 14-year-old boy being chased down an alley by Dahmer. The responding officers actually returned the boy, who had been drugged, to Dahmer's apartment–where he was promptly killed. The officers, who said that they believed it to be a domestic dispute, were later fired.

A forensic examination of the apartment turned up 11 victims–the first of whom disappeared in March 1989, just two months before Dahmer successfully escaped a prison sentence for child molestation by telling the judge that he was desperately seeking to change his conduct. Dahmer later confessed to 17 murders in all, dating back to his first victim in 1978.

The jury rejected Dahmer's insanity defense, and he was sentenced to 15 life terms. He survived one attempt on his life in July 1994, but was killed by another inmate on November 28, 1994.
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Jul 22, 1862:
Lincoln tells his cabinet about Emancipation Proclamation



On this day in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln informs his chief advisors and cabinet that he will issue a proclamation to free slaves, but adds that he will wait until the Union Army has achieved a substantial military victory to make the announcement.

Attempting to stitch together a nation mired in a bloody civil war, Abraham Lincoln made a last-ditch, but carefully calculated, executive decision regarding the institution of slavery in America. At the time of the meeting with his cabinet, things were not looking good for the Union. The Confederate Army had overcome Union troops in significant battles and Britain and France were set to officially recognize the Confederacy as a separate nation.

The issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation had less to do with ending slavery than saving the crumbling union. In an August 1862 letter to New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley, Lincoln confessed "my paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and it is not either to save or to destroy slavery." He hoped a strong statement declaring a national policy of emancipation would stimulate a rush of the South's slaves into the ranks of the Union Army, thus depleting the Confederacy's labor force, on which it depended to wage war against the North.

As promised, Lincoln waited to unveil the proclamation until he could do so on the heels of a successful Union military advance. On September 22, 1862, after a victory at Antietam, he publicly announced a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, declaring all slaves free in the rebellious states as of January 1, 1863. Lincoln and his advisors limited the proclamation's language to slavery in states outside of federal control as of 1862. The proclamation did not, however, address the contentious issue of slavery within the nation's border states. In his attempt to appease all parties, Lincoln left many loopholes open that civil rights advocates would be forced to tackle in the future.
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Duke of Buckingham
07-23-12, 06:27 AM
Jul 23, 1984:
Miss America resigns

On this day in 1984, 21-year-old Vanessa Williams gives up her Miss America title, the first resignation in the pageant's history, after Penthouse magazine announces plans to publish nude photos of the beauty queen in its September issue. Williams originally made history on September 17, 1983, when she became the first black woman to win the Miss America crown. Miss New Jersey, Suzette Charles, the first runner-up and also an African American, assumed Williams' tiara for the two months that remained of her reign.

Vanessa Lynn Williams was born March 18, 1963, in Millwood, New York, to music teacher parents. She attended Syracuse University and studied musical theater. In 1982, while working a summer job as a receptionist at a modeling agency in Mt. Kisco, New York, photographer Thomas Chiapel took the nude pictures of Williams, telling her they'd be shot in silhouette and that she wouldn't be recognizable. After Williams became Miss America, the photographer sold the pictures to Penthouse without her knowledge. Williams later dropped lawsuits against the magazine and photographer after it was learned that she had signed a model release form at the time the photos were taken.

The Miss America pageant, which prides itself on projecting a wholesome, positive image of women, began in 1921 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, as a stunt developed by local businessmen to extend the summer tourist season. In 1945, the Miss America Organization handed out its first scholarship. Today, it provides over $45 million each year in cash and tuition assistance to contestants on the national, state and local levels. In 1954, the competition was broadcast live for the first time. Beginning in the 1980s, contestants were required to have a social platform, such as drunk-driving prevention or AIDS awareness, and Miss America winners now travel an estimated 20,000 miles a month for speaking engagements and public appearances. In 2006, following a decline in TV ratings, the pageant moved from Atlantic City for the first time in its history and took place in Las Vegas, where a new Miss America was crowned in January instead of September.

Vanessa Williams rebounded from the Miss America scandal and went on to a successful entertainment career as an actress and recording artist, performing on Broadway as well as in movies and television and releasing a number of popular albums.
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Jul 23, 2007:
Honda produces 6 millionth Civic in North America

During the week ending on July 23, 2007, Honda Motor Company Ltd. produces its 6 millionth Civic in North America, according to an article in Automotive News.

Honda's history goes back to 1946, when the engineer Honda Soichiro founded his namesake technical research institute near Hamamatsu in order to produce internal-combustion engines. Incorporated as Honda Motor Company two years later and headquartered in Tokyo, it began producing motorcycles in 1949 and later expanded to automobiles. The first-generation Honda Civic, a subcompact, two-door model, made its debut in July 1972, followed by a three-door version that September. As suggested by its name, Honda saw the Civic as its car for the people; in this way, it was similar to the original "people's car," the Volkswagen Beetle. The Civic was an immediate success in its home country, winning Japan's Car of the Year award for three consecutive years in 1972, 1973 and 1974. Honda began exporting the car to the United States in 1972, and to Canada the following year. In the latter nation, the Civic became the best-selling import car for 28 consecutive months from 1976 to 1978.

The small, fuel-efficient Civic arrived at an opportune time, as the 1972 oil crisis had thrown a wrench in the existing American car market, with its emphasis on big, powerful, gas-guzzling vehicles. Beginning in the 1980s, Honda made the localization of the Civic's production in America a cornerstone of its efforts to expand its U.S. business overall. Honda had begun operations in the United States in 1959 with the establishment of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., the automaker's first overseas subsidiary. In 1986, Honda began making the Civic (it had already started production of the mid-size Accord) at its plant in Marysville, Ohio. The following year, Honda built a second U.S. plant in East Liberty, Ohio, in 1989; its production was largely focused on the Civic.

In 2002, Honda added the Civic to its gasoline-electric hybrid lineup, which began with the Insight in 1999. Within a year, hybrid Civics accounted for some 10 percent of the car's total sales. By July 2007, when the 6 millionth North American Civic rolled off the line, Honda was operating 12 manufacturing plants and employed more than 30,000 people in North America; more than 75 percent of all Honda and Acura (the automaker's higher-end brand) vehicles sold there were produced and assembled locally. In May 2008, on the brink of a growing economic crisis that would send the automotive industry reeling, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., announced that Civic sales that month (53,299) had shattered the previous monthly record for any car in its lineup.
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Jul 23, 1962:
An accord on Laos is reached

Avoiding a Cold War showdown, the United States and the Soviet Union sign an agreement guaranteeing a free and neutral Laos. While the agreement ended the "official" roles of both nations in the Laotian civil war, covert assistance from both Russia and the United States continued to exacerbate the conflict in Laos for the next decade.

Laos had been a French colony since 1893. During the 1930s and World War II, an independence movement began to grow in the small nation, as did a communist movement known as the Pathet Lao. After France granted Laos conditional independence in 1949, the Pathet Lao began a civil war against the pro-French Laotian government. In 1954, after the devastating defeat of French troops at the hands of Vietnamese independence forces at the battle of Dien Bien Phu, an international conference attempted to deal with the situations in Southeast Asia. The 1954 Laos decision stated that the Pathet Lao would be confined to two remote provinces of Laos, and that national elections would be held in two years to settle all political questions. In fact, the conference did nothing to stop the civil war in Laos. The Pathet Lao, largely funded and armed with Russian money and weapons funneled through communist North Vietnam, continued its attacks. In response, the U.S. became heavily involved in providing covert assistance to the Laotian government.

Despite the U.S. assistance, the communist Pathet Lao appeared on its way to victory by 1961. President John F. Kennedy issued a thinly veiled threat of direct U.S. intervention in Laos if the Soviet Union did not cease its assistance to the communist revolutionaries. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, perhaps realizing that the stakes were becoming much too high in a nation of only peripheral interest to Russia, agreed to a cease-fire in April 1961. At a conference in Geneva in July 1962, the United States and Russia agreed to mutually guarantee a free and neutral Laos.

The 1962 agreement also accomplished very little. American intelligence sources indicated that North Vietnam continued to funnel large amounts of Soviet aid into Laos. In response, the United States began a "secret war," using the CIA to arm and train an anticommunist force in Laos. In a matter of months, more than 30,000 Laotians, mostly from remote hill tribes, were being used to carry out guerrilla operations against the Pathet Lao. The U.S. operation was unsuccessful, however. In 1975, shortly after victory of communist North Vietnam over South Vietnam, the Pathet Lao took control in Laos, where a communist government continues to be in power to this day.
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Jul 23, 1918:
A string of mysterious deaths surrounds a Nebraska woman

Della Sorenson kills the first of her seven victims in rural Nebraska by poisoning her sister-in-law's infant daughter, Viola Cooper. Over the next seven years, friends, relatives, and acquaintances of Sorenson repeatedly died under mysterious circumstances before anyone finally realized that it had to be more than a coincidence.

Two years after little Viola met her demise, Wilhelmina Weldam, Sorenson's mother-in-law, was poisoned. Sorenson then went after her own family, killing her daughter, Minnie, and husband, Joe, over a two-week period in September.

Waiting only four months before marrying again, Sorenson then settled in Dannebrog, Neb. In August 1922, her former sister-in-law came to visit with another infant, four-month-old Clifford. Just as she had done with Viola, Sorenson poisoned the poor child with a piece of candy. The unfortunate Mrs. Cooper, still oblivious to what was happening, came back again in October to visit with yet another child. This time, Sorenson's poison didn't work.

Early in 1923, Sorenson killed her own daughter, Delia, on her first birthday. When Sorenson's friend brought her infant daughter for a visit only a week later, the tiny infant was also poisoned. After an attempt on Sorenson's second husband's life left him sick--but not dead--authorities began to think that there might be a connection between these series of deaths.

Finally, in 1925, Sorenson was arrested when she made an unsuccessful attempt at killing two children in the neighborhood with poisoned cookies. She confessed to the crimes, saying, "I like to attend funerals. I'm happy when someone is dying." Sentiments like this convinced doctors that Sorenson was schizophrenic, and she was committed to the state mental asylum.
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Jul 23, 1952:
Military seizes power in Egypt

In Egypt, the Society of Free Officers seizes control of the government in a military coup d'etat staged by Colonel Gamal Abdal Nasser's Free Officers. King Farouk, whose rule had been criticized for its corruption and failures in the first Arab-Israeli war, was forced to abdicate and relinquish power to General Muhammad Naguib, the figurehead leader of the coup.

The revolutionaries redistributed land, tried politicians for corruption, and in 1953 abolished the monarchy. In 1954, Nasser emerged from behind the scenes, removed Naguib from power, and proclaimed himself prime minister of Egypt. For the next two years, Nasser ruled as an effective and popular leader and promulgated a new constitution that made Egypt a socialist Arab state, consciously nonaligned with the prevalent communist and democratic-capitalist systems of the Cold War world. In 1956, he was elected, unopposed, to the new office of president. He died still in office in 1970 from a heart attack. Nasser was a consistently popular and influential leader during his many years in power.
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Jul 23, 1988:
Guns N' Roses make popular breakthrough with "Sweet Child O' Mine"

In the 1980s, Los Angeles was a mecca for so-called "glam rock" bands and the "sex, drugs and rock and roll" lifestyle with which they came to be associated. On any given night inside clubs like the Troubadour and the Whisky a Go Go, you could not only hear bands like Hanoi Rocks and Mötley Crüe or, later, Winger and Warrant, but you could also witness an expression of that lifestyle as decadent as any the music world had seen. The rise of "grunge" bands like Nirvana and alternative rock effectively put an end to that scene in the early 1990s, but the first blow was struck by one of their own: Guns N' Roses, the band that made its big popular breakthrough on July 23, 1988, when their first hit single, "Sweet Child O' Mine" entered the Billboard Top 40.

To the guys in pop-metal groups like Poison, Guns N' Roses might have seemed at first to be just another fellow hair band, but Axl Rose and the rest of the classic GN'R lineup—Slash, Izzy Stradlin, Duff McKagan and Steven Adler—were interested in rock and roll that was much more raw, angry and honest than what the pop-metal bands were playing. Originally formed out of the ashes of two other groups—L.A. Guns and Hollywood Rose—Guns N' Roses played in a style that owed much more to the pure hard rock of the 1970s than to the showy heavy metal of the 1980s. Signed to Geffen in 1986, GN'R released their first full-length album, Appetite For Destruction, the following summer, and with it their debut single, "Welcome To The Jungle." Appetite For Destruction would eventually be certified 15-times Platinum, and "Welcome To The Jungle" would become a massively popular Top 10 hit, but neither the album nor its first single was an immediate success. It took nearly a year of touring and the release of a second single, "Sweet Child O' Mine," to earn Guns N' Roses a place in music history.

Built around an opening riff that GN'R guitarist Slash considered a silly throwaway, "Sweet Child O' Mine" went on to become not just a #1 hit on this day in 1988, but also a true rock classic. Voted onto "greatest" lists by Rolling Stone, Blender, the RIAA, BBC and the like, "Sweet Child O' Mine" made stars out of Guns N' Roses, and it made so-called "power ballads" like Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" seem weak by comparison.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1w7OgIMMRc4

Duke of Buckingham
07-24-12, 06:08 AM
Jul 24, 1911:
Machu Picchu discovered



On July 24, 1911, American archeologist Hiram Bingham gets his first look at Machu Picchu, an ancient Inca settlement in Peru that is now one of the world's top tourist destinations.

Tucked away in the rocky countryside northwest of Cuzco, Machu Picchu is believed to have been a summer retreat for Inca leaders, whose civilization was virtually wiped out by Spanish invaders in the 16th century. For hundreds of years afterwards, its existence was a secret known only to the peasants living in the region. That all changed in the summer of 1911, when Bingham arrived with a small team of explorers to search for the famous "lost" cities of the Incas.

Traveling on foot and by mule, Bingham and his team made their way from Cuzco into the Urubamba Valley, where a local farmer told them of some ruins located at the top of a nearby mountain. The farmer called the mountain Machu Picchu, which meant "Old Peak" in the native Quechua language. The next day--July 24--after a tough climb to the mountain's ridge in cold and drizzly weather, Bingham met a small group of peasants who showed him the rest of the way. Led by an 11-year-old boy, Bingham got his first glimpse of the intricate network of stone terraces marking the entrance to Machu Picchu.

The excited Bingham spread the word about his discovery in a best-selling book, sending hordes of eager tourists flocking to Peru to follow in his footsteps up the Inca trail. The site itself stretches an impressive five miles, with over 3,000 stone steps linking its many different levels. Today, more than 300,000 people tramp through Machu Picchu every year, braving crowds and landslides to see the sun set over the towering stone monuments of the "Sacred City" and marvel at the mysterious splendor of one of the world's most famous man-made wonders.
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Jul 24, 1998:
Bidding starts on South Korea's Kia Motors Corp.



On this day in 1998, South Korea's government opens the bidding for the Kia Motors Corporation, the country's third-largest car company, which went bankrupt during an economic crisis that gripped much of Asia.

Founded on the outskirts of Seoul in 1944, Kia began as a small manufacturer of steel tubing and bicycle parts. The name of the company was derived from the Chinese characters "ki" (meaning "to arise" or "to come out of") and "a" (which stood for Asia). By the late 1950s, Kia had branched out from bicycles to motor scooters, and in the early 1970s the company launched into automobile production. Kia's Sohari plant, completed by 1973, was Korea's first fully integrated automobile production facility; it rolled out the Brisa, the country's first passenger car, in 1974.

Kia's lineup by the late 1980s included the Concord, Capital, Potentia and Pride. Ford Motor Company brought the Pride to the United States, calling it the Ford Festiva; the company later sold the Kia Avella as the Ford Aspire. In the 1990s, Kia began selling cars in the United States under its own name, beginning with the Sephia. At first available in only a few states, Kia gradually rolled out across the country, jumping on the success of the sport-utility-vehicle (SUV) category in the mid-1990s with its Sportage, released in 1995.

By 1997, Kia was struggling financially, and that July it collapsed under $10 billion worth of debt. The automaker's failure marked the beginning of a full-blown economic crisis that eventually led South Korea to seek a record international bailout of some $57 billion. Auto sales plummeted nationwide, and by the time bidding for Kia opened in late July 1998, both Hyundai Motor and Daewoo Motor, South Korea's largest and second-largest automakers respectively, had suffered heavy losses as well. The two companies placed bids for Kia and its commercial-vehicle subsidiary, Asia Motors; the other bidders included another local company, Samsung, and Ford Motor, which along with its subsidiary Mazda already owned nearly 17 percent of Kia.

Hyundai managed to win the auction that October, having offered the highest bid; Daewoo was the runner-up. As a subsidiary of Hyundai, Kia made improvements in its cars' quality as well as their reliability, including the introduction of a new warranty program in 2001. It also began concentrating intently on the European market, building a sleek new $109 million design center in Frankfurt, Germany, in early 2008. At the Paris Motor Show that fall, Kia unveiled its new Soul, a subcompact mini multi-purpose-vehicle (MPV). Designed jointly by studios in California and South Korea, the Soul debuted on the global marketplace in early 2009.
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Jul 24, 1959:
Nixon and Khrushchev have a "kitchen debate"



During the grand opening ceremony of the American National Exhibition in Moscow, Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev engage in a heated debate about capitalism and communism in the middle of a model kitchen set up for the fair. The so-called "kitchen debate" became one of the most famous episodes of the Cold War.

In late 1958, the Soviet Union and the United States agreed to set up national exhibitions in each other's nation as part of their new emphasis on cultural exchanges. The Soviet exhibition opened in New York City in June 1959; the U.S. exhibition opened in Sokolniki Park in Moscow in July. On July 24, before the Moscow exhibition was officially opened to the public, Vice President Nixon served as a host for a visit by Soviet leader Khrushchev. As Nixon led Khrushchev through the American exhibition, the Soviet leader's famous temper began to flare. When Nixon demonstrated some new American color television sets, Khrushchev launched into an attack on the so-called "Captive Nations Resolution" passed by the U.S. Congress just days before. The resolution condemned the Soviet control of the "captive" peoples of Eastern Europe and asked all Americans to pray for their deliverance. After denouncing the resolution, Khrushchev then sneered at the U.S. technology on display, proclaiming that the Soviet Union would have the same sort of gadgets and appliances within a few years. Nixon, never one to shy away from a debate, goaded Khrushchev by stating that the Russian leader should "not be afraid of ideas. After all, you don't know everything." The Soviet leader snapped at Nixon, "You don't know anything about communism--except fear of it."

With a small army of reporters and photographers following them, Nixon and Khrushchev continued their argument in the kitchen of a model home built in the exhibition. With their voices rising and fingers pointing, the two men went at each other. Nixon suggested that Khrushchev's constant threats of using nuclear missiles could lead to war, and he chided the Soviet for constantly interrupting him while he was speaking. Taking these words as a threat, Khrushchev warned of "very bad consequences." Perhaps feeling that the exchange had gone too far, the Soviet leader then noted that he simply wanted "peace with all other nations, especially America." Nixon rather sheepishly stated that he had not "been a very good host."

The "kitchen debate" was front-page news in the United States the next day. For a few moments, in the confines of a "modern" kitchen, the diplomatic gloves had come off and America and the Soviet Union had verbally jousted over which system was superior--communism or capitalism. As with so many Cold War battles, however, there was no clear winner--except perhaps for the U.S. media, which had a field day with the dramatic encounter.
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Jul 24, 1915:
Hundreds drown in Eastland disaster



On this day in 1915, the steamer Eastland overturns in the Chicago River, drowning between 800 and 850 of its passengers who were heading to a picnic. The disaster was caused by serious problems with the boat's design, which were known but never remedied.

The Eastland was owned by the St. Joseph-Chicago Steamship Company and made money ferrying people from Chicago to picnic sites on the shores of Lake Michigan. When the Eastland was launched in 1903, it was designed to carry 650 passengers, but major construction and retrofitting in 1913 supposedly allowed the boat to carry 2,500 people. That same year, a naval architect presciently told officials that the boat needed work, stating unless structural defects are remedied to prevent listing, there may be a serious accident.

On July 24, employees of Western Electric Company were heading to an annual picnic. About 7,300 people arrived at 6 a.m. at the dock between LaSalle and Clark streets to be carried out to the site by five steamers. While bands played, much of the crowd—perhaps even more than the 2,500 people allowed—boarded the Eastland. Some reports indicate that the crowd may also have all gathered on one side of the boat to pose for a photographer, thus creating an imbalance on the boat. In any case, engineer Joseph Erikson opened one of the ballast tanks, which holds water within the boat and stabilizes the ship, and the Eastland began tipping precariously.

Some claim that the crew of the boat jumped back to the dock when they realized what was happening. What is known for sure is that the Eastland capsized right next to the dock, trapping hundreds of people on or underneath the large ship. Rescuers quickly attempted to cut through the hull with torches, allowing them to pull out 40 people alive. More than 800 others perished. Police divers pulled up body after body, causing one diver to break down in a rage. The city sent workers out with a large net to prevent bodies from washing out into the lake. Twenty-two entire families died in the tragedy.

Most of the corpses were taken to the Second Regiment Armory, which is now home to Harpo Studios and The Oprah Winfrey Show. Some of the show's employees have claimed that the studio is haunted by ghosts of the Eastland disaster.

The Eastland was pulled up from the river, renamed the Willimette and converted into a naval vessel. It was turned into scrap following World War II. All lawsuits against the owners of the Eastland were thrown out by a court of appeals and the exact cause of the tipping and subsequent disaster has never been determined.
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Jul 24, 1969:
Kennedy's goal accomplished



At 12:51 EDT, Apollo 11, the U.S. spacecraft that had taken the first astronauts to the surface of the moon, safely returns to Earth.

The American effort to send astronauts to the moon had its origins in a famous appeal President John F. Kennedy made to a special joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961: "I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth."

Eight years later, on July 16, 1969, the world watched as Apollo 11 took off from Kennedy Space Center with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin Jr., and Michael Collins aboard. After traveling 240,000 miles in 76 hours, Apollo 11 entered into a lunar orbit on July 19. The next day, at 1:46 p.m., the lunar module Eagle, manned by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, separated from the command module, where a third astronaut, Michael Collins, remained. Two hours later, the Eagle began its descent to the lunar surface, and at 4:18 p.m. the craft touched down on the southwestern edge of the Sea of Tranquility.

Armstrong immediately radioed to Mission Control in Houston a famous message: "The Eagle has landed." At 10:39 p.m., five hours ahead of the original schedule, Armstrong opened the hatch of the lunar module. Seventeen minutes later, at 10:56 p.m., Armstrong spoke the following words to millions listening at home: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." A moment later, he stepped off the lunar module's ladder, becoming the first human to walk on the surface of the moon.

Aldrin joined him on the moon's surface at 11:11 p.m., and together they took photographs of the terrain, planted a U.S. flag, ran a few simple scientific tests, and spoke with President Richard M. Nixon via Houston. By 1:11 a.m. on July 21, both astronauts were back in the lunar module and the hatch was closed. The two men slept that night on the surface of the moon, and at 1:54 p.m. the Eagle began its ascent back to the command module. Among the items left on the surface of the moon was a plaque that read: "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the moon--July 1969 A.D--We came in peace for all mankind." At 5:35 p.m., Armstrong and Aldrin successfully docked and rejoined Collins, and at 12:56 a.m. on July 22 Apollo 11 began its journey home, safely splashing down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:51 p.m. on July 24.

There would be five more successful lunar landing missions, and one unplanned lunar swing-by, Apollo 13. The last men to walk on the moon, astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt of the Apollo 17 mission, left the lunar surface on December 14, 1972.
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Jul 24, 2005:
Lance Armstrong wins seventh Tour de France

On this day in 2005, legendary American cyclist Lance Armstrong wins a record-setting seventh consecutive Tour de France and retires from the sport. After surviving testicular cancer, his rise to cycling greatness inspired cancer patients and fans around the world and significantly boosted his sport’s popularity in his native United States.

Lance Armstrong was born on September 18, 1971, in Plano, Texas. He began his sports career as a triathlete, competing professionally by the time he was 16 years old. Biking proved to be his strongest event of the three, and at the age of 17, he was invited to train with the U.S. Olympic cycling developmental team in Colorado. He won the U.S. amateur cycling championship two years later, in 1991. The next year, he finished 14th in the road race competition at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. He turned pro later that year, but finished last in the Classico San Sebastian, his first race as a professional. In 1993, he bounced back to win 10 titles, including his first major race, the World Road Championships. He also competed in his first Tour de France that year, winning the eighth stage. In 1995, he again won a stage of the Tour de France, as well as the Tour DuPont, a major U.S. cycling event.

Armstrong began 1996 as the number-one-ranked cyclist in the world, but he chose not to race the Tour de France and performed poorly at that year’s Olympics. After experiencing intense pain during a training ride, he saw a doctor. On October 2, 1996, he was diagnosed with advanced testicular cancer, which had already spread to his lungs and brain. Doctors gave him less than a 50 percent chance of survival. After undergoing surgery to remove his right testicle, he underwent two more dangerous operations to remove cancerous tissue from his brain. He then chose to undergo a severe course of chemotherapy because the standard course would likely have left him with lung damage that would have ended his cycling career.

Slowly the treatment worked, and, with his cancer in remission, Armstrong began training again. After some difficulty finding a sponsor, he eventually signed with the brand-new United States Postal Service team. After he quit in the middle of one of his first races back, many thought his career was over. But after taking some time off from competition, Armstrong came back to finish in the top five at both the Tour of Spain and the World Championships in 1998. The next year, to the amazement of the cycling community, he won his first-ever Tour de France and went on to win the race for the next six consecutive years. In addition to his seven overall wins (a record for both total and consecutive wins), he won 22 individual stages, 11 individual time trials, and led his team to victories in three team time trials between 1999 and 2005. His last win, on this day in 2005, was made with the Discovery Channel team (the Discovery Channel took over his team’s sponsorship when the United States Postal Service ended their support after the 2004 Tour de France).

Over the years, Armstrong’s intense training regimen and his famed dominance in the difficult and treacherous mountain stages of the Tour de France have inspired awe and intimidation among both fans and opponents. His cycling cadence, which averaged 95 to 100 rotations per minute (rpm), but reached as high as 120 rpm, was remarkable and faster than most of his competitors, especially while climbing. In addition to being an exceptionally talented climber, Armstrong traditionally performed extremely well in time trials, a rare combination in the sport. He also took pains to surround himself with a well-rounded team, experienced coaches, and the best available cycling technology. Armstrong, like many top cyclists, has been continuously dogged by allegations of performance-enhancing drug use, but has repeatedly and strenuously denied all such charges.

Since his retirement in July 2005, Armstrong has continued to speak out on the importance of cancer research and has worked at raising funds for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, an organization he founded soon after his diagnosis that provides support for people living with cancer. The Foundation's sale of simple yellow rubber bracelets, imprinted with the slogan "LIVESTRONG," raised millions to fund their mission. Armstrong is also a best-selling author. He has three children with ex-wife Kristin: Luke, who was born in October 1999, and twins Isabelle and Grace, who were born in November 2001. He lives in Austin, Texas.
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Duke of Buckingham
07-25-12, 03:43 PM
Jul 25, 1978:
World's first "test tube baby" born

On this day in 1978, Louise Joy Brown, the world's first baby to be conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF) is born at Oldham and District General Hospital in Manchester, England, to parents Lesley and Peter Brown. The healthy baby was delivered shortly before midnight by caesarean section and weighed in at five pounds, 12 ounces.

Before giving birth to Louise, Lesley Brown had suffered years of infertility due to blocked fallopian tubes. In November 1977, she underwent the then-experimental IVF procedure. A mature egg was removed from one of her ovaries and combined in a laboratory dish with her husband’s sperm to form an embryo. The embryo then was implanted into her uterus a few days later. Her IVF doctors, British gynecologist Patrick Steptoe and scientist Robert Edwards, had begun their pioneering collaboration a decade earlier. Once the media learned of the pregnancy, the Browns faced intense public scrutiny. Louise’s birth made headlines around the world and raised various legal and ethical questions.

The Browns had a second daughter, Natalie, several years later, also through IVF. In May 1999, Natalie became the first IVF baby to give birth to a child of her own. The child’s conception was natural, easing some concerns that female IVF babies would be unable to get pregnant naturally. In December 2006, Louise Brown, the original "test tube baby," gave birth to a boy, Cameron John Mullinder, who also was conceived naturally.

Today, IVF is considered a mainstream medical treatment for infertility. Hundreds of thousands of children around the world have been conceived through the procedure, in some cases with donor eggs and sperm.
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Jul 25, 1941:
Henry Ford writes fan letter to Mahatma Gandhi

On this day in 1941, the American automaker Henry Ford sits down at his desk in Dearborn, Michigan and writes a letter to the Indian nationalist leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The letter effusively praises Gandhi and his campaign of civil disobedience aimed at forcing the British colonial government out of India.

By July of 1941, Ford's pacifist views led him to despair at the current global situation: Nazi Germany had invaded Poland, causing Britain and France to declare war against it. The United States, led by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was firmly on the side of the Allies, but Ford was convinced that the country should remain neutral, despite mounting pressure from the government for his company to start mass-producing airplanes to help defeat the Nazis. The previous May, Ford had reluctantly bowed to this pressure, opening a massive production facility for airplane production at Willow Run, near Dearborn, to manufacture B-24E Liberator bombers for the Allied war effort.

As Douglas Brinkley writes in "Wheels for the World," his history of Ford Motor Company, the automaker disliked imperialism and was hopeful that Gandhi's campaign would succeed in pushing the British out of India and establishing Indian home rule. In addition, Ford Motor Company had long enjoyed healthy sales in the cities of Bombay (now Mumbai) and Calcutta. Ford's letter to Gandhi, now included in the Henry Ford Museum and Library, read: "I want to take this opportunity of sending you a message...to tell you how deeply I admire your life and message. You are one of the greatest men the world has ever known."

The letter was sent to the Mahatma (as Gandhi was known) via T.A. Raman, the London editor of the United Press of India. According to Raman, Brinkley recounts, Gandhi didn't receive the letter until December 8, 1941--the day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Greatly pleased, he sent in response a portable spinning wheel, one of the old-fashioned devices that Gandhi famously used to produce his own cloth. The wheel, autographed in Hindi and English, was shipped some 12,000 miles and personally delivered to Ford by Raman in Greenfield Village, Michigan. Ford kept it as a good luck charm, as well as a symbol of the principles of simplicity and economic independence that both he and Gandhi championed.
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Jul 25, 1988:
A young man turns the death of his parents into a game

Police responding to an emergency call in Washington, North Carolina, find Lieth and Bonnie Von Stein stabbed and beaten in their home. Lieth was dead, but Bonnie, barely clinging to life, somehow survived. Angela, Bonnie's 18-year-old daughter, was found in the next room; she said that she had slept through the brutal attack.

Investigators were immediately distrustful of the crime scene, which appeared to have been staged as though to suggest a robbery. Detectives caught a lucky break when a hog farmer happened to spot a fire in the woods around the time of the murder. A hunting knife, some clothing, and a scrap of paper with a map of the Von Stein's neighborhood were recovered from the remains of the fire.

Detectives assigned to the case learned that Lieth had had a poor relationship with his two stepchildren, Angela and her older brother, Chris, both of whom were known drug users. The police also found out that Lieth had inherited over a million dollars shortly before he was killed. As the investigation dragged on into 1989, police turned their attention to Chris, who refused to take a polygraph test (which his mother and sister had passed).

A devotee of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, Chris often vented his frustration to his fellow players at North Carolina State University. Reportedly, Chris was bitter toward his stepfather for not spending more of the inheritance on him. When pressured, some of Chris' friends revealed that James Upchurch and Neal Henderson, other D&D players on campus, may have been involved in some sort of plot with Chris.

After turning Henderson, who accompanied Upchurch to the Von Stein home, into a state witness, prosecutors persuaded Chris to plead guilty to aiding and abetting the murder. Chris testified that he had supplied a key and the map to the house where Upchurch had killed Lieth Von Stein. Although Henderson's testimony was not entirely compatible, and there was no physical evidence tying him to the murder, Upchurch was convicted of murder in 1990 and sentenced to death.


Jul 25, 2000:
Concorde jet crashes

An Air France Concorde jet crashes upon takeoff in Paris on this day in 2000, killing everyone onboard as well as four people on the ground. The Concorde, the world's fastest commercial jet, had enjoyed an exemplary safety record up to that point, with no crashes in the plane's 31-year history.

Air France Flight 4590 left DeGaulle Airport for New York carrying nine crew members and 96 German tourists who were planning to take a cruise to Ecuador. Almost immediately after takeoff, however, the plane plunged to the ground near a hotel in Gonesse, France. A huge fireball erupted and all 105 people on the plane were killed immediately.

The Concorde fleet was grounded in the wake of this disaster while the cause was investigated. The Concorde, powered by four Rolls Royce turbojets, was able to cross the Atlantic Ocean in less than three-and-a-half hours, reaching speeds of 1,350 miles per hour, which is more than twice the speed of sound. The July 25 incident, though, was not related to the Concorde's engine construction or speed.

The investigation revealed that the plane that took off just prior to Flight 4590 had dropped a piece of metal onto the runway. When the Concorde jet ran over it, its tire was shredded and thrown into one of the engines and fuel tanks, causing a disabling fire.

Concorde jets went back into service in November 2001, but a series of minor problems prompted both Air France and British Airways to end Concorde service permanently in October 2003.
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Duke of Buckingham
07-27-12, 05:05 PM
Jul 27, 1974:
House begins impeachment of Nixon


On this day in 1974, the House Judiciary Committee recommends that America's 37th president, Richard M. Nixon, be impeached and removed from office. The impeachment proceedings resulted from a series of political scandals involving the Nixon administration that came to be collectively known as Watergate.

The Watergate scandal first came to light following a break-in on June 17, 1972, at the Democratic Party’s national headquarters in the Watergate apartment-hotel complex in Washington, D.C. A group of men linked to the White House were later arrested and charged with the crime. Nixon denied any involvement with the break-in, but several of his staff members were eventually implicated in an illegal cover-up and forced to resign. Subsequent government investigations revealed "dirty tricks" political campaigning by the Committee to Re-Elect the President, along with a White House "enemies list." In July 1973, one of Nixon’s former staff members revealed the existence of secretly taped conversations between the president and his aides. Nixon initially refused to release the tapes, on grounds of executive privilege and national security, but a judge later ordered the president to turn them over. The White House provided some but not all of the tapes, including one from which a portion of the conversation appeared to have been erased.

In May 1974, the House Judiciary Committee began formal impeachment hearings against Nixon. On July 27 of that year, the first article of impeachment against the president was passed. Two more articles, for abuse of power and contempt of Congress, were approved on July 29 and 30. On August 5, Nixon complied with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling requiring that he provide transcripts of the missing tapes, and the new evidence clearly implicated him in a cover up of the Watergate break-in. On August 8, Nixon announced his resignation, becoming the first president in U.S. history to voluntarily leave office. After departing the White House on August 9, Nixon was succeeded by Vice President Gerald Ford, who, in a controversial move, pardoned Nixon on September 8, 1974, making it impossible for the former president to be prosecuted for any crimes he might have committed while in office. Only two other presidents in U.S. history have been impeached: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998.
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Jul 27, 1990:
Last Citroen 2CV rolls off the line in Portugal


The last Citroen 2CV, known as the "Tin Snail" for its distinctive shape, rolls off the production line at the company's plant in Mangualde, Portugal at four o'clock on the afternoon of July 27, 1990. Since its debut in 1948, a total of 5,114,959 2CVs had been produced worldwide.

The French engineer and industrialist Andre Citroen converted his munitions plant into an automobile company after World War I; beginning in 1919, it was the first automaker to mass-produce cars outside of the United States. As in Germany (the Volkswagen Beetle), Italy (the Fiat 500) and Britain (Austin Mini), the rise of mass car ownership in France in the 1930s led to a demand for a light, economical "people's car," which Citroen answered in the post-World War II years with the 2CV. The company actually began testing the 2CV before the war but kept the project under wraps when war broke out; the original production model was only discovered by chance in the late 1960s. When Citroen finally unveiled the car at the 1948 Paris Motor Show, it was an immediate success: At one point, the waiting time to buy one was five years.

The 2CV ("Deux Chevaux Vapeur" in French, or "two steam horses," a reference to France's policy of taxing cars based on their engine output) was a trailblazer among other small cars of its era. Its innovations included a sophisticated suspension system, front-wheel drive, inboard front brakes, a lightweight, air-cooled engine and a four-speed manual transmission. Its front and rear wings, doors, bonnet, fabric sunroof and trunk lid were all detachable. The 2CV's endearingly unfashionable form joined the Eiffel Tower as a quintessential symbol of France in popular culture. Citroen released a 2CV van in 1951 and a luxury version, the 2CV AZL, in 1956. New models came out over the years, including the 2CV4 and 2CV 6, capable of reaching speeds above 100 kilometers per hour, in 1970; and the popular "Charleston" model in 1981. That same year, Roger Moore--playing the superspy James Bond in "For Your Eyes Only"--drove a bright yellow, high-performance version of the 2CV, evading his pursuers (in Peugeots) in the requisite Bond movie high-speed car chase.

By the late 1980s, however, consumers were no longer wild about the 2CV's quirky, antiquated design. This fact, combined with poor performance according to crash-testing and anti-pollution standards, led to the Tin Snail's demise. In 1988, production moved from France to Portugal, and the last 2CV was produced two years later.
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Jul 27, 1953:
Armistice ends the Korean War


After three years of a bloody and frustrating war, the United States, the People's Republic of China, North Korea, and South Korea agree to an armistice, bringing the Korean War to an end. The armistice ended America's first experiment with the Cold War concept of "limited war."

The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, when communist North Korea invaded South Korea. Almost immediately, the United States secured a resolution from the United Nations calling for the military defense of South Korea against the North Korean aggression. In a matter of days, U.S. land, air, and sea forces had joined the battle. The U.S. intervention turned the tide of the war, and soon the U.S. and South Korean forces were pushing into North Korea and toward that nation's border with China. In November and December 1951, hundreds of thousands of troops from the People's Republic of China began heavy assaults against the American and South Korea forces. The war eventually bogged down into a battle of attrition. In the U.S. presidential election of 1952, Republican candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower strongly criticized President Harry S. Truman's handling of the war. After his victory, Eisenhower adhered to his promise to "go to Korea." His trip convinced him that something new was needed to break the diplomatic logjam at the peace talks that had begun in July 1951. Eisenhower began to publicly hint that the United States might make use of its nuclear arsenal to break the military stalemate in Korea. He allowed the Nationalist Chinese government on Taiwan to begin harassing air raids on mainland China. The president also put pressure on his South Korean ally to drop some of its demands in order to speed the peace process.

Whether or not Eisenhower's threats of nuclear attacks helped, by July 1953 all sides involved in the conflict were ready to sign an agreement ending the bloodshed. The armistice, signed on July 27, established a committee of representatives from neutral countries to decide the fate of the thousands of prisoners of war on both sides. It was eventually decided that the POWs could choose their own fate--stay where they were or return to their homelands. A new border between North and South Korea was drawn, which gave South Korea some additional territory and demilitarized the zone between the two nations. The war cost the lives of millions of Koreans and Chinese, as well as over 50,000 Americans. It had been a frustrating war for Americans, who were used to forcing the unconditional surrender of their enemies. Many also could not understand why the United States had not expanded the war into China or used its nuclear arsenal. As government officials were well aware, however, such actions would likely have prompted World War III.
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Jul 27, 2002:
Fighter jet crashes into crowd at air show


During an air show in Ukraine, a fighter jet crashes into a crowd of spectators on this day in 2002, killing 85 people and injuring hundreds more. This was the worst air-show accident to that date.

Thousands of spectators, including many children, were enjoying themselves on a summer Saturday afternoon at the Skniliv Airfield in Lviv. They came to mark the 60th anniversary of the formation of a local unit of the Ukrainian air force. A Russian Sukhoi SU-27 jet was performing a complicated maneuver just above the ground when it nicked a plane on the tarmac. The jet somersaulted and crashed directly into the crowd. The fiery explosion created a horrific scene. The two pilots, however, managed to eject themselves from the plane before the crash and survived with minor injuries.

The president of Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma, immediately fired the head of the air force, began an investigation into the incident and vowed to end all future air shows. Millions of dollars were set aside to assist the victims and their families. The investigation quickly revealed that the pilots were attempting risky maneuvers that had never before been tried. In addition, there were no safety precautions in place to help the pilots direct the planes away from the crowd below in the event of an emergency.

The previous worst air-show disaster was at the U.S. air base in Ramstein, Germany, where three Italian jets collided and one crashed into the crowd. Seventy people were killed in that disaster.
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Jul 27, 1921:
Insulin isolated in Toronto


At the University of Toronto, Canadian scientists Frederick Banting and Charles Best successfully isolate insulin--a hormone they believe could prevent diabetes--for the first time. Within a year, the first human sufferers of diabetes were receiving insulin treatments, and countless lives were saved from what was previously regarded as a fatal disease.

Diabetes has been recognized as a distinct medical condition for more than 3,000 years, but its exact cause was a mystery until the 20th century. By the early 1920s, many researchers strongly suspected that diabetes was caused by a malfunction in the digestive system related to the pancreas gland, a small organ that sits on top of the liver. At that time, the only way to treat the fatal disease was through a diet low in carbohydrates and sugar and high in fat and protein. Instead of dying shortly after diagnosis, this diet allowed diabetics to live--for about a year.

A breakthrough came at the University of Toronto in the summer of 1921, when Canadians Frederick Banting and Charles Best successfully isolated insulin from canine test subjects, produced diabetic symptoms in the animals, and then began a program of insulin injections that returned the dogs to normalcy. On November 14, the discovery was announced to the world.

Two months later, with the support of J.J.R. MacLeod of the University of Toronto, the two scientists began preparations for an insulin treatment of a human subject. Enlisting the aid of biochemist J.B. Collip, they were able to extract a reasonably pure formula of insulin from the pancreases of cattle from slaughterhouses. On January 23, 1921, they began treating 14-year-old Leonard Thompson with insulin injections. The diabetic teenager improved dramatically, and the University of Toronto immediately gave pharmaceutical companies license to produce insulin, free of royalties. By 1923, insulin had become widely available, and Banting and Macleod were awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine.
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Duke of Buckingham
07-28-12, 07:22 AM
Jul 28, 1868:
14th Amendment adopted


Following its ratification by the necessary three-quarters of U.S. states, the 14th Amendment, guaranteeing to African Americans citizenship and all its privileges, is officially adopted into the U.S. Constitution.

Two years after the Civil War, the Reconstruction Acts of 1867 divided the South into five military districts, where new state governments, based on universal manhood suffrage, were to be established. Thus began the period known as Radical Reconstruction, which saw the 14th Amendment, which had been passed by Congress in 1866, ratified in July 1868. The amendment resolved pre-Civil War questions of African American citizenship by stating that "all persons born or naturalized in the United States...are citizens of the United States and of the state in which they reside." The amendment then reaffirmed the privileges and rights of all citizens, and granted all these citizens the "equal protection of the laws."

In the decades after its adoption, the equal protection clause was cited by a number of African American activists who argued that racial segregation denied them the equal protection of law. However, in 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that states could constitutionally provide segregated facilities for African Americans, so long as they were equal to those afforded white persons. The Plessy v. Ferguson decision, which announced federal toleration of the so-called "separate but equal" doctrine, was eventually used to justify segregating all public facilities, including railroad cars, restaurants, hospitals, and schools. However, "colored" facilities were never equal to their white counterparts, and African Americans suffered through decades of debilitating discrimination in the South and elsewhere. In 1954, Plessy v. Ferguson was finally struck down by the Supreme Court in its ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.
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Jul 28, 1935:
Tazio Nuvolari triumphs over Germans at the Nurburgring


The Italian race car driver Tazio Nuvolari wins the greatest victory of his career in the Grosser Preis von Deutschland (German Grand Prix) held on the Nurburgring racetrack in Nurburg, Germany on this day in 1935.

Known to his fans as "Il Montavano Volante," or the Flying Mantuan, for his home city of Mantua, Nuvolari served as a driver in the Italian army before beginning his career racing motorcycles at the age of 28; he won the Italian championship in that sport in 1924 and 1928. His first major victory in a four-wheeled vehicle came in the 1930 Mille Miglia (Thousand Miles), Italy's most famous automobile road race. Over the course of his career, in addition to racing as part of the Alfa Romeo team (and later the German Auto Union teams), Nuvolari raced as an independent driver in cars constructed by Bugatti, Maserati and MG.

The German Grand Prix of 1935 is remembered as Nuvolari's greatest victory, and arguably one of the most impressive auto racing victories of all time. At the time, German automakers reigned supreme in the world of race car construction, and the "home team" at the Nurburgring that July day consisted of five Mercedes and four German Auto Union vehicles, all of which overpowered Nuvolari's older 330 bhp (brake horsepower is a unit used to measure the power of an engine by the energy needed to brake it) Alfa Romeo. An estimated 250,000 to 300,000 spectators turned up to watch the race on that rainy, foggy July day, and drama broke out from the beginning, when Nuvolari's longtime rival, Achille Varzi, driving for the German Auto Union, hit an auto mechanic working the race.

With one lap left to go, the German driver Manfred von Brauchitsch in his 445 bhp W25 Mercedes Benz--the most powerful car of the day--took a 35-second lead over Nuvolari; the rest of the field, competitive throughout, had fallen behind. Von Brauchitsch's left rear tire was fraying, however, and with Nuvolari in hot pursuit behind him he declined a pit stop: The tire blew, and von Brauchitsch was forced to slow to 40 mph and guide it to the rim of the track. Nuvolari blew past him for the win, to the great chagrin of the Nazi Party officials at the finish line who had already started to raise the flag of the Reich and prepare the celebration.

Though Nuvolari would later race for the German Auto Union himself, that day he broke German hearts in his little red Alfa Romeo, beating the most powerful cars on the planet on one of the world's most demanding tracks.
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Jul 28, 1945:
U.S. Senate approves United Nations charter


In a ringing declaration indicating that America's pre-World War II isolation was truly at an end, the U.S. Senate approves the charter establishing the United Nations. In the years to come, the United Nations would be the scene of some of the most memorable Cold War confrontations between the United States and the Soviet Union.

In 1919, following the close of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson implored the U.S. Senate to approve the charter for the League of Nations. Postwar isolationism and partisan politics killed U.S. participation in the League, however. In July 1945, with World War II coming to a close, the U.S. Senate indicated the sea change in American attitudes toward U.S. involvement in world affairs by approving the charter for the United Nations by a vote of 89 to 2. President Harry S. Truman was delighted with the vote, declaring, "The action of the Senate substantially advances the cause of world peace." Acting Secretary of State Joseph Grew also applauded the Senate's action, noting, "Millions of men, women and children have died because nations took to the naked sword instead of the conference table to settle their differences." The U.N. charter would provide the "foundation and cornerstone on which the international organization to keep the peace will be built." Once the charter had been ratified by a majority of the 50 nations that hammered out the charter in June 1945, the U.S. Senate formally approved U.S. participation in the United Nations in December 1945.

Whether the United Nations became a "foundation and cornerstone" of world peace in the years that followed is debatable, but it was certainly the scene of several notable Cold War confrontations between the United States and the Soviet Union. In 1950, with the Russians absent from the U.N. Security Council, the United States pushed through a resolution providing U.N. military assistance to South Korea in the Korean War. And in one memorable moment, during a speech denouncing Western imperialism in 1960, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev took off one of his shoes and pounded his table with it to make his point.
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Jul 28, 1990:
A soft drink containing liquid cocaine sickens an unsuspecting drinker


Maximo Menendez falls into a coma immediately after drinking a Colombian soft drink, Pony Malta de Bavaria, in Miami, Florida. Drinking half the bottle before heading off to his job at a pet shop, Menendez remarked, "This is poisoned--it's bad stuff," before going into convulsions. The next day, officials at the Food and Drug Administration learned that the soft drink had been laced with a lethal dose of liquid cocaine.

After pulling every bottle of Pony Malta off the local store shelves, authorities discovered that another 45 bottles of the thick, sweet beverage contained cocaine by using a dielectrometer, a piece of equipment usually used by engineers to locate imperfections in building materials. Apparently, a smuggling operation had gone awry; smugglers had planned to reclaim bottles and transform the liquid cocaine back to a sellable crystal form.

Menendez, who had escaped from Cuba only six months earlier, never regained consciousness and died in August. Finally, in June 1993, a federal grand jury indicted Hugo Rios and Alberto Gamba for their role in tampering with the Pony Malta bottles.

The late 1980s and 1990s featured all kinds of innovative smuggling schemes. In 1999, a Ghanian man sued U.S. customs over surgery to remove heroin-filled balloons from his stomach a year earlier. His claim was thrown out of court. Another man entering Puerto Rico had rubber-wrapped packages of cocaine implanted under the skin on his thighs. Earlier, authorities found a shipment of yams had been hollowed out and filled with cocaine.

In 1991, customs officers found that dog carriers from Colombia were actually made of cocaine and fiberglass. That same year, a cast iron pita oven from Turkey had 700 kilos of hashish welded inside: It was discovered when investigators realized there was no way to turn the oven on.


Jul 28, 1945:
Plane crashes into Empire State Building


A United States military plane crashes into the Empire State Building on this day in 1945, killing 14 people. The freak accident was caused by heavy fog.

The B-25 Mitchell bomber, with two pilots and one passenger aboard, was flying from New Bedford, Massachusetts, to LaGuardia Airport in New York City. As it came into the metropolitan area on that Saturday morning, the fog was particularly thick. Air-traffic controllers instructed the plane to fly to Newark Airport instead.

This new flight plan took the plane over Manhattan; the crew was specifically warned that the Empire State Building, the tallest building in the city at the time, was not visible. The bomber was flying relatively slowly and quite low, seeking better visibility, when it came upon the Chrysler Building in midtown. It swerved to avoid the building but the move sent it straight into the north side of the Empire State Building, near the 79th floor.

Upon impact, the plane's jet fuel exploded, filling the interior of the building with flames all the way down to the 75th floor and sending flames out of the hole the plane had ripped open in the building's side. One engine from the plane went straight through the building and landed in a penthouse apartment across the street. Other plane parts ended up embedded in and on top of nearby buildings. The other engine snapped an elevator cable while at least one woman was riding in the elevator car. The emergency auto brake saved the woman from crashing to the bottom, but the engine fell down the shaft and landed on top of it. Quick-thinking rescuers pulled the woman from the elevator, saving her life.

Since it was a Saturday, fewer workers than normal were in the building. Only 11 people in the building were killed, some suffering burns from the fiery jet fuel and others after being thrown out of the building. All 11 victims were workers from War Relief Services department of the National Catholic Welfare Conference, into the offices of which the plane had crashed. The three people on the plane were also killed.

An 18 foot by 20 foot hole was left in the side of the Empire State Building. Though its structural integrity was not affected, the crash did cause nearly $1 million in damages, about $10.5 million in today's money.
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Jul 28, 1976:
Worst modern earthquake


At 3:42 a.m., an earthquake measuring between 7.8 and 8.2 magnitude on the Richter scale flattens Tangshan, a Chinese industrial city with a population of about one million people. As almost everyone was asleep in their beds, instead of outside in the relative safety of the streets, the quake was especially costly in terms of human life. An estimated 242,000 people in Tangshan and surrounding areas were killed, making the earthquake one of the deadliest in recorded history, surpassed only by the 300,000 who died in the Calcutta earthquake in 1737, and the 830,000 thought to have perished in China's Shaanxi province in 1556.

Caught between the Indian and Pacific plates, China has been a very active location for earthquakes throughout history. Earthquakes have also played a significant part in China's culture and science, and the Chinese were the first to develop functioning seismometers. The area of northern China hit by the Tangshan earthquake is particularly prone to the westward movement of the Pacific plate.

In the days preceding the earthquake, people began to notice strange phenomena in and around Tangshan. Well-water levels rose and fell. Rats were seen running in panicked packs in broad daylight. Chickens refused to eat. During the evening of July 27 and the early morning hours of July 28, people reported flashes of colored light and roaring fireballs. Still, at 3:42 a.m. most people were sleeping quietly when the earthquake struck. It lasted for 23 seconds and leveled 90 percent of Tangshan's buildings. At least a quarter-of-a-million people were killed and 160,000 others injured. The earthquake came during the heat of midsummer, and many stunned survivors crawled out of their ruined houses naked, covered only in dust and blood. The earthquake started fires and ignited explosives and poisonous gases in Tangshan's factories. Water and electricity were cut off, and rail and road access to the city was destroyed.

The Chinese government was ill-prepared for a disaster of this scale. The day following the quake, helicopters and planes began dropping food and medicine into the city. Some 100,000 soldiers of the People's Liberation Army were ordered to Tangshan, and many had to march on foot from Jinzhou, a distance of more than 180 miles. About 30,000 medical personnel were called in, along with 30,000 construction workers. The Chinese government, boasting self-sufficiency, refused all offers of foreign relief aid. In the crucial first week after the crisis, many died from lack of medical care. Troops and relief workers lacked the kind of heavy rescue training necessary to efficiently pull survivors from the rubble. Looting was also epidemic. More than 160,000 families were left homeless, and more than 4,000 children were orphaned.

Tangshan was eventually rebuilt with adequate earthquake precautions. Today, nearly two million people live there. There is speculation that the death toll from the 1976 quake was much higher than the official Chinese government figure of 242,000. Some Chinese sources have spoken privately of more than 500,000 deaths.
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Duke of Buckingham
07-29-12, 06:30 AM
Jul 29, 1958:
NASA created


On this day in 1958, the U.S. Congress passes legislation establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a civilian agency responsible for coordinating America's activities in space. NASA has since sponsored space expeditions, both human and mechanical, that have yielded vital information about the solar system and universe. It has also launched numerous earth-orbiting satellites that have been instrumental in everything from weather forecasting to navigation to global communications.

NASA was created in response to the Soviet Union's October 4, 1957 launch of its first satellite, Sputnik I. The 183-pound, basketball-sized satellite orbited the earth in 98 minutes. The Sputnik launch caught Americans by surprise and sparked fears that the Soviets might also be capable of sending missiles with nuclear weapons from Europe to America. The United States prided itself on being at the forefront of technology, and, embarrassed, immediately began developing a response, signaling the start of the U.S.-Soviet space race.

On November 3, 1957, the Soviets launched Sputnik II, which carried a dog named Laika. In December, America attempted to launch a satellite of its own, called Vanguard, but it exploded shortly after takeoff. On January 31, 1958, things went better with Explorer I, the first U.S. satellite to successfully orbit the earth. In July of that year, Congress passed legislation officially establishing NASA from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and other government agencies, and confirming the country's commitment to winning the space race. In May 1961, President John F. Kennedy declared that America should put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. On July 20, 1969, NASA's Apollo 11 mission achieved that goal and made history when astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the moon, saying "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

NASA has continued to make great advances in space exploration since the first moonwalk, including playing a major part in the construction of the International Space Station. The agency has also suffered tragic setbacks, however, such as the disasters that killed the crews of the Challenger space shuttle in 1986 and the Columbia space shuttle in 2003. In 2004, President George Bush challenged NASA to return to the moon by 2020 and establish "an extended human presence" there that could serve as a launching point for "human missions to Mars and to worlds beyond."
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Jul 29, 1976:
Son of Sam terrorizes New York


The so-called "Son of Sam" pulls a gun from a paper bag and fires five shots at Donna Lauria and Jody Valenti of the Bronx while they are sitting in a car, talking. Lauria died and Valenti was seriously wounded in the first in a series of shootings by the serial killer, who terrorized New York City over the course of the next year.

Once dubbed the ".44 Caliber Killer," the Son of Sam eventually got his name from letters he sent to both the police and famed newspaper writer Jimmy Breslin that said, "...I am a monster. I am the Son of Sam. I love to hunt, prowling the streets looking for fair game. The weman are prettyist of all [sic]..."

The second attack came on October 23, 1976, when a couple was shot as they sat in a car in Queens. A month later, two girls were talking on a stoop outside a home when the serial killer approached, asked for directions, and then suddenly pulled a gun out and fired several shots. Joanne Lomino was paralyzed from a bullet that struck her spine, but her friend was not seriously injured.

The Son of Sam attacked again in January and March of 1977. In the latter attack, witnesses provided a description of the killer: an unattractive white man with black hair. After yet another shooting in the Bronx in April, the publicity hit a fever pitch. Women, particularly those with dark hair, were discouraged from traveling at night in the city.

When the Son of Sam missed his intended victims in another murder attempt in June, vigilante groups formed across New York City looking for the killer. His last two victims were shot on July 31, 1977, in Brooklyn; one died. Then, police following up on a parking ticket that had been given out that night discovered a machine gun in a car belonging to David Berkowitz of Yonkers, New York.

When questioned, Berkowitz explained that "Sam" was his neighbor Sam Carr--an agent of the devil. Sam transmitted his orders through his pet black Labrador. Years earlier, Berkowitz had shot the dog, complaining that its barking was keeping him from sleeping. After the dog recovered, Berkowitz claimed that it began speaking to him and demanding that he kill people.

In an unusual sequence of events, Berkowitz was allowed to plead guilty before claiming insanity and was sentenced to over 300 years in prison. In prison, he later claimed to be a born-again Christian.
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Jul 29, 1967:
Rocket causes deadly fire on aircraft carrier


A fire on a United States Navy carrier stationed off the coast of Vietnam kills 134 service members on this day in 1967. The deadly fire on the USS Forrestal began with the accidental launch of a rocket.

During the Vietnam War, the USS Forrestal was often stationed off the coast of North Vietnam, conducting combat operations. On the morning of July 29, the ship was preparing to attack when a rocket from one of its own F-4 Phantom jet fighters was accidentally launched. The rocket streaked across the deck and hit a parked A-4 Skyhawk jet. The Skyhawk, which was waiting to take off, was piloted by John McCain, the future senator from Arizona.

Fuel from the Skyhawk spilled out and caught fire. The fire then spread to nearby planes on the ship's deck and detonated a 1,000-pound bomb, which killed many of the initial firefighters and further spread the fire. A chain reaction of explosions blew holes in the flight deck and had half the large ship on fire at one point. Many pilots were trapped in their planes as the fire spread. It took a full day before the fires could be fully contained.

Hundreds of sailors were seriously injured and 134 lost their lives in the devastating fire. Twenty planes were destroyed. It was the worst loss of a life on a U.S. Navy ship since World War II. Temporary repairs were made to the ship in the Philippines before the Forrestal headed back to Norfolk, Virginia. It was repaired and put back into service the following April, but never returned to Vietnam.

John McCain narrowly escaped the fire and, afterwards, volunteered for duty on the USS Oriskany. Just three months later, his plane was shot down over North Vietnam and he was taken prisoner. He was not released until five-and-a-half years later, in 1973.
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Jul 29, 1588:
Spanish Armada defeated


Off the coast of Gravelines, France, Spain's so-called "Invincible Armada" is defeated by an English naval force under the command of Lord Charles Howard and Sir Francis Drake. After eight hours of furious fighting, a change in wind direction prompted the Spanish to break off from the battle and retreat toward the North Sea. Its hopes of invasion crushed, the remnants of the Spanish Armada began a long and difficult journey back to Spain.

In the late 1580s, English raids against Spanish commerce and Queen Elizabeth I's support of the Dutch rebels in the Spanish Netherlands led King Philip II of Spain to plan the conquest of England. Pope Sixtus V gave his blessing to what was called "The Enterprise of England," which he hoped would bring the Protestant isle back into the fold of Rome. A giant Spanish invasion fleet was completed by 1587, but Sir Francis Drake's daring raid on the Armada's supplies in the port of Cadiz delayed the Armada's departure until May 1588.

On May 19, the Invincible Armada set sail from Lisbon on a mission to secure control of the English Channel and transport a Spanish army to the British isle from Flanders. The fleet was under the command of the Duke of Medina-Sidonia and consisted of 130 ships carrying 2,500 guns, 8,000 seamen, and almost 20,000 soldiers. The Spanish ships were slower and less well armed than their English counterparts, but they planned to force boarding actions if the English offered battle, and the superior Spanish infantry would undoubtedly prevail. Delayed by storms that temporarily forced it back to Spain, the Armada did not reach the southern coast of England until July 19. By that time, the British were ready.

On July 21, the English navy began bombarding the seven-mile-long line of Spanish ships from a safe distance, taking full advantage of their long-range heavy guns. The Spanish Armada continued to advance during the next few days, but its ranks were thinned by the English assault. On July 27, the Armada anchored in exposed position off Calais, France, and the Spanish army prepared to embark from Flanders. Without control of the Channel, however, their passage to England would be impossible.

Just after midnight on July 29, the English sent eight burning ships into the crowded harbor at Calais. The panicked Spanish ships were forced to cut their anchors and sail out to sea to avoid catching fire. The disorganized fleet, completely out of formation, was attacked by the English off Gravelines at dawn. In a decisive battle, the superior English guns won the day, and the devastated Armada was forced to retreat north to Scotland. The English navy pursued the Spanish as far as Scotland and then turned back for want of supplies.

Battered by storms and suffering from a dire lack of supplies, the Armada sailed on a hard journey back to Spain around Scotland and Ireland. Some of the damaged ships foundered in the sea while others were driven onto the coast of Ireland and wrecked. By the time the last of the surviving fleet reached Spain in October, half of the original Armada was lost and some 15,000 men had perished.

Queen Elizabeth's decisive defeat of the Invincible Armada made England a world-class power and introduced effective long-range weapons into naval warfare for the first time, ending the era of boarding and close-quarter fighting.
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Jul 29, 1900:
Italian American assassinates Italian king


In Monza, Italy, King Umberto I is shot to death by Gaetano Bresci, an Italian-born anarchist who resided in America before returning to his homeland to murder the king.

Crowned in 1878, King Umberto became increasingly authoritarian in the late 19th century. He enacted a program of suppression against the radical elements in Italian society, particularly members of the popular anarchist movements.

Gaetano Bresci, who was born into poverty in Tuscany, immigrated to America in the 1890s seeking a better life. Bresci settled with his family in Paterson, New Jersey, and was employed in a weaving mill. The city was a hotbed of Italian American radicalism at the time, and Bresci became a cofounder of an anarchist newspaper, La Questione Sociale. Sacrificing his free time and scarce extra money to the paper, Bresci was regarded by his political allies as a devoted anarchist. He never forgot his countrymen back in Italy, and he read with horror of the events that unfolded in 1898.

The crops were poor that year, and much of the peasantry was starving. Seeking a respite from their government, peasants and workers marched to Milan to petition the king for relief. King Umberto ordered the demonstrators to disperse, and when they did not, he ordered the Italian army under General Bava Beccaris to force them out of Milan. Beccaris' soldiers fired cannons and numerous rounds into the crowd, and hundreds were killed. When Umberto then decorated Beccaris for the military action, Bresci resolved that the king should die.

Taking money from the newspaper without explaining to his compatriots why, Bresci traveled to Italy and in July 1900 finally got close to the king, who was making a royal visit to Milan. Umberto had already survived two attempts on his life, but on July 29, 1900, Bresci hit his mark, felling the king with three bullets. Bresci was arrested, found guilty, and sentenced to a life of hard labor at Santo Stefano Prison on Ventotene Island. On May 22, 1901, he was found dead in his cell, allegedly a victim of suicide.
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Duke of Buckingham
07-30-12, 05:19 PM
Jul 30, 1965:
Johnson signs Medicare into law


On this day in 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signs Medicare, a health insurance program for elderly Americans, into law. At the bill-signing ceremony, which took place at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, former President Harry S. Truman was enrolled as Medicare's first beneficiary and received the first Medicare card. Johnson wanted to recognize Truman, who, in 1945, had become the first president to propose national health insurance, an initiative that was opposed at the time by Congress.

The Medicare program, providing hospital and medical insurance for Americans age 65 or older, was signed into law as an amendment to the Social Security Act of 1935. Some 19 million people enrolled in Medicare when it went into effect in 1966. In 1972, eligibility for the program was extended to Americans under 65 with certain disabilities and people of all ages with permanent kidney disease requiring dialysis or transplant. In December 2003, President George W. Bush signed into law the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA), which added outpatient prescription drug benefits to Medicare.

Medicare is funded entirely by the federal government and paid for in part through payroll taxes. Medicare is currently a source of controversy due to the enormous strain it puts on the federal budget. Throughout its history, the program also has been plagued by fraud--committed by patients, doctors and hospitals--that has cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

Medicaid, a state and federally funded program that offers health coverage to certain low-income people, was also signed into law by President Johnson on July 30, 1965, as an amendment to the Social Security Act.

In 1977, the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) was created to administer Medicare and work with state governments to administer Medicaid. HCFA, which was later renamed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), is part of the Department of Health and Human Services and is headquartered in Baltimore.
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Jul 30, 2003:
Last classic VW Beetle rolls off the line


On this day in 2003, the last of 21,529,464 Volkswagen Beetles built since World War II rolls off the production line at Volkswagen's plant in Puebla, Mexico. One of a 3,000-unit final edition, the baby-blue vehicle was sent to a museum in Wolfsburg, Germany, where Volkswagen is headquartered.

The car produced in Puebla that day was the last so-called "classic" VW Beetle, which is not to be confused with the redesigned new Beetle that Volkswagen introduced in 1998. (The new Beetle resembles the classic version but is based on the VW Golf.) The roots of the classic Beetle stretch back to the mid-1930s, when the famed Austrian automotive engineer Dr. Ferdinand Porsche met German leader Adolf Hitler's request for a small, affordable passenger car to satisfy the transportation needs of the German people Hitler called the result the KdF (Kraft-durch-Freude)-Wagen (or "Strength-Through-Joy" car) after a Nazi-led movement ostensibly aimed at helping the working people of Germany; it would later be known by the name Porsche preferred: Volkswagen, or "people's car."

The first production-ready Kdf-Wagen debuted at the Berlin Motor Show in 1939; the international press soon dubbed it the "Beetle" for its distinctive rounded shape. During World War II, the factory in Kdf-stat (later renamed Wolfsburg) continued to make Beetles, though it was largely dedicated to production of war vehicles. Production was halted under threat of Allied bombing in August 1944 and did not resume until after the war, under British control. Though VW sales were initially slower in the United States compared with the rest of the world, by 1960 the Beetle was the top-selling import in America, thanks to an iconic ad campaign by the firm Doyle Dane Bernbach. In 1972, the Beetle surpassed the longstanding worldwide production record of 15 million vehicles, set by Ford Motor Company's legendary Model T between 1908 and 1927. It also became a worldwide cultural icon, featuring prominently in the hit 1969 movie "The Love Bug" (which starred a Beetle named Herbie) and on the cover of the Beatles album "Abbey Road."

In 1977, however, the Beetle, with its rear-mounted, air-cooled-engine, was banned in America for failing to meet safety and emission standards. Worldwide sales of the car shrank by the late 1970s and by 1988, the classic Beetle was sold only in Mexico. Due to increased competition from other manufacturers of inexpensive compact cars, and a Mexican decision to phase out two-door taxis, Volkswagen decided to discontinue production of the classic bug in 2003. The final count of 21,529,464, incidentally, did not include the original 600 cars built by the Nazis prior to World War II.
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Jul 30, 1975:
Summit meeting in Helsinki begins


Thirty-five nations, called together by the United States and the Soviet Union, begin a summit meeting in Helsinki, Finland, to discuss some pressing international issues. The meeting temporarily revived the spirit of detente between the United States and Russia.

By 1975, the policy of detente--the lessening of tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union--was slowly deteriorating. Richard Nixon, under whose administration detente began, had resigned from office in disgrace in August 1974. The collapse of South Vietnam in April 1975 left many Americans worried that the U.S. was losing the Cold War. In an effort to reawaken the policy of detente, President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger joined with the Soviet Union in calling for a multination summit in Helsinki in July 1975. Officially known as the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the meeting was attended by the United States, the Soviet Union, Canada, and all European nations (except Albania, which continued to plot its own very independent, and confusing, foreign policy). On August 1, 1975, the summit attendees issued a "Final Act," outlining the broad agreements that had been reached at the conference. All signatories to the Final Act agreed to respect the state boundaries established after World War II and abide by the rule of international law. In addition, human rights were emphasized and all states agreed to protect the basic rights of their people. Finally, all nations agreed to pursue arms reduction treaties in the future.

The agreements reached at Helsinki gave a temporary jumpstart to the idea of detente, but in the years to come most aspects of the Final Act were disregarded or forgotten. Although the Soviet Union agreed to respect human rights, it savagely attacked human rights groups in Russia (known informally as the "Helsinki groups"). And discussion about arms reduction treaties disappeared and was not revived until the mid-1980s. On a positive note, however, the Helsinki agreements did establish a foundation for more fruitful U.S.-Soviet relations in later years. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev used the basic premises of the Final Act to pursue a number of diplomatic initiatives in the mid- and late-1980s, including dramatic breakthroughs in nuclear arms control.
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Jul 30, 1971:
Fighter jet collides with passenger plane
A mid-air collision between a Boeing 727 and a fighter jet in Japan kills 162 people on this day in 1971. The military plane was flying without radar.

All Nippon Airways Flight 58 was traveling from Chitose Airport in Hokkaido to Tokyo, filled largely with members of a group dedicated to the assistance of war victims. Takeoff was uneventful and the plane soon reached 28,000 feet. Cruising over the Japanese Alps, Flight 58 suddenly encountered two military jets.

One of the Japanese F-86 Sabre jets was piloted by Captain Kuma; the other was being flown by his student, Sergeant Ichikawa, who had only a few hours of flying experience. Neither jet was equipped with radar, which would have indicated the presence of the Boeing 727. Ichikawa's fighter jet struck the airliner and sent both planes plunging into the mountains. Ichikawa was able to eject himself and parachute to safety. Everyone on board Flight 58, however, was killed.

Yoshimi Ichikawa was charged with involuntary manslaughter, but was acquitted at trial.
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Jul 30, 1945:
USS Indianapolis bombed


On this day in 1945, the USS Indianapolis is torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and sinks within minutes in shark-infested waters. Only 317 of the 1,196 men on board survived. However, the Indianapolis had already completed its major mission: the delivery of key components of the atomic bomb that would be dropped a week later at Hiroshima to Tinian Island in the South Pacific.

The Indianapolis made its delivery to Tinian Island on July 26, 1945. The mission was top secret and the ship's crew was unaware of its cargo. After leaving Tinian, the Indianapolis sailed to the U.S. military's Pacific headquarters at Guam and was given orders to meet the battleship USS Idaho at Leyte Gulf in the Philippines to prepare for the invasion of Japan.

Shortly after midnight on July 30, halfway between Guam and Leyte Gulf, a Japanese sub blasted the Indianapolis, sparking an explosion that split the ship and caused it to sink in approximately 12 minutes, with about 300 men trapped inside. Another 900 went into the water, where many died from drowning, shark attacks, dehydration or injuries from the explosion. Help did not arrive until four days later, on August 2, when an anti-submarine plane on routine patrol happened upon the men and radioed for assistance.

On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, inflicting nearly 130,000 casualties and destroying more than 60 percent of the city. On August 9, a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, where casualties were estimated at over 66,000. Meanwhile, the U.S. government kept quiet about the Indianapolis tragedy until August 15 in order to guarantee that the news would be overshadowed by President Harry Truman's announcement that Japan had surrendered.

In the aftermath of the events involving the Indianapolis, the ship's commander, Captain Charles McVay, was court-martialed in November 1945 for failing to sail a zigzag course that would have helped the ship to evade enemy submarines in the area. McVay, the only Navy captain court-martialed for losing a ship during the war, committed suicide in 1968. Many of his surviving crewmen believed the military had made him a scapegoat. In 2000, 55 years after the Indianapolis went down, Congress cleared McVay's name.
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Jul 30, 1956:
President Eisenhower signs "In God We Trust" into law


On this day in 1956, two years after pushing to have the phrase "under God" inserted into the pledge of allegiance, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs a law officially declaring "In God We Trust" to be the nation's official motto. The law, P.L. 84-140, also mandated that the phrase be printed on all American paper currency. The phrase had been placed on U.S. coins since the Civil War when, according to the historical association of the United States Treasury, religious sentiment reached a peak. Eisenhower's treasury secretary, George Humphrey, had suggested adding the phrase to paper currency as well.

Although some historical accounts claim Eisenhower was raised a Jehovah's Witness, most presidential scholars now believe his family was Mennonite. Either way, Eisenhower abandoned his family's religion before entering the Army, and took the unusual step of being baptized relatively late in his adult life as a Presbyterian. The baptism took place in 1953, barely a year into his first term as president.

Although Eisenhower embraced religion, biographers insist he never intended to force his beliefs on anyone. In fact, the chapel-like structure near where he and his wife Mamie are buried on the grounds of his presidential library is called the "Place of Meditation" and is intentionally inter-denominational. At a Flag Day speech in 1954, he elaborated on his feelings about the place of religion in public life when he discussed why he had wanted to include "under God" in the pledge of allegiance: "In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource in peace and war."

The first paper money with the phrase "In God We Trust" was not printed until 1957. Since then, religious and secular groups have argued over the appropriateness and constitutionality of a motto that mentions "God," considering the founding fathers dedication to maintaining the separation of church and state.
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Duke of Buckingham
07-31-12, 07:55 AM
Jul 31, 1975:
Jimmy Hoffa disappears

On July 31, 1975, James Riddle Hoffa, one of the most influential American labor leaders of the 20th century, disappears in Detroit, Michigan, never to be heard from again. Though he is popularly believed to have been the victim of a Mafia hit, conclusive evidence was never found, and Hoffa's death remains shrouded in mystery to this day.

Born in 1913 to a poor coal miner in Brazil, Indiana, Jimmy Hoffa proved a natural leader in his youth. At the age of 20, he helped organize a labor strike in Detroit, and remained an advocate for downtrodden workers for the rest of his life. Hoffa's charisma and talents as a local organizer quickly got him noticed by the Teamsters and carried him upward through its ranks. Then a small but rapidly growing union, the Teamsters organized truckers across the country, and through the use of strikes, boycotts and some more powerful though less legal methods of protest, won contract demands on behalf of workers.

Hoffa became president of the Teamsters in 1957, when its former leader was imprisoned for bribery. As chief, Hoffa was lauded for his tireless work to expand the union, and for his unflagging devotion to even the organization's least powerful members. His caring and approachability were captured in one of the more well-known quotes attributed to him: "You got a problem? Call me. Just pick up the phone."

Hoffa's dedication to the worker and his electrifying public speeches made him wildly popular, both among his fellow workers and the politicians and businessmen with whom he negotiated. Yet, for all the battles he fought and won on behalf of American drivers, he also had a dark side. In Hoffa's time, many Teamster leaders partnered with the Mafia in racketeering, extortion and embezzlement. Hoffa himself had relationships with high-ranking mobsters, and was the target of several government investigations throughout the 1960s. In 1967, he was convicted of bribery and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

While in jail, Hoffa never ceded his office, and when Richard Nixon commuted his sentence in 1971, he was poised to make a comeback. Released on condition of not participating in union activities for 10 years, Hoffa was planning to fight the restriction in court when he disappeared on July 31, 1975, from the parking lot of a restaurant in Detroit, not far from where he got his start as a labor organizer. Several conspiracy theories have been floated about Hoffa’s disappearance and the location of his remains, but the truth remains unknown.
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Jul 31, 1953:
Senator Robert A. Taft dies

Senate Majority Leader Robert A. Taft (R-Ohio) dies of cancer at the age of 63. Branded by critics as an "isolationist," Taft was a consistent critic of America's Cold War policies.

Taft, known as "Mr. Republican" because of his ferocious partisanship, was a true conservative in every sense of the word. First elected to the Senate in 1938, Taft lashed out at Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal programs as being too expensive and wasteful of taxpayers' dollars. During World War II, he warned against the tremendous growth of presidential power, which he claimed threatened the people's liberties and freedom. This same kind of criticism also brought Taft into conflict with the American government's Cold War policies after World War II. He attacked President Harry S. Truman's policy of containment of the Soviet Union, arguing that the United States was provoking Russia into a war. He vigorously opposed the Marshall Plan, designed to give billions of dollars in aid to Western Europe, as far too costly. He also voted against U.S. participation in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) because he believed it impinged on the nation's freedom of action. Overall, Taft feared that Truman and the U.S. government were using the Cold War to take on powers they were never intended to have. For this reason, he also opposed Truman's call for a peacetime draft in 1948. Taft's harsh criticisms sometimes brought him into conflict even with members of his own party. After winning the presidential election in 1952, Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower publicly attacked what he called Taft's "isolationism" and "fortress America" mentality.

In the years following his death, however, Taft's views gained new credibility. The immense costs of the Cold War and the brutal and inconclusive Vietnam War seemed to bear out many of Taft's criticisms of America's Cold War policies. During the 1960s, a number of scholars noted the similarities between Taft's opposition to the draft and American military intervention overseas and the objections raised by the anti-Vietnam War movement.
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Jul 31, 1715:
Hurricane sinks Spanish treasure ships

A hurricane strikes the east coast of Florida, sinking 10 Spanish treasure ships and killing nearly 1,000 people, on this day in 1715. All of the gold and silver onboard at the time would not be recovered until 250 years later.

From 1701, Spain sent fleets of ships to the Western Hemisphere to bring back natural resources, including gold and silver. These groups of ships were heavily fortified against pirates, but there was little that could be done to protect them from bad weather.

On July 24, 10 Spanish ships and one French ship left Havana, Cuba, on their way to Europe, carrying tons of gold and silver coins, about 14 million pesos worth. The Spanish ships stayed very close to the Florida coast, as was the custom, while the French ship, the Grifon, ventured further out from the shore. A week later, as the ships were between Cape Canaveral and Fort Pierce, in modern-day Florida, the winds picked up dramatically.

The hurricane advanced quickly and, one by one, the ships were wrecked. The Nuestra Senora de la Regla sank, sending 200 people and 120 tons of coins to a watery grave. The Santa Cristo de San Ramon went down with 120 sailors aboard. In all, somewhere between 700 and 1,000 people lost their lives in the wrecks. Meanwhile, the Grifon was able to ride out the storm; most of its crew survived.

In the following months, Spanish officials in Havana sent ships to salvage the treasure. About 80 percent had been recovered by April 1716, but the rest remained lost until the 1960s.
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Jul 31, 1941:
Goering orders Heydrich to prepare for the Final Solution

On this day in 1941, Herman Goering, writing under instructions from Hitler, ordered Reinhard Heydrich, SS general and Heinrich Himmler's number-two man, "to submit to me as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative material and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired final solution of the Jewish question."

Goering recounted briefly the outline for that "final solution" that had been drawn up on January 24, 1939: "emigration and evacuation in the best possible way." This program of what would become mass, systematic extermination was to encompass "all the territories of Europe under German occupation."

Heydrich already had some experience with organizing such a plan, having reintroduced the cruel medieval concept of the ghetto in Warsaw after the German occupation of Poland. Jews were crammed into cramped walled areas of major cities and held as prisoners, as their property was confiscated and given to either local Germans or non-Jewish Polish peasants.

Behind this horrendous scheme, carried out month by month, country by country, was Hitler, whose "greatest weakness was found in the vast numbers of oppressed peoples who hated [him] and the immoral ways of his government." This assessment was Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin's, given at a Kremlin meeting that same day, July 31, with American adviser to the president Harry Hopkins.
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Jul 31, 1945:
Fugitive Vichy leader surrenders in Austria

Pierre Laval, the puppet leader of Nazi-occupied Vichy France, surrenders to American authorities in Austria, who extradite him to France to stand trial.

Laval, originally a deputy and senator of pacifist tendencies, shifted to the right in the 1930s while serving as minister of foreign affairs and twice as the French premier. A staunch anti-communist, he delayed the Soviet-Franco pact of 1935 and sought to align France with Fascist Italy. Hostile to the declaration of war against Germany in 1939, Laval encouraged the antiwar faction in the French government, and with the German invasion in 1940 he used his political influence to force an armistice with Germany. Henri Petain took over the new Vichy state, and Laval served as minister of state. Laval was dismissed by Petain in December 1940 for negotiating privately with Germany.

By 1942, Laval had won the trust of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, and the elderly Petain became merely a figurehead in the Vichy regime. As the premier of Vichy France, Laval collaborated with the Nazi programs of oppression and genocide and increasingly became a puppet of Hitler. After the Allied liberation of France, he was forced to flee east for German protection. With the defeat of Germany in May 1945, he escaped to Spain but was expelled and went into hiding in Austria, where he finally surrendered to American authorities in late July. Extradited to France, Laval was convicted of treason by the High Court of Justice in a sensational trial. Condemned to death, he attempted suicide by poison but was nursed back to health in time for his execution on October 15, 1945.
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Jul 31, 1964:
Ranger 7 photographs moon

Ranger 7, an unmanned U.S. lunar probe, takes the first close-up images of the moon—4,308 in total—before it impacts with the lunar surface northwest of the Sea of the Clouds. The images were 1,000 times as clear as anything ever seen through earth-bound telescopes.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) had attempted a similar mission earlier in the year—Ranger 6—but the probe's cameras had failed as it descended to the lunar surface. Ranger 7, launched from Earth on July 28, successfully activated its cameras 17 minutes, or 1,300 miles, before impact and began beaming the images back to NASA's receiving station in California. The pictures showed that the lunar surface was not excessively dusty or otherwise treacherous to a potential spacecraft landing, thus lending encouragement to the NASA plan to send astronauts to the moon. In July 1969, two Americans walked on the moon in the first Apollo Program lunar landing mission.
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Duke of Buckingham
08-01-12, 07:05 AM
Aug 1, 1961:
Texans head for the thrills at Six Flags

On this day in 1961, amusement park lovers "head for the thrills" as Six Flags Over Texas, the first park in the Six Flags chain, opens. Located on 212 acres in Arlington, Texas, the park was the first to feature log flume and mine train rides and later, the first 360-degree looping roller coaster, modern parachute drop and man-made river rapids ride. The park also pioneered the concept of all-inclusive admission price; until then, separate entrance fees and individual ride tickets were the standard. During its opening year, a day at Six Flags cost $2.75 for an adult and $2.25 for a child. A hamburger sold for 50 cents and a soda set the buyer back a dime.

The park, which took a year and $10 million to build, was the brainchild of Texas real estate developer and oilman Angus Wynne Jr., who viewed it as a short-term way to make a buck from some vacant land before turning it into an industrial complex. Wynne reportedly recouped his personal investment of $3.5 million within 18 months and changed his mind about the park's temporary status. With 17.5 million visitors in its first 10 years, the park became the Lone Star State's top for-profit tourist attraction. Today, average annual attendance at the park is over 3 million.

One of Six Flags' unique aspects was that it wasn't just a random collection of rides; it was developed around a theme: the history of Texas. The park's name was a nod to the six flags that had flown over the state at various times--France, Spain, Mexico, the Confederacy, Texas and the United States. The park's rides and attractions were grouped into six themed sections that represented the cultures of these governments and enabled visitors to experience everything from cowboy culture to Southern belles and pirates. Originally, the park was to be called Texas Under Six Flags, before it was decided that Texas should never be under anything.

Angus Wynne sold Six Flags in 1969 and in the coming years, the company expanded and was resold. Today, Six Flags, Inc. is the world's largest regional theme park company and owns and operates 30 theme, water and zoological parks in North America. In 2005, almost 34 million people spent a combined 250 million hours at Six Flags parks.
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Aug 1, 2007:
First drive-through ATM opens in China

On this day in 2007, Citibank opens China's first drive-through automated teller machine (ATM) at the Upper East Side Central Plaza in Beijing.

Like those of drive-through restaurants and drive-in movies, the origins of drive-through banking can be traced to the United States. Some sources say that Hillcrest State Bank opened the first drive-through bank in Dallas, Texas, in 1938; others claim the honor belongs to the Exchange National Bank of Chicago in 1946. The trend reached its height in the post-World War II boom era of the late 1950s. Today, nearly all major banks in the United States offer some type of drive-through option, from regular teller service to 24-hour ATMs.

Drive-through banking, like other developments in automobile-centered culture, caught on a bit later in the rest of the world. Switzerland, for example, didn't get its first drive-through bank until 1962, when Credit Suisse--then known as Schweizerische Kreditanstalt (SKA)--opened a branch in downtown Zurich featuring eight glass pavilions with drive-through banking services. Though popular at first, the branch faltered in the 1970s, when traffic problems in the city center made fewer people willing to do their banking from their cars. SKA closed the drive-through in 1983.

In December 2006, five years after joining the World Trade Organization, China opened its retail banking sector to foreign competition. Under the new regulations Citibank became one of four foreign banks--along with HSBC, Standard Chartered and Bank of East Asia--approved to provide banking services using the Chinese currency, renminbi. (Often abbreviated as RMB, renminbi literally means "people's money.") The agreement had been signed in the fall of 2006, and by early December Citi had already opened 70 regular ATMs across the Chinese mainland.

Initially, the Citibank drive-through ATM that opened in Beijing in August 2007 was available only to holders of bank cards issued abroad, as foreign banks were not yet allowed to issue their own cards in China. Other banks soon hopped on the drive-through banking bandwagon in China, including China Construction Bank, which opened the first drive-through ATM in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou in May 2008.


Aug 1, 1966:
An ex-Marine goes on a killing spree at the University of Texas

Charles Whitman takes a stockpile of guns and ammunition to the observatory platform atop a 300-foot tower at the University of Texas and proceeds to shoot 46 people, killing 14 people and wounding 31. A fifteenth died in 2001 because of his injuries. Whitman, who had killed both his wife and mother the night before, was eventually shot to death after courageous Austin police officers, including Ramiro Martinez, charged up the stairs of the tower to subdue the attacker.

Whitman, a former Eagle Scout and Marine, began to suffer serious mental problems after his mother left his father in March 1966. On March 29, he told a psychiatrist that he was having uncontrollable fits of anger. He purportedly even told this doctor that he was thinking about going up to the tower with a rifle and shooting people. Unfortunately, the doctor didn't follow up on this red flag.

On July 31, Whitman wrote a note about his violent impulses, saying, "After my death, I wish an autopsy on me be performed to see if there's any mental disorders." The note then described his hatred for his family and his intent to kill them. That night, Whitman went to his mother's home, where he stabbed and shot her. Upon returning to his own home, he then stabbed his wife to death.

The following morning, Whitman headed for the tower with several pistols and a rifle after stopping off at a gun store to buy boxes of ammunition and a carbine. Packing food and other supplies, he proceeded to the observation platform, killing the receptionist and two tourists before unpacking his rifle and telescope and hunting the people below.

An expert marksman, Whitman was able to hit people as far away as 500 yards. For 90 minutes, he continued firing while officers searched for a chance to get a shot at him. By the end of his rampage, 16 people were dead and another 30 were injured.

The University of Texas tower remained closed for 25 years before reopening in 1999.
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Aug 1, 1498:
Columbus lands in South America

Italian explorer Christopher Columbus sets foot on the American mainland for the first time, at the Paria Peninsula in present-day Venezuela. Thinking it an island, he christened it Isla Santa and claimed it for Spain.

Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy, in 1451. Little is known of his early life, but he worked as a seaman and then a sailing entrepreneur. He became obsessed with the possibility of pioneering a western sea route to Cathay (China), India, and the fabled gold and spice islands of Asia. At the time, Europeans knew no direct sea route to southern Asia, and the route via Egypt and the Red Sea was closed to Europeans by the Ottoman Empire, as were many land routes. Contrary to popular legend, educated Europeans of Columbus' day did believe that the world was round, as argued by St. Isidore in the seventh century. However, Columbus, and most others, underestimated the world's size, calculating that East Asia must lie approximately where North America sits on the globe (they did not yet know that the Pacific Ocean existed).

With only the Atlantic Ocean, he thought, lying between Europe and the riches of the East Indies, Columbus met with King John II of Portugal and tried to persuade him to back his "Enterprise of the Indies," as he called his plan. He was rebuffed and went to Spain, where King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella also rejected him at least twice. However, after the Spanish conquest of the Moorish kingdom of Granada in January 1492, the Spanish monarchs, flush with victory, agreed to support his voyage.

On August 3, 1492, Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain, with three small ships, the Santa María, the Pinta, and the Niña. On October 12, the expedition sighted land, probably Watling Island in the Bahamas, and went ashore the same day, claiming it for Spain. Later that month, Columbus sighted Cuba, which he thought was mainland China, and in December the expedition landed on Hispaniola, which Columbus thought might be Japan. He established a small colony there with 39 of his men. The explorer returned to Spain with gold, spices, and "Indian" captives in March 1493 and was received with the highest honors by the Spanish court. He was given the title "admiral of the ocean sea," and a second expedition was promptly organized. He was the first European to explore the Americas since the Vikings set up colonies in Greenland and Newfoundland in the 10th century.

Fitted out with a large fleet of 17 ships with 1,500 colonists aboard, Columbus set out from Cádiz in September 1493 on his second voyage to the New World. Landfall was made in the Lesser Antilles in November. Returning to Hispaniola, he found the men he left there slaughtered by the natives, and he founded a second colony. Sailing on, he explored Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and numerous smaller islands in the Caribbean. Columbus returned to Spain in June 1496 and was greeted less warmly, as the yield from the second voyage had fallen well short of its costs.

Isabella and Ferdinand, still greedy for the riches of the East, agreed to a smaller third voyage and instructed Columbus to find a strait to India. In May 1498, Columbus left Spain with six ships, three filled with colonists and three with provisions for the colony on Hispaniola. This time, he made landfall on Trinidad. He entered the Gulf of Paria in Venezuela and planted the Spanish flag in South America on August 1, 1498. He explored the Orinoco River of Venezuela and, given its scope, soon realized he had stumbled upon another continent. Columbus, a deeply religious man, decided after careful thought that Venezuela was the outer regions of the Garden of Eden.

Returning to Hispaniola, he found that conditions on the island had deteriorated under the rule of his brothers, Diego and Bartholomew. Columbus' efforts to restore order were marked by brutality, and his rule came to be deeply resented by both the colonists and the native Taino chiefs. In 1500, Spanish chief justice Francisco de Bobadilla arrived at Hispaniola, sent by Isabella and Ferdinand to investigate complaints, and Columbus and his brothers were sent back to Spain in chains.

He was immediately released upon his return, and Ferdinand and Isabella agreed to finance a fourth voyage, in which he was to search for the earthly paradise and the realms of gold said to lie nearby. He was also to continue looking for a passage to India. In May 1502, Columbus left Cádiz on his fourth and final voyage to the New World. After returning to Hispaniola, against his patrons' wishes, he explored the coast of Central America looking for a strait and for gold. Attempting to return to Hispaniola, his ships, in poor condition, had to be beached on Jamaica. Columbus and his men were marooned, but two of his captains succeed in canoeing the 450 miles to Hispaniola. Columbus was a castaway on Jamaica for a year before a rescue ship arrived.

In November 1504, Columbus returned to Spain. Queen Isabella, his chief patron, died less than three weeks later. Although Columbus enjoyed substantial revenue from Hispaniola gold during the last years of his life, he repeatedly attempted (unsuccessfully) to gain an audience with King Ferdinand, whom he felt owed him further redress. Columbus died in Valladolid on May 20, 1506, without realizing the great scope of his achievement: He had discovered for Europe the New World, whose riches over the next century would help make Spain the wealthiest and most powerful nation on earth.
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Aug 1, 1914:
First World War erupts

Four days after Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, Germany and Russia declare war against each other, France orders a general mobilization, and the first German army units cross into Luxembourg in preparation for the German invasion of France. During the next three days, Russia, France, Belgium, and Great Britain all lined up against Austria-Hungary and Germany, and the German army invaded Belgium. The "Great War" that ensued was one of unprecedented destruction and loss of life, resulting in the deaths of some 20 million soldiers and civilians.

On June 28, 1914, in an event that is widely regarded as sparking the outbreak of World War I, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, was shot to death with his wife by Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Ferdinand had been inspecting his uncle's imperial armed forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, despite the threat of Serbian nationalists who wanted these Austro-Hungarian possessions to join newly independent Serbia. Austria-Hungary blamed the Serbian government for the attack and hoped to use the incident as justification for settling the problem of Slavic nationalism once and for all. However, as Russia supported Serbia, an Austria-Hungary declaration of war was delayed until its leaders received assurances from German leader Kaiser Wilhelm II that Germany would support their cause in the event of a Russian intervention.

On July 28, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and the tenuous peace between Europe's great powers collapsed. On July 29, Austro-Hungarian forces began to shell the Serbian capital of Belgrade, and Russia, Serbia's ally, ordered a troop mobilization against Austria-Hungary. France, allied with Russia, began to mobilize on August 1. France and Germany declared war against each other on August 3. After crossing through neutral Luxembourg, the German army invaded Belgium on the night of August 3-4, prompting Great Britain, Belgium's ally, to declare war against Germany.

For the most part, the people of Europe greeted the outbreak of war with jubilation. Most patriotically assumed that their country would be victorious within months. Of the initial belligerents, Germany was most prepared for the outbreak of hostilities, and its military leaders had formatted a sophisticated military strategy known as the "Schlieffen Plan," which envisioned the conquest of France through a great arcing offensive through Belgium and into northern France. Russia, slow to mobilize, was to be kept occupied by Austro-Hungarian forces while Germany attacked France.

The Schlieffen Plan was nearly successful, but in early September the French rallied and halted the German advance at the bloody Battle of the Marne near Paris. By the end of 1914, well over a million soldiers of various nationalities had been killed on the battlefields of Europe, and neither for the Allies nor the Central Powers was a final victory in sight. On the western front--the battle line that stretched across northern France and Belgium--the combatants settled down in the trenches for a terrible war of attrition.

In 1915, the Allies attempted to break the stalemate with an amphibious invasion of Turkey, which had joined the Central Powers in October 1914, but after heavy bloodshed the Allies were forced to retreat in early 1916. The year 1916 saw great offensives by Germany and Britain along the western front, but neither side accomplished a decisive victory. In the east, Germany was more successful, and the disorganized Russian army suffered terrible losses, spurring the outbreak of the Russian Revolution in 1917. By the end of 1917, the Bolsheviks had seized power in Russia and immediately set about negotiating peace with Germany. In 1918, the infusion of American troops and resources into the western front finally tipped the scale in the Allies' favor. Bereft of manpower and supplies and faced with an imminent invasion, Germany signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in November 1918.

World War I was known as the "war to end all wars" because of the great slaughter and destruction it caused. Unfortunately, the peace treaty that officially ended the conflict--the Treaty of Versailles of 1919--forced punitive terms on Germany that destabilized Europe and laid the groundwork for World War II.
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Aug 1, 1944:
Warsaw Revolt begins

During World War II, an advance Soviet armored column under General Konstantin Rokossovski reaches the Vistula River along the eastern suburb of Warsaw, prompting Poles in the city to launch a major uprising against the Nazi occupation. The revolt was spearheaded by Polish General Tadeusz Bor-Komorowski, who was the commander of the Home Army, an underground resistance group made up of some 40,000 poorly supplied soldiers. In addition to accelerating the liberation of Warsaw, the Home Army, which had ties with the Polish government-in-exile in London and was anti-communist in its ideology, hoped to gain at least partial control of Warsaw before the Soviets arrived.

Although the Poles in Warsaw won early gains--and Soviet liberation of the city was inevitable--Nazi leader Adolf Hitler ordered his authorities to crush the uprising at all costs. The elite Nazi SS directed the German defense force, which included the Kaminiski Brigade of Russian prisoners and the Dirlewanger Brigade of German convicts. In brutal street fighting, the Poles were gradually overcome by the superior German weaponry. As the rebels were suppressed, the Nazis deliberately razed large portions of the city and massacred many civilians.

Meanwhile, the Red Army gained several bridgeheads across the Vistula River but made no efforts to aid the rebels in Warsaw. The Soviets also rejected a request by the British to use Soviet air bases to airlift supplies to the beleaguered Poles. The rebels and the city's citizens ran out of medical supplies, food, and eventually water. Finally, on October 2, the surviving rebels, including Bor-Komorowski, surrendered.

During the 63-day ordeal, three-fourths of the Home Army perished along with 200,000 civilians. As a testament to the ferocity of the fighting, the Germans also suffered high casualties: 10,000 killed, 9,000 wounded, and 7,000 missing. During the next few months, German troops deported the surviving population, and demolition squads destroyed what buildings remained intact in Warsaw. All of its great treasures were looted or burned. The Red Army remained dormant outside Warsaw until January 1945, when the final Soviet offensive against Germany commenced. Warsaw, a city in ruins, was liberated on January 17. With Warsaw out of the way, the Soviets faced little organized opposition in establishing a communist government in Poland.
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Duke of Buckingham
08-01-12, 04:38 PM
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Gore Vidal

Writer Gore Vidal, who filled his novels and essays with acerbic observations on politics, sex and American culture while carrying on feuds with big-name literary rivals, died on Tuesday at home in Los Angeles of complications from pneumonia, age 86.

Vidal's literary legacy includes a series of historical novels - "Burr," "1876," "Lincoln" and "The Golden Age" among them - as well as the campy transsexual comedy "Myra Breckinridge".

He started writing as a 19-year-old soldier stationed in Alaska, basing "Williwaw" on his World War Two experiences. His third book, "The City and the Pillar," created a sensation in 1948 because it was one of the first open portrayals of a homosexual main character.

Confirming his death, his official website posted a memoriam with two pictures of Vidal, one as a young military warrant officer during World War Two and another as the iconoclastic writer he would become.

He referred to himself as a "gentleman bitch" and was as egotistical and caustic as he was elegant and brilliant.

In addition to rubbing shoulders with the great writers of his time, he banged heads with many of them. Vidal considered Ernest Hemingway a joke and compared Truman Capote to a "filthy animal that has found its way into the house".

His most famous literary enemies were conservative pundit William F. Buckley Jr. and writer Norman Mailer, who Vidal once likened to cult killer Charles Manson.

Mailer head-butted Vidal before a television appearance and on another occasion knocked him to the ground.

Vidal and Buckley took their feud to live national television while serving as commentators at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Vidal accused Buckley of being a "pro-crypto-Nazi" while Buckley called Vidal a "queer" and threatened to punch him.

Vidal seemed to make no effort to curb his abundant ego.

In a 2008 interview with Esquire magazine Vidal said people always seemed impressed that he had met so many famous people, such as Jacqueline Kennedy and William Burroughs.

"People always put that sentence the wrong way around," he said. "I mean, why not put it the true way - that these people got to meet me, and wanted to?"

NEPHEW OF SENATOR

Eugene Luther Vidal Jr. was born on October 3, 1925 in West Point, New York, and eventually took his mother's surname as his first name. He grew up in Washington, D.C., where his grandfather, Democratic U.S. Sen. Thomas Gore of Oklahoma, had a strong influence on the boy.

The young Vidal developed an interest in politics as he read to the blind senator and led him about town. A distant cousin is former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

He went to exclusive private secondary schools but did not attend college.

After his parents divorced, Vidal's mother married Hugh Auchincloss, who later also became the stepfather of Jacqueline Kennedy. That connection gave Vidal access to the Kennedy White House before a falling out with the family.

After early success, his literary career stalled - perhaps because of the controversy of "The City and the Pillar" - and he concentrated on television and movie scripts.

Vidal got back on track in the 1960s with "Julian," about a Roman emperor; "Washington, D.C.," the tale of a political family; and "Myra Breckenridge."

Bigger success followed with recreations of historical U.S. figures - such as Aaron Burr and Abraham Lincoln - that analyze where Vidal thought the United States fell from grace.

Vidal also was known for his sharp essays on society, sex, literature and politics. He was fervent about politics and what he considered to be the death of "the American Empire".

"The genius of our ruling class is that it has kept a majority of the people from ever questioning the inequity of a system where most people drudge along, paying heavy taxes for which they get nothing in return," he once said.

In 1960 Vidal ran unsuccessfully for a congressional seat in New York and in 1982 failed in a bid for a California Senate seat.

He once described the United States as "the land of the dull and the home of the literal" and starting in the 1960s lived much of the time in a seaside Italian villa. He moved back permanently in 2003, shortly before Howard Austen, his companion of more than 50 years, died of cancer.

Duke of Buckingham
08-02-12, 04:53 PM
Aug 2, 1990:
Iraq invades Kuwait

At about 2 a.m. local time, Iraqi forces invade Kuwait, Iraq's tiny, oil-rich neighbor. Kuwait's defense forces were rapidly overwhelmed, and those that were not destroyed retreated to Saudi Arabia. The emir of Kuwait, his family, and other government leaders fled to Saudi Arabia, and within hours Kuwait City had been captured and the Iraqis had established a provincial government. By annexing Kuwait, Iraq gained control of 20 percent of the world's oil reserves and, for the first time, a substantial coastline on the Persian Gulf. The same day, the United Nations Security Council unanimously denounced the invasion and demanded Iraq's immediate withdrawal from Kuwait. On August 6, the Security Council imposed a worldwide ban on trade with Iraq.

On August 9, Operation Desert Shield, the American defense of Saudi Arabia, began as U.S. forces raced to the Persian Gulf. Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, meanwhile, built up his occupying army in Kuwait to about 300,000 troops. On November 29, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq if it failed to withdraw by January 15, 1991. Hussein refused to withdraw his forces from Kuwait, which he had established as a province of Iraq, and some 700,000 allied troops, primarily American, gathered in the Middle East to enforce the deadline.

At 4:30 p.m. EST on January 16, 1991, Operation Desert Storm, the massive U.S.-led offensive against Iraq, began as the first fighter aircraft were launched from Saudi Arabia and off U.S. and British aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf. All evening, aircraft from the U.S.-led military coalition pounded targets in and around Baghdad as the world watched the events transpire on television footage transmitted live via satellite from Iraq. Operation Desert Storm was conducted by an international coalition under the supreme command of U.S. General Norman Schwarzkopf and featured forces from 32 nations, including Britain, Egypt, France, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait.

During the next six weeks, the allied force engaged in an intensive air war against Iraq's military and civil infrastructure and encountered little effective resistance from the Iraqi air force or air defenses. Iraqi ground forces were helpless during this stage of the war, and Hussein's only significant retaliatory measure was the launching of SCUD missile attacks against Israel and Saudi Arabia. Saddam hoped that the missile attacks would provoke Israel to enter the conflict, thus dissolving Arab support of the war. At the request of the United States, however, Israel remained out of the war.

On February 24, a massive coalition ground offensive began, and Iraq's outdated and poorly supplied armed forces were rapidly overwhelmed. By the end of the day, the Iraqi army had effectively folded, 10,000 of its troops were held as prisoners, and a U.S. air base had been established deep inside Iraq. After less than four days, Kuwait was liberated, and the majority of Iraq's armed forces had either surrendered, retreated to Iraq, or been destroyed.

On February 28, U.S. President George Bush declared a cease-fire, and on April 3 the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 687, specifying conditions for a formal end to the conflict. According to the resolution, Bush's cease-fire would become official, some sanctions would be lifted, but the ban on Iraqi oil sales would continue until Iraq destroyed its weapons of mass destruction under U.N. supervision. On April 6, Iraq accepted the resolution, and on April 11 the Security Council declared it in effect. During the next decade, Saddam Hussein frequently violated the terms of the peace agreement, prompting further allied air strikes and continuing U.N. sanctions.

In the Persian Gulf War, 148 American soldiers were killed and 457 wounded. The other allied nations suffered about 100 deaths combined during Operation Desert Storm. There are no official figures for the number of Iraqi casualties, but it is believed that at least 25,000 soldiers were killed and more than 75,000 were wounded, making it one of the most one-sided military conflicts in history. It is estimated that 100,000 Iraqi civilians died from wounds or from lack of adequate water, food, and medical supplies directly attributable to the Persian Gulf War. In the ensuing years, more than one million Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the subsequent U.N. sanctions.
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Aug 2, 1945:
Potsdam Conference concludes

The last wartime conference of the "Big Three"--the Soviet Union, the United States, and Great Britain--concludes after two weeks of intense and sometimes acrimonious debate. The conference failed to settle most of the important issues at hand and thus helped set the stage for the Cold War that would begin shortly after World War II came to an end.

The meeting at Potsdam was the third conference between the leaders of the Big Three nations. The Soviet Union was represented by Joseph Stalin, Britain by Winston Churchill, and the United States by President Harry S. Truman. This was Truman's first Big Three meeting. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who died in April 1945, attended the first two conferences--in Tehran in 1943 and Yalta in February 1945.

At the Potsdam meeting, the most pressing issue was the postwar fate of Germany. The Soviets wanted a unified Germany, but they also insisted that Germany be completely disarmed. Truman, along with a growing number of U.S. officials, had deep suspicions about Soviet intentions in Europe. The massive Soviet army already occupied much of Eastern Europe. A strong Germany might be the only obstacle in the way of Soviet domination of all of Europe. In the end, the Big Three agreed to divide Germany into three zones of occupation (one for each nation), and to defer discussions of German reunification until a later date. The other notable issue at Potsdam was one that was virtually unspoken. Just as he arrived for the conference, Truman was informed that the United States had successfully tested the first atomic bomb. Hoping to use the weapon as leverage with the Soviets in the postwar world, Truman casually mentioned to Stalin that America was now in possession of a weapon of monstrously destructive force. The president was disappointed when the Soviet leader merely responded that he hoped the United States would use it to bring the war with Japan to a speedy end.

The Potsdam Conference ended on a somber note. By the time it was over, Truman had become even more convinced that he had to adopt a tough policy toward the Soviets. Stalin had come to believe more strongly that the United States and Great Britain were conspiring against the Soviet Union. As for Churchill, he was not present for the closing ceremonies. His party lost in the elections in England, and he was replaced midway through the conference by the new prime minister, Clement Attlee. Potsdam was the last postwar conference of the Big Three.
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Aug 2, 1985:
Sudden thunderstorm causes plane crash

On this day in 1985, strong and sudden wind gusts cause a plane crash at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport in Texas that kills 135 people. The rapid and unexpected formation of a supercell, an extremely violent form of thunderstorm, led to the tragedy.

Delta Flight 191 left Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in the afternoon, headed for Dallas, Texas. The passengers aboard the Lockheed L-1011 enjoyed a completely normal flight until they approached the Dallas area. Summer afternoons in central Texas often include thunderstorms and August 2 proved to be a typical day in this respect. Flight 191 moved around a large storm on its original flight path and ended up coming in due south toward runway 17.

The crew of 191 saw lightning north of the airport, but did not abort the landing. As the plane flew into strong headwinds, the pilot slowed the thrust, expecting an updraft to hold the plane's altitude. Instead, there was a sudden downward wind shear, with a blast of wind from the tail. The Lockheed plane is relatively heavy and was not able to thrust quickly in response. The pilot lost control of the plane and it hit the ground 6,000 feet short of the runway.

The plane hit a car, killing the driver, and then skidded into two water tanks. One hundred thirty-five people lost their lives and another 15 suffered serious injury in the crash. The subsequent investigation revealed that the weather had changed drastically in the eight minutes prior to the crash. A fast-growing supercell formation had caused unpredictable winds. The pilots also should have been more prudent, given what they could see of the developing storm as they approached the airport.

Today, improvements in technology help to monitor the progression and location of storms like the one that downed Flight 191.
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Aug 2, 1934:
Hitler becomes fuhrer

With the death of German President Paul von Hindenburg, Chancellor Adolf Hitler becomes absolute dictator of Germany under the title of Fuhrer, or "Leader." The German army took an oath of allegiance to its new commander-in-chief, and the last remnants of Germany's democratic government were dismantled to make way for Hitler's Third Reich. The Fuhrer assured his people that the Third Reich would last for a thousand years, but Nazi Germany collapsed just 11 years later.

Adolf Hitler was born in Braunau am Inn, Austria, in 1889. As a young man he aspired to be a painter, but he received little public recognition and lived in poverty in Vienna. Of German descent, he came to detest Austria as a "patchwork nation" of various ethnic groups, and in 1913 he moved to the German city of Munich in the state of Bavaria. After a year of drifting, he found direction as a German soldier in World War I, and was decorated for his bravery on the battlefield. He was in a military hospital in 1918, recovering from a mustard gas attack that left him temporarily blind, when Germany surrendered.

He was appalled by Germany's defeat, which he blamed on "enemies within"--chiefly German communists and Jews--and was enraged by the punitive peace settlement forced on Germany by the victorious Allies. He remained in the German army after the war, and as an intelligence agent was ordered to report on subversive activities in Munich's political parties. It was in this capacity that he joined the tiny German Workers' Party, made up of embittered army veterans, as the group's seventh member. Hitler was put in charge of the party's propaganda, and in 1920 he assumed leadership of the organization, changing its name to Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers' party), which was abbreviated to Nazi.

The party's socialist orientation was little more than a ploy to attract working-class support; in fact, Hitler was fiercely right-wing. But the economic views of the party were overshadowed by the Nazis' fervent nationalism, which blamed Jews, communists, the Treaty of Versailles, and Germany's ineffectual democratic government for the country's devastated economy. In the early 1920s, the ranks of Hitler's Bavarian-based Nazi party swelled with resentful Germans. A paramilitary organization, the Sturmabteilung (SA), was formed to protect the Nazis and intimidate their political opponents, and the party adopted the ancient symbol of the swastika as its emblem.

In November 1923, after the German government resumed the payment of war reparations to Britain and France, the Nazis launched the "Beer Hall Putsch"--an attempt at seizing the German government by force. Hitler hoped that his nationalist revolution in Bavaria would spread to the dissatisfied German army, which in turn would bring down the government in Berlin. However, the uprising was immediately suppressed, and Hitler was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison for treason.

Imprisoned in Landsberg fortress, he spent his time there dictating his autobiography, Mein Kampf (My Struggle), a bitter and rambling narrative in which he sharpened his anti-Semitic and anti-Marxist beliefs and laid out his plans for Nazi conquest. In the work, published in a series of volumes, he developed his concept of the Fuhrer as an absolute dictator who would bring unity to German people and lead the "Aryan race" to world supremacy.

Political pressure from the Nazis forced the Bavarian government to commute Hitler's sentence, and he was released after nine months. However, Hitler emerged to find his party disintegrated. An upturn in the economy further reduced popular support of the party, and for several years Hitler was forbidden to make speeches in Bavaria and elsewhere in Germany.

The onset of the Great Depression in 1929 brought a new opportunity for the Nazis to solidify their power. Hitler and his followers set about reorganizing the party as a fanatical mass movement, and won financial backing from business leaders, for whom the Nazis promised an end to labor agitation. In the 1930 election, the Nazis won six million votes, making the party the second largest in Germany. Two years later, Hitler challenged Paul von Hindenburg for the presidency, but the 84-year-old president defeated Hitler with the support of an anti-Nazi coalition.

Although the Nazis suffered a decline in votes during the November 1932 election, Hindenburg agreed to make Hitler chancellor in January 1933, hoping that Hitler could be brought to heel as a member of his cabinet. However, Hindenburg underestimated Hitler's political audacity, and one of the new chancellor's first acts was to exploit the burning of the Reichstag (parliament) building as a pretext for calling general elections. The police under Nazi Hermann Goering suppressed much of the party's opposition before the election, and the Nazis won a bare majority. Shortly after, Hitler took on dictatorial power through the Enabling Acts.

Chancellor Hitler immediately set about arresting and executing political opponents, and even purged the Nazis' own SA paramilitary organization in a successful effort to win support from the German army. With the death of President Hindenburg on August 2, 1934, Hitler united the chancellorship and presidency under the new title of Fuhrer. As the economy improved, popular support for Hitler's regime became strong, and a cult of Fuhrer worship was propagated by Hitler's capable propagandists.

German remilitarization and state-sanctioned anti-Semitism drew criticism from abroad, but the foreign powers failed to stem the rise of Nazi Germany. In 1938, Hitler implemented his plans for world domination with the annexation of Austria, and in 1939 Germany seized all of Czechoslovakia. Hitler's invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, finally led to war with Germany and France. In the opening years of World War II, Hitler's war machine won a series of stunning victories, conquering the great part of continental Europe. However, the tide turned in 1942 during Germany's disastrous invasion of the USSR.

By early 1945, the British and Americans were closing in on Germany from the west, the Soviets from the east, and Hitler was holed up in a bunker under the chancellery in Berlin awaiting defeat. On April 30, with the Soviets less than a mile from his headquarters, Hitler committed suicide with Eva Braun, his mistress whom he married the night before.

Hitler left Germany devastated and at the mercy of the Allies, who divided the country and made it a major battlefield of Cold War conflict. His regime exterminated nearly six millions Jews and an estimated 250,000 Gypsies in the Holocaust, and an indeterminable number of Slavs, political dissidents, disabled persons, homosexuals, and others deemed unacceptable by the Nazi regime were systematically eliminated. The war Hitler unleashed upon Europe took even more lives--close to 20 million people killed in the USSR alone. Adolf Hitler is reviled as one of history's greatest villains
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Aug 2, 1939:
Einstein urges U.S. atomic action

From his home on Long Island, New York, German-born physicist Albert Einstein writes to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, urging "watchfulness and, if necessary, quick action" on the part of the United States in atomic research. Einstein, a lifelong pacifist, feared that Nazi Germany had begun work on an atomic bomb.

Einstein's theories of special and general relativity drastically altered man's understanding of the universe, and his work in particle and energy theory helped make possible quantum mechanics and early atomic research. As a German-born Jew, Einstein fled Germany for the United States after Nazi leader Adolf Hitler seized power in 1934.

In the summer of 1939, fellow expatriate physicists Leo Szilard, Eugene Wigner, and Edward Teller, profoundly disturbed by the lack of American atomic action, enlisted the aid of Einstein, hoping that a letter from such a renowned scientist would help attract Roosevelt's attention. Einstein agreed to the venture because of his fear of sole Nazi possession of the deadly weapon, a possibility that became especially troubling after Germany ceased the sale of uranium ore from occupied Czechoslovakia. After reading Einstein's letter, Roosevelt created the Uranium Committee, and in 1942 the highly secret U.S. and British atomic program became known as the Manhattan Project. Einstein had no role in the Allied atomic bomb program.

On July 16, 1945, an international team of scientists successfully tested the world's first atomic bomb in the New Mexico desert. Three weeks later, two U.S. atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, one on August 6 and one on August 9, resulting in the eventual deaths of more than 200,000 people. Albert Einstein deplored the use of the deadly weapon against the population centers of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and after the war he urged international control of atomic weapons.
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Duke of Buckingham
08-03-12, 08:23 AM
Aug 3, 1958:
Nautilus travels under North Pole


On August 3, 1958, the U.S. nuclear submarine Nautilus accomplishes the first undersea voyage to the geographic North Pole. The world's first nuclear submarine, the Nautilus dived at Point Barrow, Alaska, and traveled nearly 1,000 miles under the Arctic ice cap to reach the top of the world. It then steamed on to Iceland, pioneering a new and shorter route from the Pacific to the Atlantic and Europe.

The USS Nautilus was constructed under the direction of U.S. Navy Captain Hyman G. Rickover, a brilliant Russian-born engineer who joined the U.S. atomic program in 1946. In 1947, he was put in charge of the navy's nuclear-propulsion program and began work on an atomic submarine. Regarded as a fanatic by his detractors, Rickover succeeded in developing and delivering the world's first nuclear submarine years ahead of schedule. In 1952, the Nautilus' keel was laid by President Harry S. Truman, and on January 21, 1954, first lady Mamie Eisenhower broke a bottle of champagne across its bow as it was launched into the Thames River at Groton, Connecticut. Commissioned on September 30, 1954, it first ran under nuclear power on the morning of January 17, 1955.

Much larger than the diesel-electric submarines that preceded it, the Nautilus stretched 319 feet and displaced 3,180 tons. It could remain submerged for almost unlimited periods because its atomic engine needed no air and only a very small quantity of nuclear fuel. The uranium-powered nuclear reactor produced steam that drove propulsion turbines, allowing the Nautilus to travel underwater at speeds in excess of 20 knots.

In its early years of service, the USS Nautilus broke numerous submarine travel records and on July 23, 1958, departed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on "Operation Northwest Passage"--the first crossing of the North Pole by submarine. There were 116 men aboard for this historic voyage, including Commander William R. Anderson, 111 officers and crew, and four civilian scientists. The Nautilus steamed north through the Bering Strait and did not surface until it reached Point Barrow, Alaska, in the Beaufort Sea, though it did send its periscope up once off the Diomedes Islands, between Alaska and Siberia, to check for radar bearings. On August 1, the submarine left the north coast of Alaska and dove under the Arctic ice cap.

The submarine traveled at a depth of about 500 feet, and the ice cap above varied in thickness from 10 to 50 feet, with the midnight sun of the Arctic shining in varying degrees through the blue ice. At 11:15 p.m. EDT on August 3, 1958, Commander Anderson announced to his crew: "For the world, our country, and the Navy--the North Pole." The Nautilus passed under the geographic North Pole without pausing. The submarine next surfaced in the Greenland Sea between Spitzbergen and Greenland on August 5. Two days later, it ended its historic journey at Iceland. For the command during the historic journey, President Dwight D. Eisenhower decorated Anderson with the Legion of Merit.

After a career spanning 25 years and almost 500,000 miles steamed, the Nautilus was decommissioned on March 3, 1980. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1982, the world's first nuclear submarine went on exhibit in 1986 as the Historic Ship Nautilus at the Submarine Force Museum in Groton, Connecticut.
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Aug 3, 1977:
"The Spy Who Loved Me" released, features Lotus Esprit


On this day in 1977, "The Spy Who Loved Me," starring Roger Moore as the suave superspy James Bond, known for his love of fast cars and dangerous women, is released in theaters across America. The film features one of the most memorable Bond cars of all time--a sleek, powerful Lotus Esprit sports car that does double duty as a submarine.

As "The Spy Who Loved Me" begins, Bond is sent to investigate the hijacking of British and Soviet submarines loaded with nuclear warheads. To defeat his adversary, shipping tycoon Karl Stromberg (Curt Jurgens), and avert global nuclear war, Bond must free the captured submarines. In one of the film's key sequences, Bond skillfully maneuvers his Lotus Esprit in order to save himself and his Soviet counterpart, the beautiful KGB agent Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach), from the attacks of Stromberg's henchmen. With the sultry helicopter pilot Naomi (Caroline Munro) in pursuit along the coastal roads of Sardinia, Bond drives the Lotus off a pier into the ocean. The car transforms into a submarine, complete with tail fins and a periscope, and Bond is able to blast Naomi's helicopter out of the sky with a sea-to-air missile.

Two different Lotus Esprits were used in the production of "The Spy Who Loved Me," including a specially modified model, dubbed "Wet Nellie," for the filming of the underwater scenes, in Nassau, Bahamas. At the time of filming, the Lotus Esprit was the latest innovation by the Lotus Engineering Company, founded in 1952 by the British engineer and race car driver Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman. After debuting the original styling concept at the Turin Motorshow in 1972, Lotus unveiled the Esprit at the Paris Motor Show in October 1975 and launched its production the following year. Renowned designer Giorgetto Giugiaro (chosen by more than 100 automotive journalists around the world as the winner of the Car Designer of the Century award in 1999) provided the Esprit's sleek styling. While critics praised the car's lightweight frame and superior steering and handling, they gave it lesser marks for power, noise and other more minor points.

In 1980, Lotus launched the Esprit Turbo, which made its own star turn in the 1981 Bond movie "For Your Eyes Only." The company made continued improvements to the Esprit line throughout the next two decades, and in 1992 celebrated the 20th anniversary of the car's initial introduction in Turin and its place among the world's fastest and most respected sports cars. Esprit production ended in 2003.
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Aug 3, 1948:
Chambers accuses Hiss of being a communist spy


In hearings before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), Whittaker Chambers accuses former State Department official Alger Hiss of being a communist and a spy for the Soviet Union. The accusation set into motion a series of events that eventually resulted in the trial and conviction of Hiss for perjury.

Chambers was a little known figure prior to his 1948 appearance before HUAC. He was a self-professed former member of the Communist Party. Chambers also admitted to having served as a spy for the Soviet Union. He left the Communist Party in 1938 and offered his services to the FBI as an informant on communist activities in the United States. By 1948, he was serving as an editor for Time magazine. At that time, HUAC was involved in a series of hearings investigating communist machinations in the United States. Chambers was called as a witness, and he appeared before the committee on August 3, 1948. He dropped a bombshell during his testimony. Chambers accused former State Department official Alger Hiss of having been a communist and a spy during the 1930s. Hiss was one of the most respected men in Washington. He had been heavily involved in America's wartime diplomacy and attended the Yalta and Potsdam conferences as an American representative. In 1948, he was serving as president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Hiss angrily denied the charges and declared that he did not even know Whittaker Chambers. He later admitted that he knew Chambers, but at the time he had been using a different name--George Crosley. In the weeks that followed Chambers' appearance before HUAC, the two men exchanged charges and countercharges and their respective stories became more and more muddled. Finally, after Chambers publicly declared that Hiss had been a communist "and may be one now," Hiss filed a slander suit. During the course of that trial, Chambers produced microfilmed copies of classified State Department documents from the 1930s, which he had hidden in hollowed-out pumpkins on his farm. The "Pumpkin Papers" were used as evidence to support his claim that Hiss had passed the papers to him for delivery to the Soviets. Based on this evidence, Hiss was indicted for perjury for lying to HUAC and a federal grand jury about his membership in the Communist Party. The statute of limitations had run out for other charges related to his supposed activities in the 1930s. After the first trial ended with a hung jury, Hiss was convicted in January 1950 and served 44 months in jail. Hiss always maintained his complete innocence. For his part, Chambers remained equally adamant in his accusations about Hiss.
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Aug 3, 1982:
Sodomy arrest sparks controversy


Michael Hardwick is arrested for sodomy after a police officer observes him having sex with another man in his own bedroom in Georgia. Although the district attorney eventually dropped the charges, Hardwick decided to challenge the constitutionality of Georgia's law.

"John and Mary Doe," who joined in Hardwick's suit against Michael Bowers, the attorney general of Georgia, maintained that the Georgia law "chilled and deterred" them from engaging in certain types of sex in their home. But in 1986, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, ruling by a 5-4 vote that states could continue to treat certain types of consensual sex as criminal acts.

Apparently, Justice Byron White had characterized the issue not as the right to privacy in one's own bedroom, but rather as the right to commit sodomy. Viewed in this narrow manner, it was no surprise that he was unable to find such a clause in the Constitution. Justice Lewis Powell, who also voted to uphold the law, later called his vote a mistake.

In June 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Texas law under which two men had been arrested for having consensual sex at home. The 6-3 Lawrence v. Texas decision reversed the infamous 1986 Bowers decision and finally dealt a death blow to sodomy laws throughout the country.


Aug 3, 1988:
Soviets release Mathias Rust


On August 3, 1988, Soviet authorities free Mathias Rust, the daring young West German pilot who landed a rented Cessna on Moscow's Red Square in 1987. Rust was serving a four-year sentence at a labor camp when the Soviets approved his extradition as a goodwill gesture to the West.

On May 28, 1987, Rust, a 19-year-old with less than 40 hours of flying time, flew the light plane from Helsinki, Finland, to Red Square, the site of the Kremlin, Lenin's Tomb, and frequent Soviet patriotic demonstrations. He had not been detected once during the 500-mile flight. Rust said his flight was in the interest of world peace, and he signed autographs in Red Square until he was arrested. His seemingly effortless penetration of Soviet air space raised serious questions about the USSR's ability to defend itself from air attack.
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zombie67
08-03-12, 03:42 PM
Still hilarious!


Aug 3, 1988:
Soviets release Mathias Rust


On August 3, 1988, Soviet authorities free Mathias Rust, the daring young West German pilot who landed a rented Cessna on Moscow's Red Square in 1987. Rust was serving a four-year sentence at a labor camp when the Soviets approved his extradition as a goodwill gesture to the West.

On May 28, 1987, Rust, a 19-year-old with less than 40 hours of flying time, flew the light plane from Helsinki, Finland, to Red Square, the site of the Kremlin, Lenin's Tomb, and frequent Soviet patriotic demonstrations. He had not been detected once during the 500-mile flight. Rust said his flight was in the interest of world peace, and he signed autographs in Red Square until he was arrested. His seemingly effortless penetration of Soviet air space raised serious questions about the USSR's ability to defend itself from air attack.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/14/Flugroute_von_Mathias_Rust.svg/300px-Flugroute_von_Mathias_Rust.svg.png

Duke of Buckingham
08-04-12, 04:00 PM
Aug 4, 1944:
Anne Frank captured

Acting on tip from a Dutch informer, the Nazi Gestapo captures 15-year-old Jewish diarist Anne Frank and her family in a sealed-off area of an Amsterdam warehouse. The Franks had taken shelter there in 1942 out of fear of deportation to a Nazi concentration camp. They occupied the small space with another Jewish family and a single Jewish man, and were aided by Christian friends, who brought them food and supplies. Anne spent much of her time in the "secret annex" working on her diary. The diary survived the war, overlooked by the Gestapo that discovered the hiding place, but Anne and nearly all of the others perished in the Nazi death camps.

Annelies Marie Frank was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, on June 12, 1929. She was the second daughter of Otto Frank and Edith Frank-Hollander, both of Jewish families that had lived in Germany for centuries. With the rise of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in 1933, Otto moved his family to Amsterdam to escape the escalating Nazi persecution of Jews. In Holland, he ran a successful spice and jam business. Anne attended a Montessori school with other middle-class Dutch children, but with the German invasion of the Netherlands in 1940 she was forced to transfer to a Jewish school. In 1942, Otto began arranging a hiding place in an annex of his warehouse on the Prinsengracht Canal in Amsterdam.

On her 13th birthday in 1942, Anne began a diary relating her everyday experiences, her relationship with her family and friends, and observations about the increasingly dangerous world around her. Less than a month later, Anne's older sister, Margot, received a call-up notice to report to a Nazi "work camp." Fearing deportation to a Nazi concentration camp, the Frank family took shelter in the secret annex the next day. One week later, they were joined by Otto Frank's business partner and his family. In November, a Jewish dentist—the eighth occupant of the hiding place—joined the group.

For two years, Anne kept a diary about her life in hiding that is marked with poignancy, humor, and insight. The entrance to the secret annex was hidden by a hinged bookcase, and former employees of Otto and other Dutch friends delivered them food and supplies procured at high risk. Anne and the others lived in rooms with blacked-out windows, and never flushed the toilet during the day out of fear that their presence would be detected. In June 1944, Anne's spirits were raised by the Allied landing at Normandy, and she was hopeful that the long-awaited liberation of Holland would soon begin.

On August 1, 1944, Anne made her last entry in her diary. Three days later, 25 months of seclusion ended with the arrival of the Nazi Gestapo. Anne and the others had been given away by an unknown informer, and they were arrested along with two of the Christians who had helped shelter them. They were sent to a concentration camp in Holland, and in September Anne and most of the others were shipped to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. In the fall of 1944, with the Soviet liberation of Poland underway, Anne was moved with her sister Margot to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. Suffering under the deplorable conditions of the camp, the two sisters caught typhus and died in early March 1945. The camp was liberated by the British less than two months later.

Otto Frank was the only one of the 10 to survive the Nazi death camps. After the war, he returned to Amsterdam via Russia, and was reunited with Miep Gies, one of his former employees who had helped shelter him. She handed him Anne's diary, which she had found undisturbed after the Nazi raid. In 1947, Anne's diary was published by Otto in its original Dutch as Diary of a Young Girl. An instant best-seller and eventually translated into more than 50 languages, The Diary of Anne Frank has served as a literary testament to the nearly six million Jews, including Anne herself, who were silenced in the Holocaust.

The Frank family's hideaway at Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam opened as a museum in 1960. A new English translation of Anne's diary in 1995 restored material that had been edited out of the original version, making the work nearly a third longer.
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Aug 4, 1953:
Eisenhower warns of "ominous" situation in Asia

Speaking before the Governor's Conference in Seattle, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warns that the situation in Asia is becoming "very ominous for the United States." In the speech, Eisenhower made specific reference to the need to defend French Indochina from the communists.

By 1953, U.S. officials were becoming increasingly concerned with events in Asia and elsewhere in the so-called "Third World." During the early years of the Cold War (1945 to 1950), the focus of America's anticommunist foreign policy was on Europe. With the outbreak of war in Korea in 1950, however, the American government began to shift its focus to other areas of the globe, particularly Asia. During the presidential campaign of 1952, Eisenhower was harshly critical of President Harry S. Truman's foreign policy, declaring that too little attention had been paid to Asia and that the Korean War was the result of ignoring communist intentions in that corner of the world. Shortly after taking office in early 1953, the victorious Eisenhower adopted a "get tough" policy toward the situation in Korea, even hinting that nuclear weapons might be employed to break the military stalemate between U.S. and communist forces. On July 27, 1953, an armistice was signed, bringing the Korean War to an end.

Just over a week later, Eisenhower addressed the Governor's Conference and suggested that the communist danger in Asia was far from over. He specifically noted the communist threat in French Indochina, where the French military was battling Vietnamese revolutionaries for control of Vietnam. Eisenhower defended his decision to approve a $400 million aid package to help the French in their effort as "the cheapest way that we can prevent the occurrence that would be of most terrible significance to the United States." According to Eisenhower, communist victory in Indochina would have far-reaching consequences. "Now let us assume that we lose Indochina. If Indochina goes, several things happen right away. The Malay Peninsula, that last little bit of land hanging on down there, would be scarcely defensible. The tin and tungsten that we so greatly value from that area would cease coming." One by one, other Asian nations would be toppled. "So you see, somewhere along that line, this must be blocked and it must be blocked now."

Eisenhower's speech marked the first appearance of what would come to be known as the "domino theory"--the idea that the loss of Indochina to communism would lead to other Asian nations following suit, like a row of dominos. The speech also indicated that the United States was fully committed to the defense of Indochina to prevent this possibility. After the defeat of the French in 1954, America took France's place in fighting the Vietnamese communist revolutionaries, thus beginning its slow but steady immersion into the Vietnam War.
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Aug 4, 1892:
Lizzie Borden took an axe...

Andrew and Abby Borden, elderly residents of Fall River, Massachusetts, are found bludgeoned to death in their home. Lying in a pool of blood on the living room couch, Andrew's face had been nearly split in two. Abby, Lizzie's stepmother, was found upstairs with her head smashed to pieces.

The Bordens, who were considerably wealthy, lived with their two unmarried daughters, Emma and Lizzie. Since Lizzie was the only other person besides the housekeeper who was present when the bodies were found, suspicion soon fell upon her. Because of the sensational nature of the murders, the trial attracted attention from around the nation.

Despite the fact that fingerprint testing was already becoming commonplace in Europe at the time, the police were wary of its reliability, and refused to test for prints on the murder weapon—a hatchet—found in the Borden's basement. The prosecution tried to prove that Lizzie had burned a dress similar to the one she was wearing on the day of the murders and had purchased a small axe the day before. But Lizzie was a sweet-looking Christian woman and the jury took only 90 minutes to decide that she could never commit such a heinous crime.

Although she was now an orphaned heiress rather than a convicted murderess, the media continued to portray Lizzie as the perpetrator. Her story is still remembered today mostly because of the infamous rhyme:

Lizzie Borden took an axe,
And gave her mother forty whacks;
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.

Ignoring the taunts, Lizzie lived the high life until her death in 1927. She was buried in the family plot next to her parents.
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Aug 4, 1972:
Philippines hit hard by flooding

Floodwaters finally recede in Luzon, Philippines, on this day in 1972, revealing devastation and hundreds dead. An astounding rainfall in July had caused rivers all over the large island to flood.

One storm after another battered Luzon in July 1972. Manila received nearly 70 inches of rain during the month. On July 13, a monsoon caused several dikes to fail and 32 people lost their lives in the resulting flood. Less than a week later, a typhoon dropped even more rain on the already saturated region. Dikes throughout the area broke down, flooding large swaths of land. Millions were left homeless and 142 people died. Nearly all major and minor roads were under water or mud.

The flooding continued until the rivers finally peaked on August 4. In addition to the thousands of people forced from their homes, the rice crop for the season was lost. Food riots broke out in several places and looting was rampant. Cholera and typhoid epidemics also resulted.
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Aug 4, 1964:
Slain civil rights workers found

The remains of three civil rights workers whose disappearance on June 21 garnered national attention are found buried in an earthen dam near Philadelphia, Mississippi. Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, both white New Yorkers, had traveled to heavily segregated Mississippi in 1964 to help organize civil rights efforts on behalf of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). The third man, James Chaney, was a local African American man who had joined CORE in 1963. The disappearance of the three young men led to a massive FBI investigation that was code-named MIBURN, for "Mississippi Burning."

Michael Schwerner, who arrived in Mississippi as a CORE field worker in January 1964, aroused the animosity of white supremacists after he organized a successful black boycott of a variety store in the city of Meridian and led voting registration efforts for African Americans. In May, Sam Bowers, the Imperial Wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi, sent word that the 24-year-old Schwerner, nicknamed "Goatee" and "Jew-Boy" by the KKK, was to be eliminated. On the evening of June 16, two dozen armed Klansmen descended on Mt. Zion Methodist Church, an African American church in Neshoba County that Schwerner had arranged to use as a "Freedom School." Schwerner was not there at the time, but the Klansmen beat several African Americans present and then torched the church.

On January 20, Schwerner returned from a civil rights training session in Ohio with 21-year-old James Chaney and 20-year-old Andrew Goodman, a new recruit to CORE. The next day--June 21--the three went to investigate the burning of the church in Neshoba. While attempting to drive back to Meridian, they were stopped by Neshoba County Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price just inside the city limits of Philadelphia, the county seat. Price, a member of the KKK who had been looking out for Schwerner or other civil rights workers, threw them in the Neshoba County jail, allegedly under suspicion for church arson.

After seven hours in jail, during which the men were not allowed to make a phone call, Price released them on bail. After escorting them out of town, the deputy returned to Philadelphia to drop off an accompanying Philadelphia police officer. As soon as he was alone, he raced down the highway in pursuit of the three civil rights workers. He caught the men just inside county limits and loaded them into his car. Two other cars pulled up filled with Klansmen who had been alerted by Price of the capture of the CORE workers, and the three cars drove down an unmarked dirt road called Rock Cut Road. Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney were shot to death and their bodies buried in an earthen dam a few miles from the Mt. Zion Methodist Church.

The next day, the FBI began an investigation into the disappearance of the civil rights workers. On June 23, the case drew national headlines, and federal agents found the workers' burned station wagon. Under pressure from Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, the FBI escalated the investigation, which eventually involved more than 200 FBI agents and scores of federal troops who combed the woods and swamps looking for the bodies. The incident provided the final impetus needed for the 1964 Civil Rights Act to pass Congress on July 2, and eight days later FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover came to Mississippi to open a new Bureau office. Eventually, Delmar Dennis, a Klansman and one of the participants in the murders, was paid $30,000 and offered immunity from prosecution in exchange for information. On August 4, the remains of the three young men were found. The culprits were identified, but the state of Mississippi made no arrests.

Finally, on December 4, nineteen men, including Deputy Price, were indicted by the U.S. Justice Department for violating the civil rights of Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney (charging the suspects with civil rights violations was the only way to give the federal government jurisdiction in the case). After nearly three years of legal wrangling, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately defended the indictments, the men went on trial in Jackson, Mississippi. The trial was presided over by an ardent segregationist, U.S. District Judge William Cox, but under pressure from federal authorities and fearing impeachment, he took the case seriously. On October 27, 1967, an all-white jury found seven of the men guilty, including Price and KKK Imperial Wizard Bowers. Nine were acquitted, and the jury deadlocked on three others. The mixed verdict was hailed as a major civil rights victory, as no one in Mississippi had ever before been convicted for actions taken against a civil rights worker.

In December, Judge Cox sentenced the men to prison terms ranging from three to 10 years. After sentencing, he said, "They killed one nigger, one Jew, and a white man. I gave them what I thought they deserved." None of the convicted men served more than six years behind bars.

On June 21, 2005, the forty-first anniversary of the three murders, Edgar Ray Killen, was found guilty of three counts of manslaughter. At eighty years of age and best known as an outspoken white supremacist and part-time Baptist minister, he was sentenced to 60 years in prison.
http://craighillnet.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/aug-04-michael-schwerner-james-chaney-andrew-goodman.jpg


Aug 4, 1753:
Washington receives highest Freemason rank


On this day in 1753, 21-year-old Virginian George Washington is declared a Master Mason in a Masonic ritual performed by his fellow Freemasons during a secret ceremony in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Washington, who belonged to Alexandria Lodge No. 22, had been initiated into the Masons at age 20 on November 4, 1752. The following year, on March 3, 1753, he passed as a "Fellow Craft." Five months later, Washington was raised to the rank of Master Mason.

According to the Library of Congress, the secret society of Freemasons emerged from the medieval English guild system and was brought to America in the early 1700s. For many young men, becoming a Freemason constituted a rite of passage to adulthood and "civic responsibility." Members of Masonic lodges were required to profess belief in a supreme being, as well as in the soul's immortality, and were expected to promote, in Washington's words, "private virtue and public prosperity" and advocate for religious tolerance. Fellow Masons referred to each other as "Brother."

According to published eyewitness reports, "Brother Washington" performed Masonic rites at the laying of the U.S. Capitol's cornerstone on September 18, 1793. Wearing an apron embroidered with Masonic symbols, Washington led a ceremony laced with the society's rituals. The apron, along with the trowel and tools used to set the Capitol's cornerstone in place, is currently housed at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia.

In 1923, the national organization of Freemasons purchased the former Revolutionary War site of Shooter's Hill in Alexandria, Virginia, in order to build a monument to their most esteemed Brother Washington. Assisting in the groundbreaking ceremonies were President Calvin Coolidge and former President William H. Taft, both Masons. Harry Truman, a former Grand Master Mason for Missouri, dedicated a statue of Washington at the memorial in 1950.

Other Freemason presidents include James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, James Polk, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, James Garfield, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Warren Harding, Franklin Roosevelt and Gerald Ford.
http://www.georgewashingtonwired.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/freemason_washington.jpg

Duke of Buckingham
08-05-12, 09:43 AM
Aug 5, 2002:
Divers recover U.S.S. Monitor turret

On this day in 2002, the rusty iron gun turret of the U.S.S. Monitor broke from the water and into the daylight for the first time in 140 years. The ironclad warship was raised from the floor of the Atlantic, where it had rested since it went down in a storm off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, during the Civil War. Divers had been working for six weeks to bring it to the surface.

Nine months before sinking into its watery grave, the Monitor had been part of a revolution in naval warfare. On March 9, 1862, it dueled to a standstill with the C.S.S. Virginia (originally the C.S.S. Merrimack) in one of the most famous moments in naval history–the first time two ironclads faced each other in a naval engagement. During the battle, the two ships circled one another, jockeying for position as they fired their guns. The cannon balls simply deflected off the iron ships. In the early afternoon, the Virginia pulled back to Norfolk. Neither ship was seriously damaged, but the Monitor effectively ended the short reign of terror that the Confederate ironclad had brought to the Union navy.

Designed by Swedish engineer John Ericsson, the Monitor had an unusually low profile, rising from the water only 18 inches. The flat iron deck had a 20-foot cylindrical turret rising from the middle of the ship; the turret housed two 11-inch Dahlgren guns. The shift had a draft of less than 11 feet so it could operate in the shallow harbors and rivers of the South. It was commissioned on February 25, 1862, and arrived at Chesapeake Bay just in time to engage the Virginia.

After the famous duel, the Monitor provided gun support on the James River for George B. McClellan's Peninsular Campaign. By December 1862, it was clear the ship was no longer needed in Virginia, so she was sent to Beaufort, North Carolina, to join a fleet being assembled for an attack on Charleston. The Monitor served well in the sheltered waters of Chesapeake Bay, but the heavy, low-slung ship was a poor craft for the open sea. The U.S.S. Rhode Island towed the ironclad around the rough waters of Cape Hatteras. As the Monitor pitched and swayed in the rough seas, the caulking around the gun turret loosened and water began to leak into the hull. More leaks developed as the journey continued. High seas tossed the craft, causing the ship's flat armor bottom to slap the water. Each roll opened more seams, and by nightfall on December 30, the Monitor was in dire straits.

That evening, the Monitor's commander, J.P. Bankhead, signaled the Rhode Island that he wished to abandon ship. The wooden side-wheeler pulled as close as safety allowed to the stricken ironclad, and two lifeboats were lowered to retrieve the crew. Many of the sailors were rescued, but some men were terrified to venture onto the deck in such rough seas. The ironclad's pumps stopped working, and the ship sank before 16 of its crew members could be rescued. The remains of two of these sailors were discovered by divers during the Monitor’s 2002 reemergence.

Many of the ironclad’s artifacts are now on display at the Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia.
http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories/images/monitor-turretunderwater.jpg


Aug 5, 1914:
First electric traffic signal installed

The world's first electric traffic signal is put into place on the corner of Euclid Avenue and East 105th Street in Cleveland, Ohio, on this day in 1914.

In the earliest days of the automobile, navigating America's roads was a chaotic experience, with pedestrians, bicycles, horses and streetcars all competing with motor vehicles for right of way. The problem was alleviated somewhat with the gradual disappearance of horse-drawn carriages, but even before World War I it had become clear that a system of regulations was necessary to keep traffic moving and reduce the number of accidents on the roads. As Christopher Finch writes in his "Highways to Heaven: The AUTO Biography of America" (1992), the first traffic island was put into use in San Francisco, California in 1907; left-hand drive became standard in American cars in 1908; the first center painted dividing line appeared in 1911, in Michigan; and the first "No Left Turn" sign would debut in Buffalo, New York, in 1916.

Various competing claims exist as to who was responsible for the world's first traffic signal. A device installed in London in 1868 featured two semaphore arms that extended horizontally to signal "stop" and at a 45-degree angle to signal "caution." In 1912, a Salt Lake City, Utah, police officer named Lester Wire mounted a handmade wooden box with colored red and green lights on a pole, with the wires attached to overhead trolley and light wires. Most prominently, the inventor Garrett Morgan has been given credit for having invented the traffic signal based on his T-shaped design, patented in 1923 and later reportedly sold to General Electric.

Despite Morgan's greater visibility, the system installed in Cleveland on August 5, 1914, is widely regarded as the first electric traffic signal. Based on a design by James Hoge, who received U.S. patent 1,251,666 for his "Municipal Traffic Control System" in 1918, it consisted of four pairs of red and green lights that served as stop-go indicators, each mounted on a corner post. Wired to a manually operated switch inside a control booth, the system was configured so that conflicting signals were impossible. According to an article in The Motorist, published by the Cleveland Automobile Club in August 1914: "This system is, perhaps, destined to revolutionize the handling of traffic in congested city streets and should be seriously considered by traffic committees for general adoption."
http://www.wired.com/images/article/full/2007/11/traffic_signal580x.jpg


Aug 5, 1963:
Nuclear Test Ban Treaty signed

Representatives of the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain sign the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which prohibited the testing of nuclear weapons in outer space, underwater, or in the atmosphere. The treaty was hailed as an important first step toward the control of nuclear weapons.

Discussions between the United States and the Soviet Union concerning a ban on nuclear testing began in the mid-1950s. Officials from both nations came to believe that the nuclear arms race was reaching a dangerous level. In addition, public protest against the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons was gaining strength. Nevertheless, talks between the two nations (later joined by Great Britain) dragged on for years, usually collapsing when the issue of verification was raised. The Americans and British wanted on-site inspections, something the Soviets vehemently opposed. In 1960, the three sides seemed close to an agreement, but the downing of an American spy plan over the Soviet Union in May brought negotiations to an end.

The Cuban Missile Crisis provided a major impetus for reinvigorating the talks in October 1962. The Soviets attempted to install nuclear-capable missiles in Cuba, bringing the Soviet Union and the United States to the brink of a nuclear war. Cooler heads prevailed and the crisis passed, but the other possible scenarios were not lost on U.S. and Russian officials. In June 1963, the test ban negotiations resumed, with compromises from all sides. On August 5, British, American, and Russian representatives signed the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. France and China were asked to join the agreement but refused.

The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was a small but significant step toward the control of nuclear weapons. In the years to come, discussions between the United States and the Soviet Union grew to include limits on many nuclear weapons and the elimination of others.
http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/thisdayintech/2009/08/treaty.jpg


Aug 5, 1998:
Mother charged with smothering her eight children

On August 5, 1998, Marie Noe, age 70, is arrested at her Philadelphia home and charged in the smothering deaths of eight of her children, who died between 1949 and 1968.

Each of the eight infants was reportedly healthy at birth, but later died when home alone with Noe. At the time, the deaths were attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Noe and her husband Arthur had two other children who died from natural causes--one was stillborn and the other passed away at the hospital shortly after birth. Suspicion swirled around Marie Noe as the death toll mounted, but police lacked evidence to charge her with any crime. In the 1990s, a magazine article put the case back in the spotlight. In August 1998, Noe confessed to killing four of her children but claimed she couldn’t remember what happened to the other four. None of the children had lived beyond 14 months. Arthur Noe was not charged in the murders of his children. In June 1999, Noe was given 20 years probation and ordered to spend five years under house arrest.

In a case with eerie parallels to Noe’s, Mary Beth Tinning’s nine healthy children died suddenly and mysteriously between 1972 and 1985. None made it to the age of five. The children all died while home alone with Tinning, of Schenectady, New York, who claimed she found them unconscious. In 1987, Tinning was convicted of smothering her 3-month-old infant daughter Tami Lynne to death two years earlier. She was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.

Other infamous instances of infanticide in the United States include Susan Smith of South Carolina, who in 1994 drove a car with her two young sons into a lake. Smith, who initially blamed the boys’ disappearance on a carjacker, was later convicted and sentenced to life in prison. In another case, Andrea Yates drowned her five young children in a bathtub in June 2001. After being convicted of first-degree murder, Yates’ conviction was overturned and she was found not guilty by reason of insanity. She was committed to a state mental health facility in Texas.
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Aug 5, 1962:
Marilyn Monroe is found dead

On August 5, 1962, movie actress Marilyn Monroe is found dead in her home in Los Angeles. She was discovered lying nude on her bed, face down, with a telephone in one hand. Empty bottles of pills, prescribed to treat her depression, were littered around the room. After a brief investigation, Los Angeles police concluded that her death was "caused by a self-administered overdose of sedative drugs and that the mode of death is probable suicide."

Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jean Mortenson in Los Angeles on June 1, 1926. Her mother was emotionally unstable and frequently confined to an asylum, so Norma Jean was reared by a succession of foster parents and in an orphanage. At the age of 16, she married a fellow worker in an aircraft factory, but they divorced a few years later. She took up modeling in 1944 and in 1946 signed a short-term contract with 20th Century Fox, taking as her screen name Marilyn Monroe. She had a few bit parts and then returned to modeling, famously posing nude for a calendar in 1949.

She began to attract attention as an actress in 1950 after appearing in minor roles in the The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve. Although she was onscreen only briefly playing a mistress in both films, audiences took note of the blonde bombshell, and she won a new contract from Fox. Her acting career took off in the early 1950s with performances in Love Nest (1951), Monkey Business (1952), and Niagara (1953). Celebrated for her voluptuousness and wide-eyed charm, she won international fame for her sex-symbol roles in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), and There's No Business Like Show Business (1954). The Seven-Year Itch (1955) showcased her comedic talents and features the classic scene where she stands over a subway grating and has her white skirt billowed up by the wind from a passing train. In 1954, she married baseball great Joe DiMaggio, attracting further publicity, but they divorced eight months later.

In 1955, she studied with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio in New York City and subsequently gave a strong performance as a hapless entertainer in Bus Stop (1956). In 1956, she married playwright Arthur Miller. She made The Prince and the Showgirl--a critical and commercial failure--with Laurence Olivier in 1957 but in 1959 gave an acclaimed performance in the hit comedy Some Like It Hot. Her last role, in The Misfits (1961), was directed by John Huston and written by Miller, whom she divorced just one week before the film's opening.

By 1961, Monroe, beset by depression, was under the constant care of a psychiatrist. Increasingly erratic in the last months of her life, she lived as a virtual recluse in her Brentwood, Los Angeles, home. After midnight on August 5, 1962, her maid, Eunice Murray, noticed Monroe's bedroom light on. When Murray found the door locked and Marilyn unresponsive to her calls, she called Monroe's psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson, who gained access to the room by breaking a window. Entering, he found Marilyn dead, and the police were called sometime after. An autopsy found a fatal amount of sedatives in her system, and her death was ruled probable suicide.

In recent decades, there have been a number of conspiracy theories about her death, most of which contend that she was murdered by John and/or Robert Kennedy, with whom she allegedly had love affairs. These theories claim that the Kennedys killed her (or had her killed) because they feared she would make public their love affairs and other government secrets she was gathering. On August 4, 1962, Robert Kennedy, then attorney general in his older brother's cabinet, was in fact in Los Angeles. Two decades after the fact, Monroe's housekeeper, Eunice Murray, announced for the first time that the attorney general had visited Marilyn on the night of her death and quarreled with her, but the reliability of these and other statements made by Murray are questionable.

Four decades after her death, Marilyn Monroe remains a major cultural icon. The unknown details of her final performance only add to her mystique.
http://www.theprovince.com/entertainment/movie-guide/7039356.bin


Aug 5, 1944:
Hundreds of Jews are freed from forced labor in Warsaw

On this day in 1944, Polish insurgents liberate a German forced-labor camp in Warsaw, freeing 348 Jewish prisoners, who join in a general uprising against the German occupiers of the city.

As the Red Army advanced on Warsaw in July, Polish patriots, still loyal to their government-in-exile back in London, prepared to overthrow their German occupiers. On July 29, the Polish Home Army (underground), the People's Army (a communist guerilla movement), and armed civilians took back two-thirds of Warsaw from the Germans. On August 4, the Germans counterattacked, mowing down Polish civilians with machine-gun fire. By August 5, more than 15,000 Poles were dead. The Polish command cried to the Allies for help. Churchill telegraphed Stalin, informing him that the British intended to drop ammunition and other supplies into the southwest quarter of Warsaw to aid the insurgents. The prime minister asked Stalin to aid in the insurgents' cause. Stalin balked, claiming the insurgency was too insignificant to waste time with.

Britain succeeded to getting some aid to the Polish patriots, but the Germans also succeeded-in dropping incendiary bombs. The Poles fought on, and on August 5 they freed Jewish forced laborers who then joined in the battle, some of whom formed a special platoon dedicated solely to repairing captured German tanks for use in the struggle.

The Poles would battle on for weeks against German reinforcements, and without Soviet help, as Joseph Stalin had his own plans for Poland.
http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/nazioccupation/images/Mogilev%20Jews%20at%20forced%20labour.jpg

Duke of Buckingham
08-06-12, 06:51 AM
Aug 6, 1945:
American bomber drops atomic bomb on Hiroshima


On this day in 1945, at 8:16 a.m. Japanese time, an American B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay, drops the world's first atom bomb, over the city of Hiroshima. Approximately 80,000 people are killed as a direct result of the blast, and another 35,000 are injured. At least another 60,000 would be dead by the end of the year from the effects of the fallout.

U.S. President Harry S. Truman, discouraged by the Japanese response to the Potsdam Conference's demand for unconditional surrender, made the decision to use the atom bomb to end the war in order to prevent what he predicted would be a much greater loss of life were the United States to invade the Japanese mainland. And so on August 5, while a "conventional" bombing of Japan was underway, "Little Boy," (the nickname for one of two atom bombs available for use against Japan), was loaded onto Lt. Col. Paul W. Tibbets' plane on Tinian Island in the Marianas. Tibbets' B-29, named the Enola Gay after his mother, left the island at 2:45 a.m. on August 6. Five and a half hours later, "Little Boy" was dropped, exploding 1,900 feet over a hospital and unleashing the equivalent of 12,500 tons of TNT. The bomb had several inscriptions scribbled on its shell, one of which read "Greetings to the Emperor from the men of the Indianapolis" (the ship that transported the bomb to the Marianas).

There were 90,000 buildings in Hiroshima before the bomb was dropped; only 28,000 remained after the bombing. Of the city's 200 doctors before the explosion; only 20 were left alive or capable of working. There were 1,780 nurses before-only 150 remained who were able to tend to the sick and dying.

According to John Hersey's classic work Hiroshima, the Hiroshima city government had put hundreds of schoolgirls to work clearing fire lanes in the event of incendiary bomb attacks. They were out in the open when the Enola Gay dropped its load.

There were so many spontaneous fires set as a result of the bomb that a crewman of the Enola Gay stopped trying to count them. Another crewman remarked, "It's pretty terrific. What a relief it worked."
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Aug 6, 1930:
Joseph Force Crater becomes the missingest man in New York


On this day in 1930, New York Supreme Court judge Joseph Force Crater vanished on the streets of Manhattan near Times Square. The dapper 41-year-old’s disappearance launched a massive investigation that captivated the nation, earning Crater the title of “the missingest man in New York.”

Born to Irish immigrants in 1889, Crater grew up in Pennsylvania and received his law degree from Columbia University in 1916. As he worked his way up from a lowly clerk to a successful lawyer, he cultivated numerous political connections throughout New York City. In April 1930, Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Crater to the state bench, passing over the official candidate put forth by the powerful and corrupt Tammany Hall political machine. Rumors swirled that Crater, whose alleged fondness for showgirls had already earned him a shady reputation, had paid off the Tammany bosses for his lucrative new job.

A few months later, on August 3, 1930, Crater returned to New York from a trip to Maine, leaving behind his wife, Stella, and promising to return within a week. His law clerk later reported that, on the morning of August 6, the judge destroyed various documents, moved several portfolios of papers to his Fifth Avenue apartment and arranged for $5,000 to be withdrawn from his bank account. That evening, he left his office, bought a ticket to the Broadway comedy “Dancing Partner” and shared a meal with his lawyer friend William Klein and a showgirl named Sally Lou Ritz at a Manhattan chophouse. His dining companions claimed they last saw Crater walking down the street outside the restaurant, presumably on his way to attend the play.

News of Crater’s disappearance broke on September 3, triggering a dramatic manhunt and investigation. The missing judge’s suspicious behavior in the days leading up to his disappearance spawned rampant speculation that he had fled the country with a mistress or been a victim of foul play. His sensational story captured so much media attention that the phrase “pulling a Crater” briefly entered the public vernacular as a synonym for going AWOL. Comedians, meanwhile, seized upon the unsolved case as fodder for their standup routines, using the line “Judge Crater, call your office” as a standard gag.

At his wife’s request, Joseph Force Crater was declared legally dead in 1939. In 2005, New York police revealed that new evidence had emerged in the case of the city’s missingest man. A woman who had died earlier that year had left a handwritten note in which she claimed that her husband and several other men, including a police officer, had murdered Crater and buried his body beneath a section of the Coney Island boardwalk. That site had been excavated during the construction of the New York Aquarium in the 1950s, long before technology existed to detect and identify human remains. As a result, the question of whether Judge Crater sleeps with the fishes remains a mystery.
https://ariel51.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/judge-joseph-force-crater.jpg?w=640


Aug 6, 1997:
Planes crashes in Guam jungle
A Korean Air Boeing 747 crashes in Guam, killing 228 people on this day in 1997. An inexperienced crew and poor air-traffic policies on the island territory contributed to the disaster.

Flight 801, carrying 254 passengers and crew members from Seoul, South Korea, came in toward Guam at about 1:40 a.m. in the midst of a rainstorm. The captain and pilot of the plane had already flown several flights during the day and were beginning to show signs of fatigue. Ordinarily, a tired pilot has several backup systems to prevent crashes, but, on this night, there were no such protections.

The plane's minimum safe altitude warning system was not operational due to computer software problems. In addition, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees the A.B. Won Guam International Airport in Agana, had not maintained the air-traffic infrastructure properly--only one localizer, a device that shows where a plane is in relation to the runway, was working that night. Furthermore, many believe that the private air-traffic controllers employed at the airport following the notorious 1981 strike were not as vigilant and effective as the former controllers.

Flight 801 missed the runway by several miles and slammed into the jungle, killing nearly everyone onboard. Remarkably, rescue workers managed to make their way through the thick jungle at night, rescuing the 22 passengers and 3 crew members who were still alive.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/ed/Korean_Air_Flight_801_wreckage.jpg/640px-Korean_Air_Flight_801_wreckage.jpg


Aug 6, 1890:
First execution by electric chair


At Auburn Prison in New York, the first execution by electrocution in history is carried out against William Kemmler, who had been convicted of murdering his lover, Matilda Ziegler, with an axe.

Electrocution as a humane means of execution was first suggested in 1881 by Dr. Albert Southwick, a dentist. Southwick had witnessed an elderly drunkard "painlessly" killed after touching the terminals of an electrical generator in Buffalo, New York. In the prevalent form of execution at the time--death by hanging--the condemned were known to hang by their broken necks for up to 30 minutes before succumbing to asphyxiation.

In 1889, New York's Electrical Execution Law, the first of its kind in the world, went into effect, and Edwin R. Davis, the Auburn Prison electrician, was commissioned to design an electric chair. Closely resembling the modern device, Davis' chair was fitted with two electrodes, which were composed of metal disks held together with rubber and covered with a damp sponge. The electrodes were to be applied to the criminal's head and back.

On August 6, 1890, William Kemmler became the first person to be sent to the chair. After he was strapped in, a charge of approximately 700 volts was delivered for only 17 seconds before the current failed. Although witnesses reported smelling burnt clothing and charred flesh, Kemmler was far from dead, and a second shock was prepared. The second charge was 1,030 volts and applied for about two minutes, whereupon smoke was observed coming from the head of Kemmler, who was clearly deceased. An autopsy showed that the electrode attached to his back had burned through to the spine.

Dr. Southwick applauded Kemmler's execution with the declaration, "We live in a higher civilization from this day on," while American inventor George Westinghouse, an innovator of the use of electricity, remarked, "They would have done better with an axe."
http://www.freewebs.com/disturbedrebels/electric_chair2.jpg


Aug 6, 1862:
Confederate ship blown up by crew


The C.S.S. Arkansas, the most feared Confederate ironclad on the Mississippi River, is blown up by her crew after suffering mechanical problems during a battle with the U.S.S. Essex near Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The Arkansas's career lasted just 23 days. In August 1861, the Confederate Congress appropriated $160,000 to construct two ironclad ships for use on the Mississippi. Similar in style to the more famous C.S.S. Virginia (Merrimack), the ships were both 165 feet long and 35 feet wide, and were constructed in Memphis. Since a labor shortage delayed completion, they were not finished when the Union captured Memphis in May 1862. One ironclad was burned to prevent capture, and the Arkansas was towed south to the Yazoo River.

Lieutenant Isaac Brown, the ship's commander, showed great innovation and determination in completing construction of the craft. A sunken barge loaded with railroad rails was raised so that the rails could be bolted to the hull of the Arkansas, and local planters opened their forges to the builders. On July 12, the work was completed and Brown steered the ship down the Yazoo and into the Mississippi.

The Arkansas came out of the Yazoo with guns blazing. She ran off three Union ships, inflicting heavy damage on two of them, and ran a gauntlet of 16 Union ships, damaging several as she slipped down the river toward Vicksburg, Mississippi. The Union commander, Admiral David Farragut, was furious that a single ship could cause so much damage to his flotilla, so he sent his ships in pursuit of the Confederate menace. At dusk, Farragut marked the position of the Arkansas as it lay anchored at Vicksburg. In the dark, he sent his ships one by one past this position, and each ship fired a volley into the spot where the Arkansas should have been. But Brown had fooled the Yankees by moving his ship after dark.

The Arkansas sparred with two other Union ships on July 22, successfully running off the ships but suffering damage to her engines. The ship was ordered south to Baton Rouge on August 3 to support Confederate operations there, but the Arkansas suffered more engine problems and ran aground. While the crew worked on repairs, the U.S.S. Essex steamed up for a confrontation. The Arkansas set sail, but a propeller shaft broke and left the vessel circling helplessly. She ran aground again, and the crew blew up the ship before the Essex could move in for the kill.

Although the Arkansas was never defeated, unreliable engines doomed the craft to an early death.
http://cavernofcarnage.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/css_arkansas_2.jpg

Duke of Buckingham
08-07-12, 03:23 AM
Aug 7, 1947:
Wood raft makes 4,300-mile voyage


On this day in 1947, Kon-Tiki, a balsa wood raft captained by Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl, completes a 4,300-mile, 101-day journey from Peru to Raroia in the Tuamotu Archipelago, near Tahiti. Heyerdahl wanted to prove his theory that prehistoric South Americans could have colonized the Polynesian islands by drifting on ocean currents.

Heyerdahl and his five-person crew set sail from Callao, Peru, on the 40-square-foot Kon-Tiki on April 28, 1947. The Kon-Tiki, named for a mythical white chieftain, was made of indigenous materials and designed to resemble rafts of early South American Indians. While crossing the Pacific, the sailors encountered storms, sharks and whales, before finally washing ashore at Raroia. Heyerdahl, born in Larvik, Norway, on October 6, 1914, believed that Polynesia's earliest inhabitants had come from South America, a theory that conflicted with popular scholarly opinion that the original settlers arrived from Asia. Even after his successful voyage, anthropologists and historians continued to discredit Heyerdahl's belief. However, his journey captivated the public and he wrote a book about the experience that became an international bestseller and was translated into 65 languages. Heyerdahl also produced a documentary about the trip that won an Academy Award in 1951.

Heyerdahl made his first expedition to Polynesia in 1937. He and his first wife lived primitively on Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas Islands for a year and studied plant and animal life. The experience led him to believe that humans had first come to the islands aboard primitive vessels drifting on ocean currents from the east.

Following the Kon-Tiki expedition, Heyerdahl made archeological trips to such places as the Galapagos Islands, Easter Island and Peru and continued to test his theories about how travel across the seas played a major role in the migration patterns of ancient cultures. In 1970, he sailed across the Atlantic from Morocco to Barbados in a reed boat named Ra II (after Ra, the Egyptian sun god) to prove that Egyptians could have connected with pre-Columbian Americans. In 1977, he sailed the Indian Ocean in a primitive reed ship built in Iraq to learn how prehistoric civilizations in Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley and Egypt might have connected.

While Heyerdahl's work was never embraced by most scholars, he remained a popular public figure and was voted "Norwegian of the Century" in his homeland. He died at age 87 on April 18, 2002, in Italy. The raft from his famous 1947 expedition is housed at the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo, Norway.
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Aug 7, 1782:
Washington creates the Purple Heart


On this day in 1782, in Newburgh, New York, General George Washington, the commander in chief of the Continental Army, creates the "Badge for Military Merit," a decoration consisting of a purple, heart-shaped piece of silk, edged with a narrow binding of silver, with the word Merit stitched across the face in silver. The badge was to be presented to soldiers for "any singularly meritorious action" and permitted its wearer to pass guards and sentinels without challenge. The honoree's name and regiment were also to be inscribed in a "Book of Merit."

Washington's "Purple Heart" was awarded to only three known soldiers during the Revolutionary War: Elijah Churchill, William Brown and Daniel Bissell, Jr. The "Book of Merit" was lost, and the decoration was largely forgotten until 1927, when General Charles P. Summerall, the U.S. Army chief of staff, sent an unsuccessful draft bill to Congress to "revive the Badge of Military Merit." In 1931, Summerall's successor, General Douglas MacArthur, took up the cause, hoping to reinstate the medal in time for the bicentennial of George Washington's birth. On February 22, 1932, Washington's 200th birthday, the U.S. War Department announced the creation of the "Order of the Purple Heart."

In addition to aspects of Washington's original design, the new Purple Heart also displays a bust of Washington and his coat of arms. The Order of the Purple Heart, the oldest American military decoration for military merit, is awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces who have been killed or wounded in action against an enemy. It is also awarded to soldiers who have suffered maltreatment as prisoners of war.
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Aug 7, 1964:
Congress passes Gulf of Tonkin Resolution


The United States Congress overwhelming approves the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving President Lyndon B. Johnson nearly unlimited powers to oppose "communist aggression" in Southeast Asia. The resolution marked the beginning of an expanded military role for the United States in the Cold War battlefields of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

By 1964, America's ally, South Vietnam, was in serious danger of falling to a communist insurgency. The insurgents, aided by communist North Vietnam, controlled large areas of South Vietnam, and no amount of U.S. military aid and training seemed able to save the southern regime. During the presidencies of Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy, hundreds-and then thousands-of U.S. military advisers had been sent to South Vietnam to train that nation's military forces. In addition, hundreds of millions of dollars in military and economic assistance had been given to South Vietnam. The administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson made the decision that only direct U.S. military intervention in the conflict could turn the tide. However, Johnson was campaigning in the presidential election of 1964 as the "responsible" candidate who would not send American troops to fight and die in Asia. In early August, a series of events occurred that allowed Johnson to appear statesmanlike while simultaneously expanding the U.S. role in Vietnam.

On August 2, North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked an American destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin. Johnson responded by sending in another destroyer. On August 4, the two destroyers reported that they were under attack. This time, Johnson authorized retaliatory air attacks against North Vietnam. He also asked Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. This resolution declared, "The United States regards as vital to its national interest and to world peace the maintenance of international peace and security in Southeast Asia." It also gave Johnson the right to "take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression." The House passed the resolution by a unanimous vote; the vote in the Senate was 88 to 2. Johnson's popularity soared in response to his "restrained" handling of the crisis.

The Johnson administration went on to use the resolution as a pretext to begin heavy bombing of North Vietnam in early 1965 and to introduce U.S. combat troops in March 1965. Thus began a nearly eight-year war in which over 58,000 U.S. troops died. In a wider sense, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution can be considered America's Cold War policy toward all of Southeast Asia at the time. The resolution was also another example of the American government's less than candid discussion of "national security" matters during the Cold War. Unspoken during the Congressional debate over the resolution was the fact that the commanders of the U.S. destroyers could not state with absolute accuracy that their ships had actually been attacked on the night of August 4, nor was any mention made of the fact that the U.S. destroyers had been assisting South Vietnamese commandos in their attacks on North Vietnamese military installations. By the late 1960s, the tangle of government deceptions and lies began to unravel as public confidence in both Johnson and the American military effort in Vietnam began to erode.
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Aug 7, 1956:
Mysterious explosions in Colombia


Seven army ammunition trucks explode in Cali, Colombia, killing more than 1,000 people and injuring thousands more on this day in 1956. The cause of the explosions remains a mystery.

The previous day, 20 trucks fully loaded with dynamite departed the Colombian city of Buenaventura. The trucks stopped in Cali and then 13 of the trucks headed toward Bogota, Colombia's capital city. The remaining seven were headed to other destinations and were parked in downtown Cali overnight.

Just after midnight, all seven trucks suddenly exploded in a quick chain reaction. A nearby rail station was demolished, as was an army barracks. Five hundred soldiers in the barracks lost their lives in an instant. A three-block area of the densely populated city was absolutely razed. Virtually every window within several miles shattered. The trucks themselves were obliterated and a large crater was left in the ground. The heavy bronze doors of St. Paul's Cathedral, more than 10 blocks away, were blown right off the church.

The president of Colombia, General Gustavo Pinilla, publicly charged that terrorists were to blame for the disaster, but no evidence was ever found that the explosion was deliberate.
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Aug 7, 2005:
Trapped Russian sub rescued


On this day in 2005, a Russian Priz AS-28 mini-submarine, with seven crew members on board, is rescued from deep in the Pacific Ocean. On August 4, the vessel had been taking part in training exercises in Beryozovaya Bay, off the coast of Russia's far-eastern Kamchatka peninsula, when its propellers became entangled in cables that were part of Russia's coastal monitoring system. Unable to surface, the sub's crew was stranded in the dark, freezing submarine for more than three days.

At 1 p.m. on August 4, the Priz, trapped at 190 meters below the ocean surface, issued a mayday call. The Russian navy soon began to organize a rescue mission, asking for help from the United Kingdom, United States and Japan. In the ensuing days, while the three countries mobilized rescue crews for the trip to eastern Russia, the Russian navy attempted to first lift the sub from the water and later to drag it to shallower water where it could be reached by divers. Both approaches were complicated by the 60-ton anchor attached to the cables that had ensnared the sub. Finally, with fears mounting that the trapped crew's oxygen supply would soon run out, the six-man crew of a British-owned-and-operated Scorpio-45 rescue sub arrived and was able to cut the sub loose. All seven on board, which included six Russian navy seamen and one representative of the company that made the sub, survived the ordeal.

The Priz incident occurred just five years after the Kursk, a Russian nuclear submarine, sank, killing all 118 people on board. In that disaster, the Russian government had delayed asking for outside help for some 30 hours and was widely blamed for the sailors deaths. As the disaster unfolded, Russian President Vladimir Putin stunned the public by failing to address the nation and even refused to cut short his vacation in light of the tragedy.

Although Russians everywhere were relieved and happy that the Priz was successfully rescued, others could not believe that the Russian navy had not acquired its own rescue equipment in the five years since the Kursk tragedy. For many, the Priz incident highlighted the effect of a decade of decay on the once-mighty Russian military.
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Aug 7, 1998:
U.S. embassies in East Africa bombed


At 10:30 a.m. local time, a massive truck bomb explodes outside the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. Minutes later, another truck bomb detonated outside the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam, the capital of neighboring Tanzania. The dual terrorist attacks killed 224 people, including 12 Americans, and wounded more than 4,500. The United States accused Saudi exile Osama bin Laden, a proponent of international terrorism against America, of masterminding the bombings. On August 20, President Bill Clinton ordered cruise missiles launched against bin Laden's terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and against a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, where bin Laden allegedly made or distributed chemical weapons.

Osama bin Laden was born in 1957 into one of Saudi Arabia's wealthiest and most prominent families. His father, an immigrant from South Yemen, had built a small construction business into a multibillion-dollar company. When his father died in 1968, bin Laden inherited an estimated $30 million but for the next decade drifted without focus and lived a jet-setting lifestyle. In 1979, however, everything changed when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Like tens of thousands of other Arabs, bin Laden volunteered to aid Afghanistan in repulsing what he saw as the godless communist invaders of the Muslim country.

For the first few years of the Afghan War, he traveled around Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf raising money for the anti-Soviet Afghan fighters. In 1982, he traveled to the front lines of the war for the first time, where he donated construction equipment for the war effort. Bin Laden directly participated in a handful of battles, but his primary role in the anti-Soviet jihad was as financier. During the war, he made contact with numerous Islamic militants, many of whom who were as anti-Western as they were anti-Soviet.

In 1989, the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan, and bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia. He grew increasingly critical of the ruling Saudi family, especially after hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops were welcomed onto Saudi soil during the Persian Gulf War. Although his passport was taken away, he slipped out of Saudi Arabia in 1991 and settled in the Sudan. From there, he spoke out against the Saudi government and the continuing U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, which he likened to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

After the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, the United States began to suspect that bin Laden was involved in international terrorism against the United States. The military organization he built during the Afghan War--al Qaeda, or "the Base"--was still in existence, and U.S. intelligence believed he was transforming it into an anti-U.S. terrorist network. In 1995, bin Laden called for guerrilla attacks against U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia, and three months later a terrorist attack against a U.S. military installation killed five Americans. Under U.S. and Saudi pressure he was expelled from the Sudan in May 1996. One month later, a truck bomb killed 19 U.S. servicemen in Saudi Arabia. Whether or not bin Laden was involved in planning these attacks has not been established.

With 200 of his followers, bin Laden returned to Afghanistan, which was then falling under the control of the Taliban, a faction of extreme Islamic fundamentalists. Bin Laden provided funding for the Taliban military campaign against the city of Kabul, which fell to the militia in September 1996. Soon after his arrival in Afghanistan, bin Laden issued a fatwah, or religious decree, calling for war on Americans in the Persian Gulf and the overthrow of the Saudi government. In February 1998, he issued another fatwah stating that Muslims should kill Americans, including civilians, anywhere in the world.

On August 7, 1998--the eighth anniversary of the deployment of U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia--two U.S. embassies in East Africa were bombed almost simultaneously. The attack at the Nairobi embassy, which was located in a busy downtown area, caused the greater devastation and loss of life. There, a truck loaded with 2,000 pounds of TNT forced its way to the back entrance of the embassy and was detonated, shattering the embassy, demolishing the nearby Ufundi Coop House, and gutting the 17-story Cooperative Bank. By the time rescue operations came to an end, 213 people were dead, including 12 Americans. Thousands of people were wounded, and hundreds were maimed or blinded. The attack against the U.S. embassy in Dar es Saalam killed 11 and injured 85.

By 1997, American intelligence officers knew that bin Laden operatives were active in East Africa but were unable to break up the terrorist cell before the embassies were attacked. They had even heard of a possible plot to bomb the U.S. embassy in Nairobi but failed to recommend an increase in security before the attack. Meanwhile, Prudence Bushnell, the U.S. ambassador to Kenya, independently asked the State Department to move the Nairobi embassy because of its exposed location, but the request was not granted. Revelations of these pre-bombing security issues provoked much controversy and concern about the United States' vulnerability abroad. Few, however, voiced concern that the proliferation of terrorists eager to kill innocent civilians and themselves in order to strike a blow against the U.S. would soon shatter America's sense of invulnerability at home.

Within days of the August 7 bombings, two bin Laden associates were arrested and charged with the attacks. However, with bin Laden and other key suspects still at large, President Clinton ordered a retaliatory military strike on August 20. In Afghanistan, some 70 American cruise missiles hit three alleged bin Laden training camps. An estimated 24 people were killed, but bin Laden was not present. Thirteen cruise missiles hit a pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan, and the night watchman was killed. The United States later backed away from its contention that the pharmaceutical plant was making or distributing chemical weapons for al Qaeda.

In November 1998, the United States indicted bin Laden and 21 others, charging them with bombing the two U.S. embassies and conspiring to commit other acts of terrorism against Americans abroad. To date, nine of the al Qaeda members named in the indictments have been captured; six are in the United States, and three are in Britain fighting extradition to the United States.

In February 2001, four of the suspects went on trial in New York on 302 criminal counts stemming from the embassy attacks. On May 29, all four were convicted on all counts. Saudi citizen Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-'Owhali and Tanzanian Khalfan Khamis Mohamed admitted to directly taking part in the terrorist attacks but claimed they did not knowingly engage in a conspiracy against the United States. Lebanese-born U.S. citizen Wadih El-Hage and Jordanian Mohammed Saddiq Odeh admitted ties to bin Laden but denied involvement in any terrorist acts. All four were sentenced to life in prison without parole.

On September 11, 2001, the world learned that the U.S. embassy attacks were merely a prelude to a far more devastating strike against the United States. On that day, 19 al Qaeda terrorists deftly exploited weaknesses in U.S. domestic security and hijacked four U.S. airliners that they flew into the World Trade Center towers in New York; the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia; and a rural field in western Pennsylvania. Four thousand people were killed in the almost simultaneous attacks and 10,000 were wounded. On October 7, America struck back with Operation Enduring Freedom, the U.S.-led international effort to oust the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, destroy the al Qaeda network based there, and capture bin Laden dead or alive.
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Duke of Buckingham
08-08-12, 04:37 AM
Aug 8, 1974:
Nixon resigns

In an evening televised address, President Richard M. Nixon announces his intention to become the first president in American history to resign. With impeachment proceedings underway against him for his involvement in the Watergate affair, Nixon was finally bowing to pressure from the public and Congress to leave the White House. "By taking this action," he said in a solemn address from the Oval Office, "I hope that I will have hastened the start of the process of healing which is so desperately needed in America."

Just before noon the next day, Nixon officially ended his term as the 37th president of the United States. Before departing with his family in a helicopter from the White House lawn, he smiled farewell and enigmatically raised his arms in a victory or peace salute. The helicopter door was then closed, and the Nixon family began their journey home to San Clemente, California. Minutes later, Vice President Gerald R. Ford was sworn in as the 38th president of the United States in the East Room of the White House. After taking the oath of office, President Ford spoke to the nation in a television address, declaring, "My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over." He later pardoned Nixon for any crimes he may have committed while in office, explaining that he wanted to end the national divisions created by the Watergate scandal.

On June 17, 1972, five men, including a salaried security coordinator for President Nixon's reelection committee, were arrested for breaking into and illegally wiretapping the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Washington, D.C., Watergate complex. Soon after, two other former White House aides were implicated in the break-in, but the Nixon administration denied any involvement. Later that year, reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward of The Washington Post discovered a higher-echelon conspiracy surrounding the incident, and a political scandal of unprecedented magnitude erupted.

In May 1973, the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, headed by Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina, began televised proceedings on the rapidly escalating Watergate affair. One week later, Harvard law professor Archibald Cox was sworn in as special Watergate prosecutor. During the Senate hearings, former White House legal counsel John Dean testified that the Watergate break-in had been approved by former Attorney General John Mitchell with the knowledge of White House advisers John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman, and that President Nixon had been aware of the cover-up. Meanwhile, Watergate prosecutor Cox and his staff began to uncover widespread evidence of political espionage by the Nixon reelection committee, illegal wiretapping of thousands of citizens by the administration, and contributions to the Republican Party in return for political favors.

In July, the existence of what were to be called the Watergate tapes--official recordings of White House conversations between Nixon and his staff--was revealed during the Senate hearings. Cox subpoenaed these tapes, and after three months of delay President Nixon agreed to send summaries of the recordings. Cox rejected the summaries, and Nixon fired him. His successor as special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, leveled indictments against several high-ranking administration officials, including Mitchell and Dean, who were duly convicted.

Public confidence in the president rapidly waned, and by the end of July 1974 the House Judiciary Committee had adopted three articles of impeachment against President Nixon: obstruction of justice, abuse of presidential powers, and hindrance of the impeachment process. On July 30, under coercion from the Supreme Court, Nixon finally released the Watergate tapes. On August 5, transcripts of the recordings were released, including a segment in which the president was heard instructing Haldeman to order the FBI to halt the Watergate investigation. Three days later, Nixon announced his resignation.
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Aug 8, 1963:
Land Rovers used in famous Great Train Robbery

On this day in 1963, the 15 thieves involved in the Great Train Robbery, one of the most famous heists of all time, escape in an ex-British Army truck and two stolen Land Rover four-wheel drive all-terrain vehicles, making off with some $7 million in stolen loot.

The mastermind of the Great Train Robbery was Bruce Reynolds, a known burglar and armed robber. Inspired by the railroad heists of the Wild West in America, Reynolds and 14 other men wearing ski masks and helmets held up the Royal Mail train heading between Glasgow, Scotland, and London, England. They used a false red signal to get the train to stop, then hit the driver with an iron bar, seriously injuring him, in order to gain control of the train. The thieves loaded 120 mailbags filled with the equivalent of $7 million in used bank notes into their Land Rovers and sped off. The vehicles had been stolen in central London and marked with identical license plates in order to confuse the police.

In their hideout at Leatherslade Farm in Buckinghamshire, England, the robbers divided their loot. Viewed as folk heroes by the public for the audacious scale of their crime and their flight from justice, 12 of the 15 robbers nevertheless were eventually captured. In all, the gang of thieves received a total sentence of some 300 years. One of them, a small-time hood named Ronnie Biggs, escaped from prison after just 15 months and underwent plastic surgery to change his appearance. He fled the country and eluded capture for years, finally giving himself up in 2001 when he returned from Brazil voluntarily to serve the 28 years remaining in his sentence.

The two Land Rovers used in the robbery were discovered at the thieves' hideout; a car enthusiast still owns one of them today. Produced by the British-based Rover Company, the Land Rover made its debut at the Amsterdam Motor Show in 1948. It was modeled after the four-wheel drive American-made Jeeps used by the British War Department during World War II and was made of cheaper, readily available aluminum alloy due to the postwar shortage of steel. By 1960, Land Rover production had reached 500,000 vehicles per year, and the all-terrain vehicle had become popular in all types of climates--desert, jungle and city--around the world. Rover later introduced an upscale version called the Range Rover, which become another bestseller for the company. The German automaker BMW purchased Rover in 1994, but split the brand six years later, selling the Land Rover name to Ford Motor Company. In 2008, Ford sold Land Rover, along with Jaguar, to Tata Motors Ltd., India's top automaker.
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Aug 8, 1945:
Truman signs United Nations Charter

President Harry S. Truman signs the United Nations Charter and the United States becomes the first nation to complete the ratification process and join the new international organization. Although hopes were high at the time that the United Nations would serve as an arbiter of international disputes, the organization also served as the scene for some memorable Cold War clashes.

August 8, 1945, was a busy day in the history of World War II. The United States dropped a second atomic bomb on Japan, devastating the city of Nagasaki. The Soviet Union, following through with an agreement made earlier in the war, declared war on Japan. All observers agreed that the combination of these two actions would bring a speedy end to Japanese resistance. At the same time, in Washington, D.C., President Truman took a step that many Americans hoped would mean continued peace in the post-World War II world. The president signed the United Nations Charter, thus completing American ratification of the document. Secretary of State James F. Byrnes also signed. In so doing, the United States became the first nation to complete the ratification process. The charter would come into full force when China, Russia, Great Britain, France, and a majority of the other nations that had constructed the document also completed ratification.

The signing was accomplished with little pomp and ceremony. Indeed, President Truman did not even use one of the ceremonial pens to sign, instead opting for a cheap 10-cent desk pen. Nonetheless, the event was marked by hope and optimism. Having gone through the horrors of two world wars in three decades, most Americans--and people around the world--were hopeful that the new international organization would serve as a forum for settling international disagreements and a means for maintaining global peace. Over the next decades, the United Nations did serve as the scene for some of the more notable events in the Cold War: the decision by the Security Council to send troops to Korea in 1950; Khrushchev pounding the table with his shoe during a U.N. debate; and continuous and divisive discussion over admission of communist China to membership in the UN. As for its role as a peacekeeping institution, the record of the U.N. was not one of great success during the Cold War. The Soviet veto in the Security Council stymied some efforts, while the U.S. desire to steer an independent course in terms of military involvement after the unpopular Korean War meant less and less recourse to the U.N. to solve world conflicts. In the years since the end of the Cold War, however, the United States and Russia have sometimes cooperated to send United Nations forces on peacekeeping missions, such as the effort in Bosnia.
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Aug 8, 1945:
Soviets declare war on Japan; invade Manchuria

On this day in 1945, the Soviet Union officially declares war on Japan, pouring more than 1 million Soviet soldiers into Japanese-occupied Manchuria, northeastern China, to take on the 700,000-strong Japanese army.

The dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima by the Americans did not have the effect intended: unconditional surrender by Japan. Half of the Japanese inner Cabinet, called the Supreme War Direction Council, refused to surrender unless guarantees about Japan's future were given by the Allies, especially regarding the position of the emperor, Hirohito. The only Japanese civilians who even knew what happened at Hiroshima were either dead or suffering terribly.

Japan had not been too worried about the Soviet Union, so busy with the Germans on the Eastern front. The Japanese army went so far as to believe that they would not have to engage a Soviet attack until spring 1946. But the Soviets surprised them with their invasion of Manchuria, an assault so strong (of the 850 Japanese soldiers engaged at Pingyanchen, 650 were killed or wounded within the first two days of fighting) that Emperor Hirohito began to plead with his War Council to reconsider surrender. The recalcitrant members began to waver.
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Duke of Buckingham
08-09-12, 07:50 AM
Aug 9, 1974:
Unusual succession makes Ford president


In accordance with his statement of resignation the previous evening, Richard M. Nixon officially ends his term as the 37th president of the United States at noon. Before departing with his family in a helicopter from the White House lawn, he smiled farewell and enigmatically raised his arms in a victory or peace salute. The helicopter door was then closed, and the Nixon family began their journey home to San Clemente, California. Richard Nixon was the first U.S. president to resign from office.

Minutes later, Vice President Gerald R. Ford was sworn in as the 38th president of the United States in the East Room of the White House. After taking the oath of office, President Ford spoke to the nation in a television address, declaring, "My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over."

Ford, the first president who came to the office through appointment rather than election, had replaced Spiro Agnew as vice president only eight months before. In a political scandal independent of the Nixon administration's wrongdoings in the Watergate affair, Agnew had been forced to resign in disgrace after he was charged with income tax evasion and political corruption. In September 1974, Ford pardoned Nixon for any crimes he may have committed while in office, explaining that he wanted to end the national divisions created by the Watergate scandal.
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Aug 9, 2000:
Bridgestone/Firestone announces massive tire recall


On August 9, 2000, tire manufacturer Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. announces that it is recalling 6.5 million of its model ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires; the move comes two days after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration linked hundreds of accidents and at least 46 deaths to problems with the tread on the tires.

Founded by the Ohio-born Harvey S. Firestone, Firestone Tire & Rubber Company began manufacturing automobile tires in 1904 and put the first pneumatic (inflatable) tires on Ford Motor Company's iconic Model T in 1908. Firestone's sale of thousands of tires to Ford made it the top tire manufacturer in America, and Harvey Firestone and Henry Ford were close friends as well as business associates. Eight decades later, the company's financial struggles led to its acquisition in 1988 by the Bridgestone Corporation of Japan, the world's largest tire and rubber manufacturer. Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., based in Nashville, Tennessee, is Bridgestone's U.S. subsidiary.

In May 2000, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a letter to both Ford and Firestone requesting information about the high incidence of tire failure on the popular Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle (SUV). Subsequent investigation by Ford revealed that the tread on the 15-inch ATX and ATX II models and Wilderness AT tires tended to peel off, resulting in very high failure rates. When the tires failed, the vehicles would roll over, sometimes killing their occupants. After extensive conversations with the NHTSA and Ford, Bridgestone/Firestone announced the recall of 6.5 million tires that August 9.

The recall began in Southern and Western states, as the problems seemed to be linked to hot weather. (A study published in May 2001 by The St. Petersburg Times found that at least 41 people died in Firestone-related accidents in Florida alone since 1997, more than reported by the NHTSA.) It would then move to other regions and would be complete by the following year. In addition to the recall, Bridgestone/Firestone also faced 50 lawsuits and a federal investigation relating to the problem, as questions lingered about how much both Ford and Bridgestone/Firestone knew about the problems, and for how long, before they acted. Bridgestone/Firestone, along with some observers, believed the problem was not just the tires but the design of the Explorer itself, which made it prone to tipping over. Ford fought back, saying it would replace all Wilderness AT tires at its own expense, including those not covered by the recall (a total of 13 million tires). Firestone responded by severing its relationship with Ford, ending an association that dated back almost 100 years.
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Aug 9, 1985:
Arthur Walker found guilty of spying for Soviet Union


Arthur Walker, a retired U.S. Navy officer, is found guilty of espionage for passing top-secret documents to his brother, who then passed them to Soviet agents. Walker was part of one of the most significant Cold War spy rings in the United States.

The arrest of Arthur Walker on May 29, 1985, came just one day after the arrest of his brother, John, and John's son, Michael. All three were charged with conducting espionage for the Soviet Union. John Walker, also a Navy veteran, was the ringleader, and government officials charged that he had been involved in spying for the Soviets since 1968. He recruited his son, who was serving in the U.S. Navy, a short time later. Arthur Walker was drawn into the scheme in 1980 when, at his brother's suggestion, he took a job with VSE, a Virginia defense contractor. Over the next two years, the government charged, Arthur Walker provided John with a number of highly classified documents dealing with the construction of naval vessels. For his services, Arthur Walker received about $12,000. A nasty divorce between John Walker and his wife eventually brought the spy ring to light when his wife, angry after their separation, went to the FBI to inform on her husband. It was revealed at their trials that the motivation of all the Walker men was the repayment of large debts they had accrued.

Arthur Walker was found guilty of seven counts of espionage on August 9, 1985. He was sentenced to life in prison and fined $250,000. John and Michael Walker later pled guilty to espionage charges, with John receiving two life sentences and Michael receiving 25 years in prison. A fourth conspirator, Jerry Whitworth, a friend of John Walker's, was convicted in 1986 on 12 counts of espionage and sentenced to 365 years in prison. With the arrests and convictions, the U.S. government claimed that it had broken one of the most destructive spy rings in the United States in the history of the Cold War.
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Aug 9, 1936:
Owens wins 4th gold medal


At the 1936 Berlin Olympics, African American track star Jesse Owens wins his fourth gold medal of the Games in the 4x100-meter relay. His relay team set a new world record of 39.8 seconds, which held for 20 years. In their strong showing in track-and-field events at the XIth Olympiad, Jesse Owens and other African American athletes struck a propaganda blow against Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, who planned to use the Berlin Games as a showcase of supposed Aryan superiority.

Born the son of Alabama sharecroppers in 1913, Owens emerged as a major track talent while attending high school in Cleveland, Ohio. Later, at Ohio State University, he demonstrated himself to be one of the greatest athletes in the world. In a single day of competition--May 25, 1935--Owens broke the world records for the 220-yard dash, the 220-yard low hurdles, and the running broad jump, and equaled the world record for the 100-yard dash. The next summer, Owens and 311 other American athletes, including 17 African Americans, traveled to Nazi Germany to represent the United States at the XIth Olympiad.

In 1931, the International Olympic Committee awarded the 1936 Summer Olympics to Berlin. The choice was meant to signal Germany's return to the world community after defeat in World War I. Two years later, however, Adolf Hitler came to power. He transformed the democratic German government into a one-party dictatorship, purged political opponents and suspected dissidents, instituted anti-Semitic policies, and began the remilitarization of Germany.

Hitler initially held the Olympics in low regard because of their internationalism but became an avid supporter after Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels convinced him of their propaganda value. Seen as an opportunity to advance Nazi ideology, Hitler provided extensive funding for the Berlin Games, which promised to be the largest modern Olympics to date. The Nazi government used sport as part of its drive to strengthen the "Aryan race," and "Non-Aryans"--Jewish, part-Jewish, or Gypsy athletes--were systematically excluded from Nazi-sponsored sports facilities and associations.

By 1935, a number of athletic groups in the United States were pushing for a boycott of the Berlin Games, but after a heated debate U.S. participation was narrowly approved in December 1935. A number of prominent Jewish athletes in the United States and other countries decided to independently boycott the Games in protest of Nazi oppression of Jews. Spain also planned an alternate "People's Olympics" to be held in Barcelona in July 1936, but the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War forced its cancellation. In the end, 49 nations sent some 4,000 athletes to the Summer Olympics in Berlin.

Under international pressure, the Nazis agreed to allow one part-Jewish athlete on its Olympic team: fencer Helene Mayer. However, Joseph Goebbels forbid the Nazi-controlled German press from discussing the ethnicity of the blond-haired Mayer.

On August 1, 1936, Adolf Hitler opened the XIth Olympiad. The Olympic ritual of a runner arriving bearing a torch carried by relay from Olympia, Greece, occurred for the first time. The Nazis advertised this ceremony as a symbol of the myth that German civilization was the inheritor of the glorified culture of ancient Greece.

Olympic flags and swastika-bearing Nazi banners hung everywhere in Berlin. To prevent controversy, the anti-Jewish signs hung throughout the city were removed during the Games, and Jewish athletes and visitors from other countries were not subjected to anti-Jewish laws. Gypsies were cleared off the streets and interned in a camp at the edge of Berlin. A festive and hospitable atmosphere pervaded the German capital, and most tourists left the city with positive memories of their stay there.

With 348 athletes, Germany had the largest national team and captured the most medals overall, greatly pleasing Hitler. The Americans, however, dominated the popular track-and-field events. On the first day of competition, Hitler, who had been congratulating German and select other winners, left the stadium shortly after three African Americans swept the high-jump event. Whether Hitler left to avoid shaking hands with non-Aryans is unclear. In the aftermath of the incident, Olympic organizers asked Hitler to either receive all the medal winners or none, and he chose the latter. Contrary to the popular myth, Hitler never directly snubbed Jesse Owens, but he did continue to privately receive German winners throughout the Games.

With his four gold medals, Jesse Owens was the star of the Berlin Olympics. He equaled the world record (10.3 seconds) in the 100-meter race and broke the world records in the 200-meter race (20.7 seconds) and in the broad jump (26 feet 5 3/8 inches). He was enthusiastically applauded by the largely German crowd and developed a friendship with German long jumper and silver medalist Luz Long. However, he and other African American Olympians were demeaned by a Nazi newspaper that wrote of them as the "black auxiliaries" of the American team.

On August 9, Owens won his fourth medal as a member of the mixed-race 4x100-meter relay team. The world-record-breaking triumph was tainted by the revelation that U.S. coaches had benched two American Jewish relay runners the day before the event. Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller were replaced with Owens and African American Ralph Metcalfe, the two best U.S. sprinters. However, both Stoller and Glickman had out-run Foy Draper, a white American who remained on the team, in a practice race. The coaches said Draper was more experienced, but Glickman and others thought that anti-Semitism was involved. Stoller, however, thought favoritism was to blame, as Draper and the fourth runner, Frank Wykoff, had trained under one of the Olympic coaches at the University of Southern California.

Despite the embarrassment of seeing his best Aryan runners bested by African Americans, Adolf Hitler hailed the Berlin Olympics as a great success. He commissioned a German architect to design a colossal, 400,000-seat stadium at Nuremberg that would host Olympics for "all time to come." The outbreak of World War II in 1939 prevented the building of the stadium, and by 1945 Hitler's plans for Nazi world domination had ended in absolute defeat. In the decades of Cold War that followed, the United States and the Soviet Union exploited the propaganda potential of the Olympic Games as freely as the Nazis did at Berlin in 1936.

Although only 23, Jesse Owens retired from amateur competition shortly after the Berlin Olympics in order to capitalize on his fame. This effectively brought his athletic career to an end. He later engaged in boys'-guidance activities, made goodwill visits to Asia for the U.S. Department of State, and served as secretary of the Illinois State Athletic Commission. He died in 1980.
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Duke of Buckingham
08-10-12, 07:35 AM
Aug 10, 1846:
Smithsonian Institution created


After a decade of debate about how best to spend a bequest left to America from an obscure English scientist, President James K. Polk signs the Smithsonian Institution Act into law.

In 1829, James Smithson died in Italy, leaving behind a will with a peculiar footnote. In the event that his only nephew died without any heirs, Smithson decreed that the whole of his estate would go to "the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge." Smithson's curious bequest to a country that he had never visited aroused significant attention on both sides of the Atlantic.

Smithson had been a fellow of the venerable Royal Society of London from the age of 22, publishing numerous scientific papers on mineral composition, geology, and chemistry. In 1802, he overturned popular scientific opinion by proving that zinc carbonates were true carbonate minerals, and one type of zinc carbonate was later named smithsonite in his honor.

Six years after his death, his nephew, Henry James Hungerford, indeed died without children, and on July 1, 1836, the U.S. Congress authorized acceptance of Smithson's gift. President Andrew Jackson sent diplomat Richard Rush to England to negotiate for transfer of the funds, and two years later Rush set sail for home with 11 boxes containing a total of 104,960 gold sovereigns, 8 shillings, and 7 pence, as well as Smithson's mineral collection, library, scientific notes, and personal effects. After the gold was melted down, it amounted to a fortune worth well over $500,000. After considering a series of recommendations, including the creation of a national university, a public library, or an astronomical observatory, Congress agreed that the bequest would support the creation of a museum, a library, and a program of research, publication, and collection in the sciences, arts, and history. On August 10, 1846, the act establishing the Smithsonian Institution was signed into law by President James K. Polk.

Today, the Smithsonian is composed of 19 museums and galleries including the recently announced National Museum of African American History and Culture, nine research facilities throughout the United States and the world, and the national zoo. Besides the original Smithsonian Institution Building, popularly known as the "Castle," visitors to Washington, D.C., tour the National Museum of Natural History, which houses the natural science collections, the National Zoological Park, and the National Portrait Gallery. The National Museum of American History houses the original Star-Spangled Banner and other artifacts of U.S. history. The National Air and Space Museum has the distinction of being the most visited museum in the world, exhibiting such marvels of aviation and space history as the Wright brothers' plane and Freedom 7, the space capsule that took the first American into space. John Smithson, the Smithsonian Institution's great benefactor, is interred in a tomb in the Smithsonian Building.
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Aug 10, 1978:
Fatal Ford Pinto crash in Indiana


On this day in 1978, three teenage girls die after their 1973 Ford Pinto is rammed from behind by a van and bursts into flames on an Indiana highway. The fatal crash was one of a series of Pinto accidents that caused a national scandal during the 1970s.

The small and economical Pinto, which debuted in 1970, was Ford's first subcompact car produced domestically, and its answer to popular imports like the Volkswagen Beetle and the Toyota Corolla. Lee Iacocca, then an executive vice president at Ford and later to earn fame as head of Chrysler, spearheaded the Pinto's development. Initial reviews of the Pinto's handling and performance were largely positive, and sales remained strong, with Ford introducing new Pinto models such as the Runabout and the Sprint over the course of the early 1970s.

By 1974, however, rumors began to surface in- and outside the company about the Pinto's tendency to catch fire in rear-end collisions. In May 1972, a California woman was killed when her Pinto caught fire after being rear-ended on a highway. Her passenger, Richard Grimshaw, was burned over 90 percent of his body but survived; he sued Ford for damages. Grimshaw's lawyer found that the Pinto's gas tank sat behind the rear axle, where it was particularly vulnerable to damage by rear-end collisions. He also uncovered evidence that Ford had known about this weakness ever since the Pinto first went on sale, and had done nothing about it, mostly because changing the design would have been too costly. An article in Mother Jones magazine in the fall of 1977 exposed the Pinto safety concerns to a national audience, and a California jury's award of $128 million to Grimshaw in February 1978 spread the news still further. That June, Ford voluntarily recalled all 1.9 million 1971-1976 Pintos and 1975-1976 Mercury Bobcats (which had the same fuel-tank design).

As Douglas Brinkley wrote in "Wheels for the World," his history of Ford, the Ehrlich girls, who died in the rear-end collision in Indiana on August 8, 1978, were apparently unaware of the Pinto-related dangers; their family would not receive a recall notice until early 1979. A grand jury later returned indictments against Ford on three counts of reckless homicide in the Ehrlich case, marking the first time in history that a corporation had been charged with murder. Ford claimed that the Pinto's fuel-tank design was the same as other subcompacts, and that the company had done everything possible to comply with the recall once it had been enacted. Due to a lack of evidence, the jury found Ford not guilty in that case. A California appeals court upheld the Grimshaw victory, however, ordering Ford to pay $6.6 million and stating that the company's "institutional mentality was shown to be one of callous indifference to public safety."
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Aug 10, 1981:
Child found decapitated


The severed head of six-year-old Adam Walsh, who disappeared from a shopping mall two weeks earlier, is found in a canal in Vera Beach, Florida. Two years later, career criminal Ottis Ellwood Toole, then an inmate at a Raiford, Florida, prison, confessed to Adam’s abduction and murder. However, investigators were unable to locate Adam’s body where Toole claimed to have buried it and without any physical evidence the Florida state attorney couldn’t prosecute the case. Toole died of cirrhosis of the liver and AIDS in 1996 in a Florida prison, where he was on Death Row for another murder. On December 16, 2008, the police department in Hollywood, Florida, announced that the case against Toole was strong enough to close the investigation into Adam's death.

In the wake of Adam Walsh's kidnapping and murder, Congress passed the Missing Children's Act, giving the FBI greater authority to track the disappearance of children. A television movie about the case, Adam, aired a week before Toole confessed to the crime. John Walsh, Adam's father, became a national spokesman against crime. He went on to host America's Most Wanted, a television show that profiles fugitives whose capture is sought by the FBI. Since it debuted in 1988, nearly 1,000 criminals have been caught as a result of viewer tips.
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Aug 10, 1993:
Three-ship collision causes oil spill


A rare collision of three ships in Tampa Bay, Florida, results in a spill of 336,000 gallons of fuel oil on this day in 1993. Fortunately, a combination of favorable weather conditions and preparedness kept the damage to a minimum.

It was about 6 a.m. when two fuel barges heading into Tampa Bay's harbor and one phosphate freighter heading out collided. The collision caused a fire on the Maritrans barge Ocean 255, crippling the ship, which was carrying 8 million gallons of gas and diesel fuel. Although it took nearly 16 hours to put out, no one onboard was killed. However, more than 300,000 gallons of oil were dumped into Tampa Bay.

This incident marked the first use of a computerized trajectory model to track an oil spill. Using data on wind, weather and the movement of tides, the extent of a spill could be predicted for the first time. Despite the limits of the data, the trajectory model proved to be accurate over a six-hour time period. On this day, the model showed that the tides and wind were pushing the massive spill away from the shore.

While the oil remained at sea, response teams prepared for the inevitable time when the spill would reach the coast. Crews with loaders and shovels were present to pick up the black oil as it hit the Pinellas County beaches. Luckily, the oil mostly missed the thick mangrove forests on the coast--these would have been far more difficult to clean. Additionally, local residents had just completed training by the Pinellas Seabird Rehabilitation Center (PSRC) that prepared them for oil spills. Three thousand volunteers working for the PSRC saved virtually all of the native wildlife that was affected by the disaster.

This oil spill was the first major one following the 1989 Exxon Valdez accident in Alaska. New federal legislation that had been passed in the aftermath of the Valdez disaster assisted in the effort to recover millions of dollars from the ship owners to pay for the cleanup efforts.
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Aug 10, 1955:
Diem refuses to negotiate with Communists


Declaring that South Vietnam is "the only legal state," Ngo Dinh Diem, Premier of the State of Vietnam, announces that he will not enter into negotiations with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) on elections as long as the Communist government remains in power in Hanoi.

The elections had been scheduled for 1956 under the provisions of the Geneva Peace Accords of 1954 that brought an end to the First Indochina War. Diem reaffirmed the position laid down in his broadcast of July 6 in which he stated that South Vietnam was not bound by the Geneva Accords.
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Duke of Buckingham
08-11-12, 07:22 AM
Aug 11, 1934:
Federal prisoners land on Alcatraz


A group of federal prisoners classified as "most dangerous" arrives at Alcatraz Island, a 22-acre rocky outcrop situated 1.5 miles offshore in San Francisco Bay. The convicts--the first civilian prisoners to be housed in the new high-security penitentiary--joined a few dozen military prisoners left over from the island's days as a U.S. military prison.

Alcatraz was an uninhabited seabird haven when it was explored by Spanish Lieutenant Juan Manuel de Ayala in 1775. He named it Isla de los Alcatraces, or "Island of the Pelicans." Fortified by the Spanish, Alcatraz was sold to the United States in 1849. In 1854, it had the distinction of housing the first lighthouse on the coast of California. Beginning in 1859, a U.S. Army detachment was garrisoned there, and from 1868 Alcatraz was used to house military criminals. In addition to recalcitrant U.S. soldiers, prisoners included rebellious Indian scouts, American soldiers fighting in the Philippines who had deserted to the Filipino cause, and Chinese civilians who resisted the U.S. Army during the Boxer Rebellion. In 1907, Alcatraz was designated the Pacific Branch of the United States Military Prison.

In 1934, Alcatraz was fortified into a high-security federal penitentiary designed to hold the most dangerous prisoners in the U.S. penal system, especially those with a penchant for escape attempts. The first shipment of civilian prisoners arrived on August 11, 1934. Later that month, more shiploads arrived, featuring, among other convicts, infamous mobster Al Capone. In September, George "Machine Gun" Kelly, another luminary of organized crime, landed on Alcatraz.

In the 1940s, a famous Alcatraz prisoner was Richard Stroud, the "Birdman of Alcatraz." A convicted murderer, Stroud wrote an important study on birds while being held in solitary confinement in Leavenworth Prison in Kansas. Regarded as extremely dangerous because of his 1916 murder of a guard at Leavenworth, he was transferred to Alcatraz in 1942. Stroud was not allowed to continue his avian research at Alcatraz.

Although some three dozen attempted, no prisoner was known to have successfully escaped "The Rock." However, the bodies of several escapees believed drowned in the treacherous waters of San Francisco Bay were never found. The story of the 1962 escape of three of these men, Frank Morris and brothers John and Clarence Anglin, inspired the 1979 film Escape from Alcatraz. Another prisoner, John Giles, caught a boat ride to the shore in 1945 dressed in an army uniform he had stolen piece by piece, but he was questioned by a suspicious officer after disembarking and sent back to Alcatraz. Only one man, John Paul Scott, was recorded to have reached the mainland by swimming, but he came ashore exhausted and hypothermic at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge. Police found him lying unconscious and in a state of shock.

In 1963, U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy ordered Alcatraz closed, citing the high expense of its maintenance. In its 29-year run, Alcatraz housed more than 1,500 convicts. In March 1964 a group of Sioux Indians briefly occupied the island, citing an 1868 treaty with the Sioux allowing Indians to claim any "unoccupied government land." In November 1969, a group of nearly 100 Indian students and activists began a more prolonged occupation of the island, remaining there until they were forced off by federal marshals in June 1971.

In 1972, Alcatraz was opened to the public as part of the newly created Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which is maintained by the National Park Service. More than one million tourists visit Alcatraz Island and the former prison annually.
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Aug 11, 1984:
Reagan jokes about "outlawing" the Soviet Union


A joke about "outlawing" the Soviet Union by President Ronald Reagan turns into an international embarrassment. The president's flippant remarks caused consternation among America's allies and provided grist for the Soviet propaganda mill.

As he prepared for his weekly radio address on August 11, 1984, President Reagan was asked to make a voice check. Reagan obliged, declaring, "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes." Since the voice check was not actually broadcast, it was not until after he delivered his radio address that news of his "joke" began to leak out. In Paris, a leading newspaper expressed its dismay, and stated that only trained psychologists could know whether Reagan's remarks were "a statement of repressed desire or the exorcism of a dreaded phantom." A Dutch news service remarked, "Hopefully, the man tests his missiles more carefully." Other foreign newspapers and news services called Reagan "an irresponsible old man," and declared that his comments were "totally unbecoming" for a man in his position. In the Soviet Union, commentators had a field day with Reagan's joke. One stated, "It is said that a person's level of humor reflects the level of his thinking. If so, aren't one and the other too low for the president of a great country?" Another said, "We would not be wasting time on this unfortunate joke if it did not reflect once again the fixed idea that haunts the master of the White House."

Reagan's tasteless joke provided additional ammunition for commentators at home and abroad who believed that the anticommunist crusader was a reckless "cowboy" intent on provoking a conflict with the Soviet Union. Ironically, the man who also referred to Russia as an "evil empire" went on to establish a close personal relationship with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev after the latter came to power in 1985. The two men later signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987, which eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons.
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Aug 11, 1980:
Carol Bundy confesses her connection to the "Sunset Slayer"


Nurse Carol Bundy confesses her connection to the "Sunset Slayer," the killer who had been murdering and mutilating young women in Hollywood, California, all summer, to co-workers. "I can't take it anymore. I'm supposed to save lives, not take them," she reportedly said. Her confession was relayed to police, who immediately arrested Douglas Clark, Bundy's live-in lover.

Bundy and Clark met in a North Hollywood bar in January. Clark was a self-described "king of the one-night stands." But when he met Bundy, he soon discovered that she was willing to assist and indulge in his sick fantasies. Bundy began taking pictures of Clark having sex with children and listening to his desire to kill.

In June, Clark abducted two teenagers, sexually assaulted them, and then shot them in the head. He dumped their bodies off the freeway and then went home to brag about it to Bundy. Days later, Clark called a friend of his victims' and told her details about the awful murders while masturbating. Two weeks later, Clark struck again, killing two young women in separate incidents. In the second attack, Clark cut the head off the woman and took it home, insisting that Bundy apply cosmetics to it. Because most of his victims had been abducted from the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, the press had taken to calling the serial killer the "Sunset Slayer."

Clark proved to be more of an influence than Bundy expected. When she blabbed about Clark's activities to a former boyfriend, she felt compelled to kill the man to make sure that she wasn't implicated. On August 5, Bundy stabbed John Murray to death and then cut off his head. Within a week, she was tearfully confessing to her fellow nurses. During the trial in 1981, Clark tried to pin all of the murders on Bundy, but the jurors found his story hard to believe and sentenced him to die. Bundy attempted an insanity defense, but she eventually pleaded guilty and received a sentence of 52 years-to-life.
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Aug 11, 1952:
Hussein succeeds to Jordanian throne


Prince Hussein is proclaimed the king of Jordan after his father, King Talal, is declared unfit to rule by the Jordanian Parliament on grounds of mental illness. Hussein was formally crowned on November 14, 1953, his 18th birthday. Hussein was the third constitutional king of Jordan and a member of the Hashemite dynasty, said to be in direct line of descent from the Prophet Muhammad.

During his nearly five decades of rule, he maintained good relations with the West and steadily developed Jordan's economy. He fought against Israel in 1967's Six-Day War and later against Palestinian guerrillas who tried to seize control of the Jordanian state. He opposed the Persian Gulf War of 1991 but supported the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. He died in 1999 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Prince Abdallah. He was the 20th century's longest-serving executive head of state.
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Aug 11, 1998:
Jonesboro schoolyard shooters guilty


In Jonesboro, Arkansas, Mitchell Johnson pleads guilty to the Jonesboro schoolyard massacre on his 14th birthday, and Andrew Golden, age 12, is convicted. Both boys had been charged with five counts of murder and 10 counts of battery for the March 24 shooting that left four schoolmates and a teacher dead and 10 others wounded. Juvenile Court Judge Ralph Wilson Jr. sentenced them to the maximum penalty allowed by law--confinement to a juvenile center, perhaps until they turned 21. The judge, who declared during sentencing that "here the punishment will not fit the crime," had rejected a plea of temporary insanity made by Golden.

During the trial, prosecutors had recounted step-by-step how, on March 24, the boys took a van from Mitchell's home, guns from Andrew's grandfather's house, and then went to the Westside Middle School dressed in camouflage. Andrew pulled a fire alarm in the school to flush classmates and teachers outside and then ran to a patch of woods 75 yards away, where he met Mitchell. As the students and teachers filed out, the boys opened fire. After the massacre, they fled into the woods toward their van but were captured by police before they could escape.

By Arkansas law at the time, juvenile offenders could not be held in adult prisons and thus were traditionally released on their 18th birthday. In addition, unlike convicted adults, juvenile offenders were also allowed to own guns after being paroled. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Arkansas changed its laws so that child murderers can be imprisoned after the age of 21. In 1999, Arkansas bought a facility that enabled the state to keep Johnson and Golden in jail until their 21st birthdays. Johnson was freed in 2005; Golden was released in 2007. Neither has any criminal record. The Jonesboro massacre was the worst in a series of deadly school shootings that occurred between October 1997 and 1998. However, just over a year later, on April 20, 1999, a murderous rampage by two students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, left 13 dead and 23 injured.
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Duke of Buckingham
08-12-12, 03:38 PM
Aug 12, 1990:
Skeleton of Tyrannosaurus rex discovered

On this day in 1990, fossil hunter Susan Hendrickson discovers three huge bones jutting out of a cliff near Faith, South Dakota. They turn out to be part of the largest-ever Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever discovered, a 65 million-year-old specimen dubbed Sue, after its discoverer.

Amazingly, Sue's skeleton was over 90 percent complete, and the bones were extremely well-preserved. Hendrickson's employer, the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, paid $5,000 to the land owner, Maurice Williams, for the right to excavate the dinosaur skeleton, which was cleaned and transported to the company headquarters in Hill City. The institute's president, Peter Larson, announced plans to build a non-profit museum to display Sue along with other fossils of the Cretaceous period.

In 1992, a long legal battle began over Sue. The U.S. Attorney's Office claimed Sue's bones had been seized from federal land and were therefore government property. It was eventually found that Williams, a part-Native American and member of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, had traded his land to the tribe two decades earlier to avoid paying property taxes, and thus his sale of excavation rights to Black Hills had been invalid. In October 1997, Chicago's Field Museum purchased Sue at public auction at Sotheby's in New York City for $8.36 million, financed in part by the McDonald's and Disney corporations.

Sue's skeleton went on display at the Field Museum in May 2000. The tremendous T.rex skeleton--13 feet high at the hips and 42 feet long from head to toe--is displayed in one of the museum's main halls. Another exhibit gives viewers a close-up view of Sue's five foot-long, 2,000-pound skull with its 58 teeth, some as long as a human forearm.

Sue's extraordinarily well-preserved bones have allowed scientists to determine many things about the life of T.rex. They have determined that the carnivorous dinosaur had an incredible sense of smell, as the olfactory bulbs were each bigger than the cerebrum, the thinking part of the brain. In addition, Sue was the first T.rex skeleton to be discovered with a wishbone, a crucial discovery that provided support for scientists’ theory that birds are a type of living dinosaur. One thing that remains unknown is Sue's actual gender; to determine this, scientists would have to compare many more T.rex skeletons than the 22 that have been found so far.
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Aug 12, 1988:
"Tucker: The Man & His Dream" debuts

On this day in 1988, director Francis Ford Coppola's critically acclaimed biopic "Tucker: The Man & His Dream" premieres in U.S. theaters, starring Jeff Bridges as the brash Chicago businessman-turned-car-designer Preston Tucker who shook up 1940s-era Detroit with his streamlined, affordable "Car of Tomorrow."

Remembered by some as a visionary and others as a flamboyant but failed opportunist, Preston Tucker (born in 1903) was inspired to build cars by his friendship and pre-World War II business partnership with the race car driver and auto designer Harry Miller. In the renewed prosperity following the war, Tucker believed that Americans were ready to take a chance on a new kind of car, and that he, as an independent entrepreneur, was in the position to take risks that the big, established car companies were unwilling to take. He hired a skilled team including designer Alexander S. Tremulis and chief mechanic John Eddie Offuttas and leased an old Dodge aircraft engine plant in Chicago with plans to design and produce his dream cars.

Based on clay mock-ups built to scale, the Tucker team produced a metal prototype, dubbed the "Tin Goose," in June 1947. The following spring, the teardrop-shaped, 150-horsepower rear-engined Tucker "Torpedo" began rolling off the line, accompanied by the memorable advertising slogan "Don't Let a Tucker Pass You By." Among the Torpedo's innovations were a padded dashboard, a pop-out windshield and an innovative center-mounted headlight.

Despite rave reviews in the automotive press, Tucker's company fell under harsh scrutiny from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), who investigated the automaker for mail fraud and other charges. The investigation caused a flood of negative publicity for the company, while Tucker struggled to keep producing cars with a fraction of his staff. His efforts were in vain; in March 1949 the company fell into receivership and its assets were seized.

Tucker was ultimately acquitted of all charges, but his dream car would never rise again; only 51 were produced after that initial prototype. Forty-seven of those still exist, and a number of them were used in the making of Coppola's movie, which revived interest in the Tucker '48 and the story of the man behind it. At the time of his death in 1956, Preston Tucker was working on plans for a sports car, the Carioca, to be produced in Brazil.
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Aug 12, 1961:
East Germany begins construction of the Berlin Wall

In an effort to stem the tide of refugees attempting to leave East Berlin, the communist government of East Germany begins building the Berlin Wall to divide East and West Berlin. Construction of the wall caused a short-term crisis in U.S.-Soviet bloc relations, and the wall itself came to symbolize the Cold War.

Throughout the 1950s and into the early 1960s, thousands of people from East Berlin crossed over into West Berlin to reunite with families and escape communist repression. In an effort to stop that outflow, the government of East Germany, on the night of August 12, 1961, began to seal off all points of entrance into West Berlin from East Berlin by stringing barbed wire and posting sentries. In the days and weeks to come, construction of a concrete block wall began, complete with sentry towers and minefields around it. The Berlin Wall succeeded in completely sealing off the two sections of Berlin. The U.S. government responded angrily. Commanders of U.S. troops in West Berlin even began to make plans to bulldoze the wall, but gave up on the idea when the Soviets moved armored units into position to protect it. The West German government was furious with America's lack of action, but President John F. Kennedy believed that "A wall is a hell of a lot better than a war." In an attempt to reassure the West Germans that the United States was not abandoning them, Kennedy traveled to the Berlin Wall in June 1963, and famously declared, "Ich bin ein Berliner!" ("I am a Berliner!"). Since the word "Berliner" was commonly referred to as a jelly doughnut throughout most of Germany, Kennedy's improper use of German grammar was also translated as "I am a jelly doughnut." However, due to the context of his speech, Kennedy's intended meaning that he stood together with West Berlin in its rivalry with communist East Berlin and the German Democratic Republic was understood by the German people.

In the years to come, the Berlin Wall became a physical symbol of the Cold War. The stark division between communist East Berlin and democratic West Berlin served as the subject for numerous editorials and speeches in the United States, while the Soviet bloc characterized the wall as a necessary protection against the degrading and immoral influences of decadent Western culture and capitalism. During the lifetime of the wall, nearly 80 people were killed trying to escape from East to West Berlin. In late 1989, with communist governments falling throughout Eastern Europe, the Berlin Wall was finally opened and then demolished. For many observers, this action was the signal that the Cold War was finally coming to an end.
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Aug 12, 2000:
Russian sub sinks with 118 onboard

A Russian nuclear submarine sinks to the bottom of the Barents Sea on this day in 2000; all 118 crew members are later found dead. The exact cause of the disaster remains unknown.

The Kursk left port on August 10 to take part in war games with the Russian military. Russian ships, planes and submarines met up in the Barents Sea, which is above the Arctic Circle, to practice military maneuvers. On August 12, the Kursk was scheduled to fire a practice torpedo; at 11:29 a.m., before doing so, two explosions spaced shortly apart occurred in the front hull of the submarine and it plunged toward the bottom of the sea.

The Kursk was 500 feet long and weighed 24,000 tons. It had two nuclear reactors and could reach speeds of 28 knots. It was the largest attack submarine in the world, approximately three times the size of the largest subs in the United States Navy.

With the fate of the 118 Russian soldiers onboard the Kursk unknown, several nations offered to contribute to the rescue effort, but the Russian government refused any assistance. When divers finally reached the Kursk a week later, they found no signs of life. Under a great deal of pressure, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to raise the submarine from the sea bottom for an investigation, although no ship or object that size had ever before been recovered from the ocean floor. Furthermore, given that the Barents Sea is frozen for most of the year, the operation had only a small window in which to work.

Using $100 million, the best available technology and an international team of experts, the Kursk was raised on September 26, 2001, about a year after the accident. Unfortunately, however, the team was forced to cut off the front hull from the rest of the sub in order to bring it to the surface, leaving the best evidence of what caused the explosions at the bottom of the sea.
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Aug 12, 1953:
Soviets test "Layer-Cake" bomb

Less than one year after the United States tested its first hydrogen bomb, the Soviets detonate a 400-kiloton device in Kazakhstan. The explosive power was 30 times that of the U.S. atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, and the mushroom cloud produced by it stretched five miles into the sky. Known as the "Layer Cake," the bomb was fueled by layers of uranium and lithium deuteride, a hydrogen isotope. The Soviet bomb was smaller and more portable than the American hydrogen bomb, so its development once again upped the ante in the dangerous nuclear arms race between the Cold War superpowers.
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Aug 12, 1898:
Armistice ends the Spanish-American War

The brief and one-sided Spanish-American War comes to an end when Spain formally agrees to a peace protocol on U.S. terms: the cession of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Manila in the Philippines to the United States pending a final peace treaty.

The Spanish-American War had its origins in the rebellion against Spanish rule that began in Cuba in 1895. The repressive measures that Spain took to suppress the guerrilla war, such as herding Cuba's rural population into disease-ridden garrison towns, were graphically portrayed in U.S. newspapers and enflamed public opinion. In January 1898, violence in Havana led U.S. authorities to order the battleship USS Maine to the city's port to protect American citizens. On February 15, a massive explosion of unknown origin sank the Maine in the Havana harbor, killing 260 of the 400 American crewmembers aboard. An official U.S. Naval Court of Inquiry ruled in March, without much evidence, that the ship was blown up by a mine but did not directly place the blame on Spain. Much of Congress and a majority of the American public expressed little doubt that Spain was responsible, and called for a declaration of war.

In April, the U.S. Congress prepared for war, adopting joint congressional resolutions demanding a Spanish withdrawal from Cuba and authorizing President William McKinley to use force. On April 23, President McKinley asked for 125,000 volunteers to fight against Spain. The next day, Spain issued a declaration of war. The United States declared war on April 25. On May 1, the U.S. Asiatic Squadron under Commodore George Dewey destroyed the Spanish Pacific fleet at Manila Bay in the first battle of the Spanish-American War. Dewey's decisive victory cleared the way for the U.S. occupation of Manila in August and the eventual transfer of the Philippines from Spanish to American control.

On the other side of the world, a Spanish fleet docked in Cuba's Santiago harbor in May after racing across the Atlantic from Spain. A superior U.S. naval force arrived soon after and blockaded the harbor entrance. In June, the U.S. Army Fifth Corps landed in Cuba with the aim of marching to Santiago and launching a coordinated land and sea assault on the Spanish stronghold. Included among the U.S. ground troops were the Theodore Roosevelt-led "Rough Riders," a collection of Western cowboys and Eastern blue bloods officially known as the First U.S. Voluntary Cavalry. On July 1, the Americans won the Battle of San Juan Hill, and the next day they began a siege of Santiago. On July 3, the Spanish fleet was destroyed off Santiago by U.S. warships under Admiral William Sampson, and on July 17 the Spanish surrendered the city--and thus Cuba--to the Americans.

In Puerto Rico, Spanish forces likewise crumbled in the face of superior U.S. forces, and on August 12 an armistice was signed between Spain and the United States. On December 10, the Treaty of Paris officially ended the Spanish-American War. The once-proud Spanish empire was virtually dissolved, and the United States gained its first overseas empire. Puerto Rico and Guam were ceded to the United States, the Philippines were bought for $20 million, and Cuba became a U.S. protectorate. Philippine insurgents who fought against Spanish rule during the war immediately turned their guns against the new occupiers, and 10 times more U.S. troops died suppressing the Philippines than in defeating Spain.
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Duke of Buckingham
08-13-12, 07:06 AM
Aug 13, 1948:
Record day for the Berlin Airlift

Responding to increasing Soviet pressure on western Berlin, U.S. and British planes airlift a record amount of supplies into sections of the city under American and British control. The massive resupply effort, carried out in weather so bad that some pilots referred to it as "Black Friday," signaled that the British and Americans would not give in to the Soviet blockade of western Berlin.

Berlin, like all of Germany, was divided into zones of occupation following World War II. The Russians, Americans, and British all received a zone, with the thought being that the occupation would be only temporary and that Germany would eventually be reunited. By 1948, however, Cold War animosities between the Soviets and the Americans and British had increased to such a degree that it became obvious that German reunification was unlikely. In an effort to push the British and Americans out of their zones of occupation in western Berlin, the Soviets began to interfere with road and rail traffic into those parts of the city in April 1948. (Though divided into zones of occupation, the city of Berlin was geographically located entirely within the Russian occupation area in Germany.) In June 1948, the Russians halted all ground and water travel into western Berlin. The Americans and British responded with a massive airlift to supply the people in their Berlin zones of occupation with food, medicine, and other necessities. It was a daunting logistical effort, and meant nearly round-the-clock flights in and out of western Berlin. August 13, 1948, was a particularly nasty day, with terrible weather compounding the crowded airspace and exhaustion of the pilots and crews. Nevertheless, over 700 British and American planes landed in western Berlin, bringing in nearly 5,000 tons of supplies.

The joint British-American effort on what came to known as "Black Friday" was an important victory for two reasons. First and foremost, it reassured the people of western Berlin that the two nations were not backing down from their promise to defend the city from the Soviets. Second, it was another signal that the Soviet blockade was not only unsuccessful but was also backfiring into a propaganda nightmare. While the Soviets looked like bullies and heartless despots for their efforts to starve western Berlin into submission, the British and Americans--flaunting their technological superiority--were portrayed as heroes by the worldwide audience.
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Aug 13, 1878:
First victim of Memphis yellow-fever epidemic dies

On this day in 1878, Kate Bionda, a restaurant owner, dies of yellow fever in Memphis, Tennessee, after a man who had escaped a quarantined steamboat visited her restaurant. The disease spread rapidly and the resulting epidemic emptied the city.

Yellow fever, which is carried by mosquitoes, originally came from West Africa and was brought to the United States on slave ships. The disease requires warm weather to survive and thrives in wet and hot summers when mosquitoes can breed prodigiously. After a three-to-six-day incubation period, an afflicted person feels flu-like symptoms such as fever and aches. After a very short remission, a more intense stage often follows, during which the victim vomits blood and suffers liver and renal failure. Jaundice is also a typical symptom, which is how yellow fever got its name. If a victim dies, it usually happens within two weeks. Survivors can feel the effects for months.

In the 19th century, it was not known that mosquitoes carried yellow fever. New York City, Philadelphia and New Orleans all experienced serious epidemics that spread rapidly and killed thousands. Memphis, a city of 50,000, had outbreaks in 1855, 1867 and 1873, with each outbreak getting progressively worse. Those who came down with yellow fever were quarantined in an effort to prevent the disease from spreading. Often, they were made to wear yellow jackets as a means of identification.

In July 1878, an outbreak of yellow fever was reported in Vicksburg, just south of Memphis. Memphis officials reacted by stopping travel to the city from the south. However, William Warren, a steamboat worker, somehow slipped away and into Kate Bionda's restaurant on the shore of the Mississippi on August 1. The next day he needed hospitalization and was sent to President's Island for quarantine, where he died. Kate Bionda, the first Memphis resident to get yellow fever, died on August 13. After that, yellow-fever infections spread quickly throughout Memphis.

Most of the residents who were able to fled the city. Twenty-five thousand people picked up and left within a week. For the most part, it was the African-American residents who remained in town, although they died at a much lower rate than the white residents who contracted the disease. An average of 200 people died every day through September. There were corpses everywhere and near continual ringing of funeral bells. Half of the city's doctors died.

The epidemic ended with the first frost in October, but by that time, 20,000 people in the Southeast had died and another 80,000 had survived infection. In the aftermath, open sewers and privies were cleaned up, destroying the breeding grounds for mosquitoes and preventing further epidemics.

Today, yellow-fever outbreaks still occur in Africa and South America.
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Aug 13, 1521:
Aztec capital falls to Cortés

After a three-month siege, Spanish forces under Hernán Cortés capture Tenochtitlán, the capital of the Aztec empire. Cortés' men leveled the city and captured Cuauhtemoc, the Aztec emperor.

Tenochtitlán was founded in 1325 A.D. by a wandering tribe of hunters and gatherers on islands in Lake Texcoco, near the present site of Mexico City. In only one century, this civilization grew into the Aztec empire, largely because of its advanced system of agriculture. The empire came to dominate central Mexico and by the ascendance of Montezuma II in 1502 had reached its greatest extent, extending as far south as perhaps modern-day Nicaragua. At the time, the empire was held together primarily by Aztec military strength, and Montezuma II set about establishing a bureaucracy, creating provinces that would pay tribute to the imperial capital of Tenochtitlán. The conquered peoples resented the Aztec demands for tribute and victims for the religious sacrifices, but the Aztec military kept rebellion at bay.

Meanwhile, Hernán Cortés, a young Spanish-born noble, came to Hispaniola in the West Indies in 1504. In 1511, he sailed with Diego Velázquez to conquer Cuba and twice was elected mayor of Santiago, the capital of Hispaniola. In 1518, he was appointed captain general of a new Spanish expedition to the American mainland. Velázquez, the governor of Cuba, later rescinded the order, and Cortés sailed without permission. He visited the coast of Yucatán and in March 1519 landed at Tabasco in Mexico's Bay of Campeche with 500 soldiers, 100 sailors, and 16 horses. There, he won over the local Indians and was given a female slave, Malinche–baptized Marina–who became his mistress and later bore him a son. She knew both Maya and Aztec and served as an interpreter. The expedition then proceeded up the Mexican coast, where Cortés founded Veracruz, mainly for the purpose of having himself elected captain general by the colony, thus shaking off the authority of Velázquez and making him responsible only to King Charles V of Spain.

At Veracruz, Cortés trained his army and then burned his ships to ensure loyalty to his plans for conquest. Having learned of political strife in the Aztec empire, Cortés led his force into the Mexican interior. On the way to Tenochtitlán, he clashed with local Indians, but many of these people, including the nation of Tlaxcala, became his allies after learning of his plan to conquer their hated Aztec rulers. Hearing of the approach of Cortés, with his frightful horses and sophisticated weapons, Montezuma II tried to buy him off, but Cortés would not be dissuaded. On November 8, 1519, the Spaniards and their 1,000 Tlaxcaltec warriors were allowed to enter Tenochtitlán unopposed.

Montezuma suspected them to be divine envoys of the god Quetzalcatl, who was prophesied to return from the east in a "One Reed" year, which was 1519 on the Aztec calendar. The Spaniards were greeted with great honor, and Cortés seized the opportunity, taking Montezuma hostage so that he might govern the empire through him. His mistress, Marina, was a great help in this endeavor and succeeded in convincing Montezuma to cooperate fully.

In the spring of 1520, Cortés learned of the arrival of a Spanish force from Cuba, led by Pánfilo Narvez and sent by Velázquez to deprive Cortés of his command. Cortés led his army out of Tenochtitlán to meet them, leaving behind a garrison of 80 Spaniards and a few hundred Tlaxcaltecs to govern the city. Cortés defeated Narvez and enlisted Narvez' army into his own. When he returned to Tenochtitlán in June, he found the garrison under siege from the Aztecs, who had rebelled after the subordinate whom Cortés left in command of the city massacred several Aztec chiefs, and the population on the brink of revolt. On June 30, under pressure and lacking food, Cortés and his men fought their way out of the capital at heavy cost. Known to the Spanish as La Noche Triste, or "the Night of Sadness," many soldiers drowned in Lake Texcoco when the vessel carrying them and Aztec treasures hoarded by Cortés sank. Montezuma was killed in the fighting–in Aztec reports by the Spaniards, and in Spanish reports by an Aztec mob bitter at Montezuma's subservience to Spanish rule. He was succeeded as emperor by his brother, Cuitláhuac.

During the Spaniards' retreat, they defeated a large Aztec army at Otumba and then rejoined their Tlaxcaltec allies. In May 1521, Cortés returned to Tenochtitlán, and after a three-month siege the city fell. This victory marked the fall of the Aztec empire. Cuauhtámoc, Cuitláhuac's successor as emperor, was taken prisoner and later executed, and Cortés became the ruler of a vast Mexican empire.

The Spanish conquistador led an expedition to Honduras in 1524 and in 1528 returned to Spain to see the king. Charles made him Marqués del Valle but refused to name him governor because of his quarrels with Velázquez and others. In 1530, he returned to Mexico, now known as New Spain, and found the country in disarray. After restoring some order, he retired to his estate south of Mexico City and sent out maritime expeditions from the Pacific coast. In 1540, he returned to Spain and was neglected by the court. He died in 1547.
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Aug 13, 1966:
Prince Sihanouk criticizes the United States

Prince Norodom Sihanouk, ruler of neutral Cambodia, criticizes the United States about the attack on Thlock Track, a Cambodian village close to the South Vietnamese border. Sihanouk routinely challenged the United States and its South Vietnamese allies for border violations, but tacitly permitted communist forces to use his territory for transit, supply dumps and base areas. In the United States, General William C. Westmoreland, Commander of Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) met with President Johnson at his ranch in Texas to provide the general's personal assessment of allied progress in the war, reporting that advances were being made against the communist insurgents.
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Aug 13, 1961:
Yosemite killer Cary Stayner born

Cary Stayner, the serial killer convicted in the grisly murders of four women near Yosemite National Park, is born on this day in 1961. In 1972, Stayner's childhood took a tragic turn when his younger brother Steven, then seven, was kidnapped while walking home from school in the family's hometown of Merced, California. Steven's abductor, convicted child molester Kenneth Parnell, held him captive for seven years before he managed to escape and return home. Compounding the tragedy, Steven was killed in a 1989 motorcycle accident.

In 1997, Cary Stayner began working as a handyman at the Cedar Lodge in the town of El Portal, near Yosemite. On February 15, 1999, three tourists at the motel, 42-year-old Carole Sund, her 15-year-old daughter Juli and their 16-year-old family friend Silvina Pelosso, went missing. In March, the charred remains of Carol Sund and Pelosso were discovered in the trunk of their burned-out rental car in a remote area several hours from the Cedar Lodge. Juli Sund's decomposed body was discovered on March 25 in an isolated location less than an hour away from the rental car. Investigators initially interviewed Stayner in the case, but didn't believe the clean-cut handyman, who had no history of violence, was involved. Instead, the investigation focused on other employees at the Cedar Lodge and on suspicious persons in the town of Modesto, where Carol Sund's wallet was found in the street several days after her disappearance. Then, on July 22, 1999, the decapitated body of Joie Armstrong, a 26-year-old Yosemite naturalist, was found near her cabin.

Investigators, who believed she had been murdered the previous day, questioned Stayner and searched his truck, but let him go. Wanting to talk to him further, authorities then tracked him down at the Laguna Del Sol nudist camp in Wilton, California, on July 24, 1999. Later that day, in a surprising confession to FBI agent Jeff Rinek, Stayner admitted to killing all four women. Stayner later stated he had fantasized about killing women since he was a child and during trial, his lawyers argued he suffered the effects of mental illness, childhood sexual abuse and the trauma of his brother's kidnapping. Stayner was convicted in all four murders and given the death penalty.
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Duke of Buckingham
08-14-12, 07:20 AM
Aug 14, 2003:
Blackout hits Northeast United States

On this day in 2003, a major outage knocked out power across the eastern United States and parts of Canada. Beginning at 4:10 p.m. ET, 21 power plants shut down in just three minutes. Fifty million people were affected, including residents of New York, Cleveland and Detroit, as well as Toronto and Ottawa, Canada. Although power companies were able to resume some service in as little as two hours, power remained off in other places for more than a day. The outage stopped trains and elevators, and disrupted everything from cellular telephone service to operations at hospitals to traffic at airports. In New York City, it took more than two hours for passengers to be evacuated from stalled subway trains. Small business owners were affected when they lost expensive refrigerated stock. The loss of use of electric water pumps interrupted water service in many areas. There were even some reports of people being stranded mid-ride on amusement park roller coasters. At the New York Stock Exchange and bond market, though, trading was able to continue thanks to backup generators.

Authorities soon calmed the fears of jittery Americans that terrorists may have been responsible for the blackout, but they were initially unable to determine the cause of the massive outage. American and Canadian representatives pointed figures at each other, while politicians took the opportunity to point out major flaws in the region's outdated power grid. Finally, an investigation by a joint U.S.-Canada task force traced the problem back to an Ohio company, FirstEnergy Corporation. When the company's EastLake plant shut down unexpectedly after overgrown trees came into contact with a power line, it triggered a series of problems that led to a chain reaction of outages. FirstEnergy was criticized for poor line maintenance, and more importantly, for failing to notice and address the problem in a timely manner--before it affected other areas.

Despite concerns, there were very few reports of looting or other blackout-inspired crime. In New York City, the police department, out in full force, actually recorded about 100 fewer arrests than average. In some places, citizens even took it upon themselves to mitigate the effects of the outage, by assisting elderly neighbors or helping to direct traffic in the absence of working traffic lights.

In New York City alone, the estimated cost of the blackout was more than $500 million.
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Aug 14, 1980:
Massive labor strikes hit Poland

Workers in Gdansk, Poland, seize the Lenin Shipyard and demand pay raises and the right to form a union free from communist control. The massive strike also saw the rise to prominence of labor leader Lech Walesa, who would be a key figure in bringing an end to communist rule in Poland.

Gdansk had been a center of labor agitation in Poland since the 1960s. When the Polish government announced new economic austerity policies and higher food prices in 1980, workers at the Lenin Shipyard exploded in anger. Lech Walesa, a veteran of Poland's labor disputes, joined the workers and on August 14, 1980, they took over the shipyard. The workers' first demand was that Walesa be reinstated to his position as a labor leader. Walesa had been fired from his position at the shipyard in 1976, but remained active in labor protests and agitation against the communist government of Poland. For these actions, he was arrested numerous times. A few days after the workers had seized the shipyard, Walesa announced the formation of an organization designed to tie workers from different fields together into one labor movement, known as Solidarity. The strikers were finally able to wring some concessions from the Polish government, but in 1981 the communist regime struck back and arrested Walesa. He was released in November 1982. Solidarity continued to grow, and in 1989, the crumbling and desperate communist government agreed to recognize Solidarity and to have open elections. In 1990, Walesa was elected as the first noncommunist president of Poland since the end of World War II.

Walesa became a symbol of hope, not only to the Polish people but also to anticommunist movements around the world. In 1983, Walesa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with Solidarity.
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Aug 14, 1751:
A daughter poisons her father

Francis Blandy falls into a coma and dies in his home outside London, England. Later that night, Blandy's daughter Mary offered one of the family's servants a large sum of money to help her get to France immediately. Mary was forced to flee on her own when he refused, but she was chased down and caught by neighbors who had heard that Blandy had been poisoned.

The servants in the Blandy home had been suspicious of Mary because the unmarried 26-year-old had been having an affair with William Cranstoun, a penniless man with a wife back in Scotland, against her father's wishes. Cranstoun was determined to get a piece of the Blandy fortune.

Blandy had initially approved of the match, even allowing Cranstoun to live in their house. But when Cranstoun wrote his wife and kindly asked if she wouldn't mind disavowing their marriage, Mrs. Cranstoun became outraged and caused quite a local stir. Cranstoun was then abruptly tossed out of the house, yet Mary continued to see Cranstoun behind her father's back.

The couple, frustrated at their inability to touch Mary's sizeable dowry, decided to find another route to the money. Mary began slipping small amounts of arsenic into her father's food, slowly poisoning him over a period of months. As Blandy began to suffer from nausea and acute stomach pain, the servants grew suspicious. One found white powder in the bottom of a pan that Mary had used to feed her father. After Blandy eventually died, the cook saw Mary trying to dispose of the white powder and managed to preserve some of it.

Mary was charged with murder and faced trial at Oxford Assizes in March 1752. Doctors testifying for the prosecution agreed that Francis Blandy had been poisoned with arsenic. But the test they used on the powder was rather unscientific: They heated it and smelled the vapors—which everyone agreed was clearly arsenic. It wasn't until 40 years later that chemists finally developed true toxicology tests for arsenic. But the jury remained convinced, and Mary was sent to the gallows. She told the executioner, "Do not hang me too high, for the sake of decency."

Not long after Mary was executed, Cranstoun, who had escaped to France, died in poverty.
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Aug 14, 1994:
The terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal is captured

Terrorist Illich Ramirez Sanchez, long known as Carlos the Jackal, is captured in Khartoum, Sudan, by French intelligence agents. Since there was no extradition treaty with Sudan, the French agents sedated and kidnapped Carlos. The Sudanese government, claiming that it had assisted in the arrest, requested that the United States remove their country from its list of nations that sponsor terrorism.

Sanchez, who was affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Organization for Armed Arab Struggle, and the Japanese Red Army, was widely believed to be responsible for numerous terrorist attacks between 1973 and 1992. In 1974, he took the French ambassador and 10 others hostage at the Hague, demanding that French authorities release Yutaka Furuya of the Japanese Red Army.

On June 27, 1975, French police officers tried to arrest Sanchez in a Paris apartment, but he killed two officers in an ensuing gun battle and escaped. In June 1992, Sanchez was tried in absentia for these murders and convicted.

On December 21, 1975, Sanchez and a group of his men took 70 OPEC officials hostage at a Vienna conference. They made it to safety with somewhere between $25 million and $50 million in ransom money, but not before killing three hostages. Sanchez claimed responsibility for these crimes in an interview with the Arab magazine, Al Watan al Arabi.

In the subsequent trial that resulted in his imprisonment, Sanchez was represented by Jacque Verges, who had reportedly helped to organize a failed rocket attack on a French nuclear power plant in 1982. Verges was also accused of sending a threatening letter from Sanchez to the French authorities so that Sanchez's girlfriend (possibly his wife), German terrorist Magdalena Kopp, could be released. He bitterly denied the charges.
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Aug 14, 1985:
Michael Jackson takes control of the Beatles' publishing rights

It was during their collaboration on 1983's "Say Say Say" that former Beatle Paul McCartney is said to have advised King of Pop Michael Jackson to invest some of his enormous wealth in music publishing. It was sound financial advice that McCartney may have come to regret giving on this day in 1985, when Michael Jackson purchased the publishing rights to the vast majority of the Beatles' catalog for $47 million, outbidding McCartney himself.

To understand the sound business reasoning behind Jackson's move to take control of the publishing rights to some 251 Beatles' compositions, one must first understand some basic music-industry economics: Every time a copyrighted recording is exploited for commercial purposes—played on the radio, for instance, or used in a movie or television commercial—the party that uses that recording is required to pay a licensing fee. A portion of that fee will be paid out to the record label that issued the recording, and the record label, in turn, will pay a portion of its share to the performer. Separately, a portion of the licensing fee is due to the writer of the song in question. Songwriters—even those who are also performers—tend to enter into agreements with professional music-publishing companies to manage the collection of their songwriting royalties. In a typical arrangement, a publisher might take 50 percent of a songwriter's royalties in exchange for handling collections and for actively promoting the commercial use of his songs.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney, the Beatles' primary songwriters, did something slightly more complicated. The publishing agreement they signed was with a company of which they were also part owners. That company, called Northern Songs, Ltd., was formed in 1964 expressly to generate revenues from the growing catalog of Lennon-McCartney compositions. In this way, every sale or other commercial use of the song "Yesterday" earned Lennon and McCartney a songwriting royalty that they split with Northern Songs. And part of Northern Songs' share would then come back to Lennon and McCartney as part owners of the company.

In 1969, the British company Associated TeleVision completed a messy and contentious takeover of Northern Songs, which in turn led Lennon and McCartney to pull out of their contract for future compositions and to sell off their own shares in the company. More than 15 years later, in 1985, as ATV prepared to sell its entire publishing catalog, Paul McCartney anticipated purchasing it himself, only to be thwarted by Michael Jackson, who was then at the peak of his financial power.

In the years afterward, that catalog—now estimated to be worth in excess of $1 billion—allowed Jackson to remain solvent by serving as collateral for several enormous personal loans that funded his extravagant lifestyle through years of low earnings and legal difficulties. In 2008, however, Jackson gave up his remaining interest in the catalog to Sony, one of his primary creditors.
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Duke of Buckingham
08-15-12, 06:50 AM
Aug 15, 1969:
The Woodstock festival opens in Bethel, New York

On this day in 1969, the Woodstock Music Festival opens on a patch of farmland in White Lake, a hamlet in the upstate New York town of Bethel.

Promoters John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfield and Michael Lang originally envisioned the festival as a way to raise funds to build a recording studio and rock-and-roll retreat near the town of Woodstock, New York. The longtime artists' colony was already a home base for Bob Dylan and other musicians. Despite their relative inexperience, the young promoters managed to sign a roster of top acts, including the Jefferson Airplane, the Who, the Grateful Dead, Sly and the Family Stone, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Creedence Clearwater Revival and many more. Plans for the festival were on the verge of foundering, however, after both Woodstock and the nearby town of Wallkill denied permission to hold the event. Dairy farmer Max Yasgur came to the rescue at the last minute, giving the promoters access to his 600 acres of land in Bethel, some 50 miles from Woodstock.

Early estimates of attendance increased from 50,000 to around 200,000, but by the time the gates opened on Friday, August 15, more than 400,000 people were clamoring to get in. Those without tickets simply walked through gaps in the fences, and the organizers were eventually forced to make the event free of charge. Folk singer and guitarist Richie Havens kicked off the event with a long set, and Joan Baez and Arlo Guthrie also performed on Friday night.

Somewhat improbably, the chaotic gathering of half a million young "hippies" lived up to its billing of "Three Days of Peace and Music." There were surprisingly few incidents of violence on the overcrowded grounds, and a number of musicians performed songs expressing their opposition to the Vietnam War. Among the many great moments at the Woodstock Music Festival were career-making performances by up-and-coming acts like Santana, Joe Cocker and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; the Who's early-morning set featuring songs from their classic rock opera "Tommy"; and the closing set by Hendrix, which climaxed with an improvised solo guitar performance of "The Star Spangled Banner."

Though Woodstock had left its promoters nearly bankrupt, their ownership of the film and recording rights more than compensated for the losses after the release of a hit documentary film in 1970. Later music festivals inspired by Woodstock's success failed to live up to its standard, and the festival still stands for many as a example of America's 1960s youth counterculture at its best.
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRCIVXS8-zE


Aug 15, 1964:
Khrushchev announces he is ready to begin arms talks

Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev declares that he is ready to begin disarmament talks with the West. Though the Russian leader declined to discuss specific plans for disarmament, his statement was interpreted as an indication that he sought to limit the possibility of nuclear conflict between the Soviet Union and the Western powers.

Khrushchev's comments, made during an interview while he was visiting London, came less than two years after the Cuban missile crisis. In October 1962, the United States discovered that the Soviets were constructing missile bases in Cuba capable of firing rockets with nuclear warheads. In the ensuing weeks, President John F. Kennedy demanded that the missile bases be removed, while Premier Khrushchev was equally insistent in claiming that the bases were purely for defensive purposes. Eventually, Kennedy ordered a blockade of Cuba to prevent any more missiles from being delivered. Khrushchev backed down after securing an American promise to respect the sovereignty of Cuba. The world had never come closer to nuclear war.

The following year, the United States and Russia signed the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, barring the testing of atomic weapons under water or in the atmosphere. Khrushchev's August 1964 comments reflected the Soviet leader's continued interest in avoiding nuclear conflict. The premier declared that, "A new initiative would be welcome," and indicated that he would be prepared to attend a multinational disarmament conference in early 1965. He also suggested that if an agreement could be reached, the Soviet Union would be willing to allow verification inspections. "If we make a disarmament agreement and a start is actually made on disarmament, then we will allow free inspections as part of the specific program--and close inspections, too, so no one cheats."

Nothing came of Khrushchev's offer, however. In Washington, spokesmen for President Lyndon B. Johnson indicated that with the presidential election so near, Johnson did not want to make any specific promises about future international conferences. For Khrushchev, the comments made in London may have sealed his fate. Already under attack by hard-liners in the Russian government and military because of his apparent willingness to cooperate with the Americans and cut Soviet military spending, Khrushchev was forced to resign as premier in October 1964. The much more inflexible and far less colorful Leonid Brezhnev replaced him.
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Aug 15, 2006:
Wife of slain minister released from jail

Mary Winkler, who confessed to fatally shooting her pastor husband Matthew Winkler in his sleep at their church parsonage in Selmer, Tennessee, is released from jail on $750,000 bail. Winkler was later convicted in his killing, but served only a short time in prison.

On March 22, 2006, church members found 31-year-old Matthew Winkler in his bedroom, dead from a shotgun wound in the back. The well-liked minister had failed to show up for evening services. The following day, Mary Winkler, then 32, was arrested in Alabama, driving her three young daughters in the family’s minivan. Winkler told police she shot her husband following an argument. She remained in prison until August 15, 2006, when she was released on bail.

During trial, Winkler claimed her husband had abused her physically and sexually. She also maintained the gun had gone off accidentally. The prosecution argued Winkler had become involved in a financial scam and was trying to hide it from her husband. On April 19, 2007, after deliberating for eight hours, a jury found Winkler guilty of voluntary manslaughter. She was sentenced to three years in prison, but the judge ruled she only had to serve 210 days. Winkler received credit for the five months she’d already spent in jail and the judge allowed her to serve the final 60 days in a mental health facility in Tennessee. She was released on August 14, 2007.
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Aug 15, 1914:
Panama Canal open to traffic

The American-built waterway across the Isthmus of Panama, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, is inaugurated with the passage of the U.S. vessel Ancon, a cargo and passenger ship.

The rush of settlers to California and Oregon in the mid 19th century was the initial impetus of the U.S. desire to build an artificial waterway across Central America. In 1855, the United States completed a railroad across the Isthmus of Panama (then part of Colombia), prompting various parties to propose canal-building plans. Ultimately, Colombia awarded rights to build the canal to Ferdinand de Lesseps, the French entrepreneur who had completed the Suez Canal in 1869. Construction on a sea-level canal began in 1881, but inadequate planning, disease among the workers, and financial problems drove Lesseps' company into bankruptcy in 1889. Three years later, Philippe-Jean Bunau-Varilla, a former chief engineer of the canal works and a French citizen, acquired the assets of the defunct French company.

By the turn of the century, sole possession of the isthmian canal became imperative to the United States, which had acquired an overseas empire at the end of the Spanish-American War and sought the ability to move warships and commerce quickly between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. In 1902, the U.S. Congress authorized purchase of the French canal company (pending a treaty with Colombia), and allocated funding for the canal's construction. In 1903, the Hay-Bunau Varilla Treaty was signed with Columbia, granting the U.S. use of the territory in exchange for financial compensation. The U.S. Senate ratified the treaty, but the Colombian Senate, fearing a loss of sovereignty, refused.

In response, President Theodore Roosevelt gave tacit approval to a Panamanian independence movement, which was engineered in large part by Philippe-Jean Bunau-Varilla and his canal company. On November 3, 1903, a faction of Panamanians issued a declaration of independence from Colombia. The U.S.-administered railroad removed its trains from the northern terminus of Colón, thus stranding Colombian troops sent to crush the rebellion. Other Colombian forces were discouraged from marching on Panama by the arrival of U.S. warship Nashville.

On November 6, the United States recognized the Republic of Panama, and on November 18 the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty was signed with Panama, granting the U.S. exclusive and permanent possession of the Panama Canal Zone. In exchange, Panama received $10 million and an annuity of $250,000 beginning nine years later. The treaty was negotiated by U.S. Secretary of State John Hay and Bunau-Varilla, who had been given plenipotentiary powers to negotiate on behalf of Panama. Almost immediately, the treaty was condemned by many Panamanians as an infringement on their country's new national sovereignty.

In 1906, American engineers decided on the construction of a lock canal, and the next three years were spent developing construction facilities and eradicating tropical diseases in the area. In 1909, construction proper began. In one of the largest construction projects of all time, U.S. engineers moved nearly 240 million cubic yards of earth and spent close to $400 million in constructing the 40-mile-long canal (or 51 miles long, if the deepened seabed on both ends of the canal is taken into account). On August 15, 1914, the Panama Canal was opened to traffic.

Panama later pushed to revoke the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty, and in 1977 U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Panamanian dictator Omar Torrijos signed a treaty to turn over the canal to Panama by the end of the century. A peaceful transfer occurred at noon on December 31, 1999.
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Aug 15, 1947:
India and Pakistan win independence

The Indian Independence Bill, which carves the independent nations of India and Pakistan out of the former Mogul Empire, comes into force at the stroke of midnight. The long-awaited agreement ended 200 years of British rule and was hailed by Indian independence leader Mohandas Gandhi as the "noblest act of the British nation." However, religious strife between Hindus and Muslims, which had delayed Britain's granting of Indian independence after World War II, soon marred Gandhi's exhilaration. In the northern province of Punjab, which was sharply divided between Hindu-dominated India and Muslim-dominated Pakistan, hundreds of people were killed in the first few days after independence.

The Indian independence movement first gained momentum at the beginning of the 20th century, and after World War I Gandhi organized the first of his many effective passive-resistance campaigns in protest of Britain's oppressive rule in India. In the 1930s, the British government made some concessions to the Indian nationalists, but during World War II discontent with British rule had grown to such a degree that Britain feared losing India to the Axis.

Gandhi and other nationalist leaders rejected as empty the British promises of Indian self-government after the war and organized the nonviolent "Quit India" campaign to hasten the British departure. British colonial authorities responded by jailing Gandhi and hundreds of others. Anti-British demonstrations accelerated after the war, and in 1947 the Indian National Congress reluctantly accepted the creation of Pakistan to appease the Muslim League and conclude the independence negotiations. On August 15, 1947, the Indian Independence Bill took effect, inaugurating a period of religious turmoil in India and Pakistan that would result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands, including Gandhi, who was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic in January 1948 during a prayer vigil to an area of Muslim-Hindu violence.
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Aug 15, 1812:
Indian captive William Wells is killed

Potawatomi Indians kill William Wells, an Indian captive turned Indian fighter.

Born in Pennsylvania in 1770, Wells migrated with his family to Kentucky when he was nine years old. Five years later he was captured by Miami Indians and adopted into the family of the Wea village chief Gaviahatte. The young boy quickly adapted to Indian ways. He became a distinguished warrior and married the daughter of a prominent Miami war chief.

For several years, Wells fought with the Miami against American soldiers attempting to push them off their land. In 1792, however, the army captured his wife and adopted mother. In exchange for their freedom, Wells agreed to join the American army as an interpreter. A reunion with a long lost brother helped reinforce the allegiance of Wells to the Americans, though his loyalties remained conflicted for the rest of his life.

For several years, Wells was an invaluable scout and interpreter for the U.S. Army, helping the Americans defeat the hostile factions of the Miami and other tribes. In 1797, he was appointed Indian agent for the Miami, Delaware, Potawatomi, and other tribes of the Old Northwest (the modern-day Midwest). Yet, increasing pressure for the Indians to give up their lands to white settlers led to renewed conflicts, and Wells was often caught between the two groups.

The outbreak of the War of 1812 with Great Britain heightened an already tense situation as some Indians saw the war as chance to join forces with the British to push out the Americans. Concerned about the safety of the Americans at Fort Dearborn (in Chicago), where his niece was married to the fort commander, Wells quickly raised a rescue party of 30 Miami Indians who were loyal to him and the United States and headed north. When he arrived on August 13, he found the fort surrounded by hostile Indians. Wells argued for staying at the fort and making a stand until a larger force of American soldiers could arrive. But the commander insisted on evacuation.

On this day in 1812, Wells led a small company of men, women, and children out of the fort. They had not gone far before hundreds of Potawatomi Indians ambushed the party, killing more than 50 and taking the remainder captive. Wells, who was dressed and painted as a Miami warrior, fought heroically but was eventually shot through the lungs. When he fell from his horse, witnesses claimed the Potawatomi swarmed over his body, cut out his heart, and divided it among them.
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Duke of Buckingham
08-16-12, 08:48 AM
Aug 16, 1896:
Gold discovered in the Yukon

While salmon fishing near the Klondike River in Canada's Yukon Territory on this day in 1896, George Carmack reportedly spots nuggets of gold in a creek bed. His lucky discovery sparks the last great gold rush in the American West.

Hoping to cash in on reported gold strikes in Alaska, Carmack had traveled there from California in 1881. After running into a dead end, he headed north into the isolated Yukon Territory, just across the Canadian border. In 1896, another prospector, Robert Henderson, told Carmack of finding gold in a tributary of the Klondike River. Carmack headed to the region with two Native American companions, known as Skookum Jim and Tagish Charlie. On August 16, while camping near Rabbit Creek, Carmack reportedly spotted a nugget of gold jutting out from the creek bank. His two companions later agreed that Skookum Jim--Carmack's brother-in-law--actually made the discovery.

Regardless of who spotted the gold first, the three men soon found that the rock near the creek bed was thick with gold deposits. They staked their claim the following day. News of the gold strike spread fast across Canada and the United States, and over the next two years, as many as 50,000 would-be miners arrived in the region. Rabbit Creek was renamed Bonanza, and even more gold was discovered in another Klondike tributary, dubbed Eldorado.

"Klondike Fever" reached its height in the United States in mid-July 1897 when two steamships arrived from the Yukon in San Francisco and Seattle, bringing a total of more than two tons of gold. Thousands of eager young men bought elaborate "Yukon outfits" (kits assembled by clever marketers containing food, clothing, tools and other necessary equipment) and set out on their way north. Few of these would find what they were looking for, as most of the land in the region had already been claimed. One of the unsuccessful gold-seekers was 21-year-old Jack London, whose short stories based on his Klondike experience became his first book, The Son of the Wolf (1900).

For his part, Carmack became rich off his discovery, leaving the Yukon with $1 million worth of gold. Many individual gold miners in the Klondike eventually sold their stakes to mining companies, who had the resources and machinery to access more gold. Large-scale gold mining in the Yukon Territory didn't end until 1966, and by that time the region had yielded some $250 million in gold. Today, some 200 small gold mines still operate in the region.
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Aug 16, 1984:
Los Angeles jury clears John Z. DeLorean of drug charges

After close to 30 hours of deliberation, a jury of six men and six women unanimously acquits the former automaker John Z. DeLorean of eight counts of drug trafficking in Los Angeles, California, on this day in 1984.

A Detroit native and the son of an autoworker, DeLorean began working for the Packard Motor Company as an engineer in 1952. He rose quickly at Packard and later at General Motors (GM), where he moved in 1956. At GM, he managed both the Pontiac and Chevrolet divisions before becoming a vice president in 1972. DeLorean's flashy style and self-promotional ability distinguished him in the staid culture of the auto industry, while his ambition and appetite for innovation seemed never to be satisfied: He claimed to hold more than 200 patents and was credited with such developments as the lane-change turn signal, overhead cam-engine and racing stripes.

In 1975, DeLorean left GM to found the DeLorean Motor Company and follow his dream of building a high-performance and futuristic but still economical sports car. With funds from the British government, DeLorean opened his car plant near Belfast in Northern Ireland in 1978 to manufacture his eponymous dream car: Officially the DMC-12 but often called simply the DeLorean, it had an angular stainless-steel body, a rear-mounted engine and distinctive "gull-wing" doors that opened upward. After skyrocketing production costs caused the DMC-12's price tag to top $25,000 (at a time when the average car cost just $10,000) sales were insufficient to keep the company afloat. Following an investigation into suspected financial irregularities, the British government announced the closing of the DeLorean Motor Company on October 19, 1982. That same day, John DeLorean was arrested and charged with conspiring to obtain and distribute $24 million worth of cocaine.

The prosecution's seemingly airtight case centered on a videotaped conversation about the drug deal between DeLorean and undercover FBI agents. If convicted, DeLorean faced up to 60 years in prison. DeLorean's defense team argued that he had been entrapped, or lured into a situation that made it look like he had committed a crime. On August 6, 1984, the jury issued its surprising acquittal verdict. Over the next 15 years, DeLorean saw his dream car shoot to Hollywood stardom (in the "Back to the Future" film trilogy) even as he battled nearly 40 legal cases relating to his failed auto company. He declared bankruptcy in 1999 and died in 2005, at the age of 80.
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Aug 16, 1955:
Paul Robeson loses appeal over his passport

Famous entertainer and civil rights activist Paul Robeson loses his court appeal to try to force the Department of State to grant him a passport. The continued government persecution of Robeson illustrated several interesting points about Cold War America.

Robeson was the most famous African-American entertainer in the world, renowned for his work on Broadway, in films, and his incredibly powerful bass-baritone singing voice. Beyond these dramatic talents, Robeson was also an extremely intelligent advocate of civil rights in the United States. He became so dismayed about segregation and racism in America that he left the country in 1928, and lived in Europe until the outbreak of World War II in 1939. During his time abroad, Robeson became enamored with the Soviet Union, particularly its very public disavowals of racism and discrimination. During World War II, when the United States was allied with the Russians against Hitler, Robeson's views were tolerated and he gave numerous performances to U.S. troops around the world. After the war, as the Cold War developed, Robeson's very public statements in support of the Soviet Union began to cause problems.

In 1950, he attempted to renew his passport so that he could travel abroad to fulfill contracts for singing and acting performances. The State Department insisted that Robeson sign an affidavit declaring that he was not a member of the Communist Party and that he was loyal to the United States. Robeson refused and filed suit in federal court. In August 1955, a federal judge ruled that the State Department was within its legal rights to refuse Robeson a passport. After the decision, Robeson declared that it was "rather absurd" that he was not "allowed to travel because of my friendship--open, spoken friendship--for the Soviet people and the peoples of all the world."

Robeson was seen as a danger because he often interspersed his performances with comments about race relations in the United States. Before and after his performances, he gave numerous interviews condemning segregation and discrimination in America. For some U.S. policymakers, who viewed America's poor record of race relations as the nation's "Achilles' heel" in terms of the propaganda war with the Soviet Union, having a well known African-American denounce segregation and praise the Russians was unacceptable.

In 1958, Robeson finally won his court case and his passport was grudgingly restored. The damage to Robeson's career, however, was already done. He performed for a few more years, and then retired in the 1960s, although the FBI kept up its investigations of Robeson until his death in 1976.
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Aug 16, 1987:
Plane crashes into highway

A plane crash at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Michigan kills 156 people on this day in 1987. A four-year-old girl was the sole survivor of the accident, which was caused by pilot error.

Northwest Flight 255 was headed to California with a stopover in Phoenix when it pulled away from the gate in Detroit. While the DC-9 Super 82 taxied out to the runway, the pilot and co-pilot failed to conduct their pre-flight checks according to procedure and, as a result, the takeoff-warning system was never turned on. Later, there was speculation that the pilots may have been rushing the checks to avoid incoming bad weather.

A lack of communication between the pilot and co-pilot turned into a deadly mistake when neither extended the wing flaps prior to takeoff. The extended flaps work as a lifting surface on the leading edge of the wings. As the plane rushed down the 6,800-foot runway, it lifted only 40 feet off the ground when it should already have been 600 feet in the air. At the end of the runway, the plane hit lampposts and a rental-car office. The plane then crashed onto a road a half of a mile away. On the Interstate 94 Bridge in Romulus, the plane hit a car and killed both people in the vehicle.

The fiery crash that ensued killed 154 other people, including Nick Vanos, a center for the NBA's Phoenix Suns. Remarkably, one person survived the accident, four-year-old Cecelia Cichan of Tempe, Arizona.
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Aug 16, 1977:
Elvis Presley dies

Popular music icon Elvis Presley dies in Memphis, Tennessee. He was 42. The death of the "King of Rock and Roll" brought legions of mourning fans to Graceland, his mansion in Memphis. Doctors said he died of a heart attack, likely brought on by his addiction to prescription barbiturates.

Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, on January 8, 1935. His twin brother, Jesse, died during the birth. Elvis grew up dirt-poor in Tupelo and Memphis and found work as a truck driver after high school. When he was 19, he walked into a Memphis recording studio and paid $4 to record a few songs as a present to his mother. Sam Philips, the owner of the studio, was intrigued by the rough, soulful quality of his voice and invited Presley back to practice with some local musicians. After Philips heard Elvis sing the rhythm-and-blues song "That's All Right," which Presley imbued with an accessible country-and-western flavor, he agreed to release the rendition as a single on his Sun Records label. The recording went to the top of the local charts, and Presley's career was launched.

During the next year, Elvis attracted a growing following in the South, and in 1955 Sun Records sold his contract to a major record label, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), for a record $40,000. His first record for RCA was "Heartbreak Hotel," which made him a national sensation in early 1956. He followed this up with the double-sided hit record "Hound Dog"/"Don't Be Cruel." In September 1956, Elvis appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, a national variety television show, and teenagers went into hysterics over his dynamic stage presence, good looks, and simple but catchy songs. Many parents, however, were appalled by his sexually suggestive pelvic gyrations, and by his third appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, Elvis was filmed from only the waist up.

From 1956 through 1958, Elvis dominated the music charts and ushered in the age of rock and roll, opening doors for both white and black rock artists. During this period, he starred in four successful motion pictures, all of which featured his soundtracks: Love Me Tender (1956), Jailhouse Rock (1957), Loving You (1957), and King Creole (1958).

In 1958, Presley was drafted into the U.S. Army and served an 18-month tour of duty in West Germany as a Jeep driver. Teenage girls were overcome with grief, but Elvis' manager, Colonel Tom Parker, kept American youth satiated with stockpiled recordings that Presley made before his departure. All five singles released during this period eventually became million-sellers.

After being discharged as a sergeant in 1960, Elvis underwent a style change, eschewing edgy, rhythm-and-blues-inspired material in favor of romantic, dramatic ballads such as "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" He retired from concerts to concentrate on his musical films, and he made 27 in the 1960s, including G.I. Blues (1960), Blue Hawaii (1961), Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962), Viva Las Vegas (1964), and Frankie and Johnny (1966). In 1967, he married Priscilla Beaulieu, and the couple had a daughter, Lisa Marie, in 1968.

By the end of the 1960s, rock and roll had undergone dramatic changes, and Elvis was no longer seen as relevant by American youth. A 1968 television special won back many of his fans, but hits were harder to come by. His final Top 10 entry, "Burning Love," was in 1972. Still, he maintained his sizable fortune through lucrative concert and television appearances.

By the mid 1970s, Elvis was in declining physical and mental health. He divorced his wife in 1973 and developed a dangerous dependence on prescription drugs. He was also addicted to junk food and gained considerable weight. In the last two years of his life, he made erratic stage appearances and lived nearly as a recluse. On the afternoon of August 16, 1977, he was found unconscious in his Graceland mansion and rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. He was buried on the grounds of Graceland, which continues to attract fans and has been turned into a highly successful tourist attraction.
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9saX9cF248

Duke of Buckingham
08-17-12, 09:40 AM
Aug 17, 1915:
Charles Kettering receives patent for electric self-starter


Charles F. Kettering, co-founder of Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (DELCO) in Dayton, Ohio, is issued U.S. Patent No. 1,150,523 for his "engine-starting device"--the first electric ignition device for automobiles--on August 17, 1915.

In the early years of the automobile, drivers used iron hand cranks to start the internal combustion process that powered the engines on their cars. In addition to requiring great hand and arm strength, this system was not without certain risks: If the driver forgot to turn his ignition off before turning the crank, the car could backfire or roll forward, as at the time most vehicles had no brakes. Clearly a better system was needed, and in 1911 Cadillac head Henry M. Leland gave Charles Kettering the task of developing one.

Before founding DELCO with his partner Edward Deeds in 1909, Kettering had worked at the National Cash Register Company, where he helped develop the first electric cash register. He drew on this experience when approaching his work with automobiles. Just as the touch of a button had started a motor that opened the drawer of the cash register, Kettering would eventually use a key to turn on his self-starting motor. The self-starter was introduced in the 1912 Cadillac, patented by Kettering in 1915, and by the 1920s would come standard on nearly every new automobile. By making cars easier and safer to operate, especially for women, the self-starting engine caused a huge jump in sales, and helped foster a fast-growing automobile culture in America.

United Motors Corporation (later General Motors) bought DELCO in 1916, and Kettering worked as vice president and director of research at GM from 1920 to 1947. Other important auto-related innovations developed during Kettering's tenure were quick-drying automotive paint, spark plugs, leaded gasoline, shock absorbers, the automatic transmission, four-wheel brakes, the diesel engine and safety glass. He helped develop the refrigerant Freon, used in refrigerators and air conditioners, and the Kettering home in Dayton was the first in the country to be air-conditioned. In the realm of medicine, Kettering created a treatment for venereal disease and an incubator for premature infants, and in 1945 he and longtime General Motors head Alfred P. Sloan established the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research in New York City. Kettering died in 1958.
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Aug 17, 1962:
East Germans kill man trying to cross Berlin Wall


East German guards gun down a young man trying to escape across the Berlin Wall into West Berlin and leave him to bleed to death. It was one of the ugliest incidents to take place at one of the ugliest symbols of the Cold War.

The 1962 incident occurred almost a year to the day that construction began on the Berlin Wall. In August 1961, East Berlin authorities began stringing barbed wire across the boundary between East and West Berlin. In just a matter of days, a concrete block wall was under construction, complete with guard towers. In the months that followed, more barbed wire, machine guns, searchlights, guard posts, dogs, mines, and concrete barriers were set up, completely separating the two halves of the city. American officials condemned the communist action, but did nothing to halt construction of the wall.

On August 17, 1962, two young men from East Berlin attempted to scramble to freedom across the wall. One was successful in climbing the last barbed wire fence and, though suffering numerous cuts, made it safely to West Berlin. While horrified West German guards watched, the second young man was shot by machine guns on the East Berlin side. He fell but managed to stand up again, reach the wall, and begin to climb over. More shots rang out. The young man was hit in the back, screamed, and fell backwards off of the wall. For nearly an hour, he lay bleeding to death and crying for help. West German guards threw bandages to the man, and an angry crowd of West Berlin citizens screamed at the East German security men who seemed content to let the young man die. He finally did die, and East German guards scurried to where he lay and removed his body.

During the history of the Berlin Wall (1961 to 1989), nearly 80 people were killed trying to cross from East to West Berlin. East German officials always claimed that the wall was erected to protect the communist regime from the pernicious influences of Western capitalism and culture. In the nearly 30 years that the wall existed, however, no one was ever shot trying to enter East Berlin.
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Aug 17, 1999:
Earthquake exposes weak infrastructure


On this day in 1999, an earthquake in northwestern Turkey kills more than 17,000 people and leaves more than 250,000 homeless. The immense disaster exposed serious problems with government and building contractors in Turkey.

The Northern Anatolian fault runs parallel to the south shore of the Black Sea in northern Turkey. It is on a small plate, 10 miles beneath the surface, between the Arabian and African plates. Tremors struck the area in 1942 and 1944, but in the years afterward it became the most populated region in the country, home to upwards of 20 million people.

At 3:02 a.m. on August 17, a 7.4-magnitude quake struck, centered in Izmit, a coastal town not far from Istanbul. The quake devastated a large area, bringing down an estimated 40,000 homes and other buildings and igniting a terrible fire at an oil refinery in Bursa. In Yalova, 90 percent of the houses were demolished and, in Golcuk, hundreds of soldiers were trapped in the rubble of an army building. Bridges collapsed and roads were buried.

Compounding the tragedy, the Turkish government was not well-prepared for the disaster. Many people were trapped under collapsed buildings and homes, and the government was unable to send any rescue crews for days. Israel sent the first major rescue team; many other nations followed. With the Turkish government slow to respond, thousands of volunteers from other parts of the country flooded the area as they heard about people begging in the streets for help in saving their trapped relatives. Unfortunately, this may have caused more problems than it solved, as the extra traffic clogged available roads, making it difficult for experts to reach the affected areas. Still, survivors were pulled out for days after the earthquake. A 95-year-old woman was rescued by Austrian workers four days later. The last survivor was pulled out from the rubble six days after the disaster.

The earthquake also exposed serious problems with the building industry in Turkey. Many of the region's newer buildings collapsed in an instant when the quake struck. It was revealed that, in many building projects, cheap iron rods had been used and there was too much sand mixed in the concrete, resulting in structural instability. It became clear that building regulations had not been enforced. In response, contractors, engineers and building owners were arrested throughout the area. Veli Grocer, a contractor in Yalova, had his house burned down by angry victims and was eventually forced to flee from the country.

Aftershocks continued for months and, on November 15, a 7.2-magnitude quake centered near Duzce killed another 400 people.
http://craighillnet.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/aug-17-turkey-earthquake-e1345117269560.jpg?w=750


Aug 17, 1943:
Patton wins race to Messina


U.S. General George S. Patton and his 7th Army arrive in Messina several hours before British Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery and his 8th Army, winning the unofficial "Race to Messina" and completing the Allied conquest of Sicily.

Born in San Gabriel, California, in 1885, Patton's family had a long history of military service. After studying at West Point, he served as a tank officer in World War I, and these experiences, along with his extensive military study, led him to become an advocate of the crucial importance of the tank in future warfare. After the American entrance into World War II, Patton was placed in command of an important U.S. tank division and played a key role in the Allied invasion of French North Africa in 1942. In 1943, Patton led the U.S. 7th Army in its assault on Sicily and won fame for out-commanding Montgomery during their pincer movement against Messina.

Although Patton was one of the ablest American commanders in World War II, he was also one of the most controversial. He presented himself as a modern-day cavalryman, designed his own uniform, and was known to make eccentric claims of his direct descent from great military leaders of the past through reincarnation. During the Sicilian campaign, Patton generated considerable controversy when he accused a hospitalized U.S. soldier suffering from battle fatigue of cowardice and then personally struck him across the face. The famously profane general was forced to issue a public apology and was reprimanded by General Dwight Eisenhower.

However, when it was time for the invasion of Western Europe, Eisenhower could find no general as formidable as Patton, and the general was again granted an important military post. In 1944, Patton commanded the U.S. 3rd Army in the invasion of France, and in December of that year his expertise in military movement and tank warfare helped crush the German counteroffensive in the Ardennes.

During one of his many successful campaigns, General Patton was said to have declared, "Compared to war, all other forms of human endeavor shrink to insignificance." On December 21, 1945, he died in a hospital in Germany from injuries sustained in an automobile accident near Mannheim.
http://www.history.co.uk/this-day-in-history/July-10/mainPhoto/sicily.jpg

Duke of Buckingham
08-18-12, 07:26 AM
Aug 18, 1991:
Soviet hard-liners launch coup against Gorbachev


On this day in 1991, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev is placed under house arrest during a coup by high-ranking members of his own government, military and police forces.

Since becoming secretary of the Communist Party in 1985 and president of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1988, Gorbachev had pursued comprehensive reforms of the Soviet system. Combining perestroika ("restructuring") of the economy--including a greater emphasis on free-market policies--and glasnost ("openness") in diplomacy, he greatly improved Soviet relations with Western democracies, particularly the United States. Meanwhile, though, within the USSR, Gorbachev faced powerful critics, including conservative, hard-line politicians and military officials who thought he was driving the Soviet Union toward its downfall and making it a second-rate power. On the other side were even more radical reformers--particularly Boris Yeltsin, president of the most powerful socialist republic, Russia--who complained that Gorbachev was just not working fast enough.

The August 1991 coup was carried out by the hard-line elements within Gorbachev's own administration, as well as the heads of the Soviet army and the KGB, or secret police. Detained at his vacation villa in the Crimea, he was placed under house arrest and pressured to give his resignation, which he refused to do. Claiming Gorbachev was ill, the coup leaders, headed by former vice president Gennady Yanayev, declared a state of emergency and attempted to take control of the government.

Yeltsin and his backers from the Russian parliament then stepped in, calling on the Russian people to strike and protest the coup. When soldiers tried to arrest Yeltsin, they found the way to the parliamentary building blocked by armed and unarmed civilians. Yeltsin himself climbed aboard a tank and spoke through a megaphone, urging the troops not to turn against the people and condemning the coup as a "new reign of terror." The soldiers backed off, some of them choosing to join the resistance. After thousands took the streets to demonstrate, the coup collapsed after only three days.

Gorbachev was released and flown to Moscow, but his regime had been dealt a deadly blow. Over the next few months, he dissolved the Communist Party, granted independence to the Baltic states, and proposed a looser, more economics-based federation among the remaining republics. In December 1991, Gorbachev resigned. Yeltsin capitalized on his defeat of the coup, emerging from the rubble of the former Soviet Union as the most powerful figure in Moscow and the leader of the newly formed Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
http://www.thecarolinascoop.com/soviet.jpg


Aug 18, 1988:
A Seattle judge involved in a sex scandal commits suicide
The Honorable Gary M. Little shoots himself just hours before the Seattle Post-Intelligencer releases an article accusing him of abusing his power by sexually exploiting juvenile defendants who appeared before him. The front-page article also suggested that he had exploited his teenage students as a teacher in the 1960s and 1970s. The scandal raised questions about the judicial system, because Little had been investigated and disciplined, but the investigations had been kept a secret. In 1981, Little's first year as a judge, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer received a tip about Little's unusual relations with juvenile defendants. When the reporter investigated the matter, he found that Little, who was working as a volunteer counselor in juvenile court at the time, had been charged with third-degree assault in 1964. He was accused of assaulting a 16-year-old defendant in his apartment, but the charges had been dismissed. The paper never published the story, but it sparked an investigation by deputies working for King County prosecuting attorney Norm Maleng.

Reportedly, Little had visited three male juvenile defendants in detention without their attorneys present. One boy spent the night at the judge's house, and another had spent time with him at his vacation home. Little never denied any of the accusations of his contact with the juveniles outside of the court but claimed that he was merely trying to help them. No evidence of sexual contact ever surfaced, but one prosecutor noted that all of the young defendants were handsome, blond, and male, and that there was strong evidence suggesting that the youths who had spent the night with Judge Little had received reduced sentences. The investigators submitted a 107-page complaint with the Judicial Conduct Commission, which dismissed the case and ordered that the information remain confidential.

Eventually, in 1985, Judge Little was quietly removed from presiding over juvenile cases. Also that year, the first public mention of the subject was published in the Seattle Times. However, the reporter who wrote the article was soon pulled off the case, despite new evidence that came forth after its publication. The issue was once again swept under the rug, where it remained until 1988, when two reporters from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer resumed the investigation. Soon after these reporters obtained affidavits by five former students claiming that Little had used his position as a teacher to extract sexual favors from them, Little announced that he would not run for re-election.

On the night of August 18, 1988, Gary Little was found lying in a pool of blood outside his chambers--three floors below the jail cell where his father, Sterling Little, hanged himself in August 1947 after being arrested in a burglary investigation.


Aug 18, 1931:
Yangtze River peaks in China


On this day in 1931, the Yangtze River in China peaks during a horrible flood that kills 3.7 million people directly and indirectly over the next several months. This was perhaps the worst natural disaster of the 20th century.

The Yangtze River runs through southern China, one of the most populated areas on Earth. The region's people, most of whom lived at subsistence level, depended on the river for water for their personal and farming needs. In April, the river-basin area received far-above-average rainfall. When torrential rains came again in July, the stage was set for disaster. The Yangtze flooded over a 500-square-mile area. The rising waters drove 500,000 people from their homes by the beginning of August.

As the waters continued to rise in the first half of August and even more rain fell, the rice fields that dominated the landscape were swamped, destroying the crop. Major cities such as Wuhan and Nanjing depended on this rice and, without it, people in the cities starved to death. In addition, typhoid and dysentery were rampant due to the polluted river. The millions who died from this flood perished from starvation and disease, many after the flood waters had receded.

Much of the disaster may have been averted if flood-control measures had been followed closely. The Yangtze carries large amounts of sediment, which accumulates in certain areas of the river and must be cleared regularly. However, with much of the area's resources devoted to civil war at the time, the river was neglected.
http://www.macaudailytimes.com.mo/thumbnail.php?file=images0-2011/08-August/yangzi.cruise2_126425166.jpg&size=article_medium


Aug 18, 1227:
Genghis Khan dies


Genghis Khan, the Mongol leader who forged an empire stretching from the east coast of China west to the Aral Sea, dies in camp during a campaign against the Chinese kingdom of Xi Xia. The great Khan, who was over 60 and in failing health, may have succumbed to injuries incurred during a fall from a horse in the previous year.

Genghis Khan was born as Temujin around 1162. His father, a minor Mongol chieftain, died when Temujin was in his early teens. Temujin succeeded him, but the tribe would not obey so young a chief. Temporarily abandoned, Temujin's family was left to fend for themselves in the wilderness of the Steppes.

By his late teens, Temujin had grown into a feared warrior and charismatic figure who began gathering followers and forging alliances with other Mongol leaders. After his wife was kidnapped by a rival tribe, Temujin organized a military force to defeat the tribe. Successful, he then turned against other clans and tribes and set out to unite the Mongols by force. Many warriors voluntarily came to his side, but those who did not were defeated and then offered the choice of obedience or death. The nobility of conquered tribes were generally executed. By 1206, Temujin was the leader of a great Mongol confederation and was granted the title Genghis Khan, translated as "Oceanic Ruler" or "Universal Ruler."

Khan promulgated a code of conduct and organized his armies on a system of 10: 10 men to a squad, 10 squads to a company, 10 companies to a regiment, and 10 regiments to a "Tumen," a fearful military unit made up of 10,000 cavalrymen. Because of their nomadic nature, the Mongols were able to breed far more horses than sedentary civilizations, which could not afford to sacrifice farmland for large breeding pastures. All of Khan's warriors were mounted, and half of any given army was made up of armored soldiers wielding swords and lances. Light cavalry archers filled most of the remaining ranks. Khan's family and other trusted clan members led these highly mobile armies, and by 1209 the Mongols were on the move against China.

Using an extensive network of spies and scouts, Khan detected a weakness in his enemies' defenses and then attacked the point with as many as 250,000 cavalrymen at once. When attacking large cities, the Mongols used sophisticated sieging equipment such as catapults and mangonels and even diverted rivers to flood out the enemy. Most armies and cities crumbled under the overwhelming show of force, and the massacres that followed a Mongol victory eliminated thoughts of further resistance. Those who survived--and millions did not--were granted religious freedom and protection within the rapidly growing Mongol empire. By 1227, Khan had conquered much of Central Asia and made incursions into Eastern Europe, Persia, and India. His great empire stretched from central Russia down to the Aral Sea in the west, and from northern China down to Beijing in the east.

On August 18, 1227, while putting down a revolt in the kingdom of Xi Xia, Genghis Khan died. On his deathbed, he ordered that Xi Xia be wiped from the face of the earth. Obedient as always, Khan's successors leveled whole cities and towns, killing or enslaving all their inhabitants. Obeying his order to keep his death secret, Genghis' heirs slaughtered anyone who set eyes on his funeral procession making its way back to Karakorum, the capital of the Mongol empire. Still bringing death as he had in life, many were killed before his corpse was buried in an unmarked grave. His final resting place remains a mystery.

The Mongol empire continued to grow after Genghis Khan's death, eventually encompassing most of inhabitable Eurasia. The empire disintegrated in the 14th century, but the rulers of many Asian states claimed descendant from Genghis Khan and his captains.
http://jorkat.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/genghis-khan.jpg?w=460


Aug 18, 1920:
Woman suffrage amendment ratified


The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote, is ratified by Tennessee, giving it the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it the law of the land. The amendment was the culmination of more than 70 years of struggle by woman suffragists. Its two sections read simply: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex" and "Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

America's woman suffrage movement was founded in the mid 19th century by women who had become politically active through their work in the abolitionist and temperance movements. In July 1848, 200 woman suffragists, organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, met in Seneca Falls, New York, to discuss women's rights. After approving measures asserting the right of women to educational and employment opportunities, they passed a resolution that declared "it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise." For proclaiming a woman's right to vote, the Seneca Falls Convention was subjected to public ridicule, and some backers of women's rights withdrew their support. However, the resolution marked the beginning of the woman suffrage movement in America.

The first national women's rights convention was held in 1850 and then repeated annually, providing an important focus for the growing woman suffrage movement. In the Reconstruction era, the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted, granting African American men the right to vote, but Congress declined to expand enfranchisement into the sphere of gender. In 1869, the National Woman Suffrage Association was founded by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to push for a woman suffrage amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Another organization, the American Woman Suffrage Association, led by Lucy Stone, was formed in the same year to work through the state legislatures. In 1890, these two groups were united as the National American Woman Suffrage Association. That year, Wyoming became the first state to grant women the right to vote.

By the beginning of the 20th century, the role of women in American society was changing drastically: Women were working more, receiving a better education, bearing fewer children, and three more states (Colorado, Utah, and Idaho) had yielded to the demand for female enfranchisement. In 1916, the National Woman's Party (formed in 1913 at the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage) decided to adopt a more radical approach to woman suffrage. Instead of questionnaires and lobbying, its members picketed the White House, marched, and staged acts of civil disobedience.

In 1917, America entered World War I, and women aided the war effort in various capacities, which helped to break down most of the remaining opposition to woman suffrage. By 1918, women had acquired equal suffrage with men in 15 states, and both the Democratic and Republican parties openly endorsed female enfranchisement.

In January 1918, the woman suffrage amendment passed the House of Representatives with the necessary two-thirds majority vote. In June 1919, it was approved by the Senate sent to the states for ratification. Campaigns were waged by suffragists around the country to secure ratification, and on August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment. On August 26, it was formally adopted into the Constitution by proclamation of Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby.
http://0.tqn.com/d/womenshistory/1/0/m/b/2/alice_paul_1920_ratification_banner_a.jpg


Aug 18, 1965:
Marines launch Operation Starlite


After a deserter from the First Vietcong Regiment had revealed that an attack was imminent against the U.S. base at Chu Lai, the Marines launch Operation Starlite in the Van Tuong peninsula in Quang Ngai Province.

In this, the first major U.S. ground battle of the Vietnam War, 5,500 Marines destroyed a Viet Cong stronghold, scoring a resounding victory. During the operation, which lasted six days, ground forces, artillery from Chu Lai, close air support, and naval gunfire combined to kill nearly 700 Vietcong soldiers. U.S. losses included 45 Marines dead and more than 200 wounded.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/00/OperationStarlight.jpg/300px-OperationStarlight.jpg

Duke of Buckingham
08-19-12, 07:25 AM
Aug 19, 1909:
First race is held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

On this day in 1909, the first race is held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, now the home of the world's most famous motor racing competition, the Indianapolis 500.

Built on 328 acres of farmland five miles northwest of Indianapolis, Indiana, the speedway was started by local businessmen as a testing facility for Indiana's growing automobile industry. The idea was that occasional races at the track would pit cars from different manufacturers against each other. After seeing what these cars could do, spectators would presumably head down to the showroom of their choice to get a closer look.

The rectangular two-and-a-half-mile track linked four turns, each exactly 440 yards from start to finish, by two long and two short straight sections. In that first five-mile race on August 19, 1909, 12,000 spectators watched Austrian engineer Louis Schwitzer win with an average speed of 57.4 miles per hour. The track's surface of crushed rock and tar proved a disaster, breaking up in a number of places and causing the deaths of two drivers, two mechanics and two spectators.

The surface was soon replaced with 3.2 million paving bricks, laid in a bed of sand and fixed with mortar. Dubbed "The Brickyard," the speedway reopened in December 1909. In 1911, low attendance led the track's owners to make a crucial decision: Instead of shorter races, they resolved to focus on a single, longer event each year, for a much larger prize. That May 30 marked the debut of the Indy 500--a grueling 500-mile race that was an immediate hit with audiences and drew press attention from all over the country. Driver Ray Haroun won the purse of $14,250, with an average speed of 74.59 mph and a total time of 6 hours and 42 minutes.

Since 1911, the Indianapolis 500 has been held every year, with the exception of 1917-18 and 1942-45, when the United States was involved in the two world wars. With an average crowd of 400,000, the Indy 500 is the best-attended event in U.S. sports. In 1936, asphalt was used for the first time to cover the rougher parts of the track, and by 1941 most of the track was paved. The last of the speedway's original bricks were covered in 1961, except for a three-foot line of bricks left exposed at the start-finish line as a nostalgic reminder of the track's history.
http://www.thecarolinascoop.com/autorace.jpg


Aug 19, 1909:
Louis Schwitzer wins first race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

In front of some 12,000 spectators, automotive engineer Louis Schwitzer wins the two-lap, five-mile inaugural race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana, on August 19, 1909.

Conceived by local businessmen as a testing facility for Indiana's growing automobile industry, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway would later become famous as the home to the now world-famous Indianapolis 500 race, which was first held in 1911. In that inaugural race, Schwitzer (then the chief engineer at Stoddard-Dayton) drove a stripped-down Stoddard Dayton touring car with a four-cylinder engine. He achieved an average speed of 57.4 mph on the new track, which was then covered in macadam, or crushed pieces of rock layered and bound by tar. Later, the speedway would be covered with 3.2 million paving bricks, which earned it its enduring nickname, "The Brickyard."

Born in Silesia in northwestern Austria in 1881, Schwitzer earned advanced degrees in electrical and mechanical engineering before immigrating to America around the turn of the century. His first job in the auto industry was with Pierce Arrow, as an engineer, working on one of the very first six-cylinder engines; he then began working for Canada Cycle and Motor Company, designing the Russell motor car. There, he met the prosperous automaker Howard Marmon (of the Marmon Motor Car Company), and would later earn lasting fame as the designer of the famous "Marmon Yellow Jacket" engine, which powered the vehicle of Ray Harroun, winner of the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911.

After leaving racing, Schwitzer remained active in the sport's development, joining the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Technical Committee in 1912 (he was its chairman from 1919 through 1945). He served in the United States Army Motor Transport Corps during World War I, then returned to Indianapolis to start his own business, which later became Schwitzer-Cummins. After developing improved automotive cooling systems and water pumps, Schwitzer began producing superchargers for gasoline and diesel engines, which helped both truck and boat engines produce increased horsepower. He then moved on to so-called "turbochargers," the first of which was introduced on a Cummins diesel-powered racing car which won the pole position for the 1952 Indianapolis 500.

In 1965, Schwitzer suffered a stroke while riding a horse on his farm. He was paralyzed, and for a time lost his ability to speak English, reverting to Hungarian. He died in 1967.

To honor Schwitzer's legacy, the Society of Professional Engineers now presents an individual or group involved with the Indianapolis 500 with the annual Louis Schwitzer Award for Engineering Excellence.
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Aug 19, 1991:
A Jewish youth is killed by a mob

Yankel Rosenbaum, a visiting student from Australia, is stabbed to death by an angry mob in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York. The crowd, consisting of young black men, had been intent on seeking revenge against Jewish people for the death of seven-year-old Gavin Cato, who had been struck by a car driven by a Hasidic Jew three hours earlier. Following Rosenbaum's murder, rioting continued against Jews for four days in Crown Heights, while many complained that the response by police and Mayor David Dinkins was inadequate.

In October, 16-year-old Lemrick Nelson was charged with the murder of Rosenbaum but was acquitted after a racially charged trial the following year. But the case did not end there. Due in part to lobbying by the victim's brother, Norman Rosenbaum, the federal government charged Nelson with violating Rosenbaum's civil rights in 1994. In the meantime, a state report criticized Mayor Dinkins and the police for their lack of action during the riots—a claim that helped Rudolph Giuliani defeat Dinkins in the next mayoral election.

In 1996, a videotape of the Crown Heights incident came to light, showing Charles Price inciting a mob to assault Jews in retaliation for Cato's death. He shouted, "Kill the Jews!" and, "An eye for an eye!" In February 1997, a jury convicted both Nelson and Price for their roles in Rosenbaum's murder. Nelson was sentenced to 19 years in prison, while Price received 21 years, despite his claim that he had been exercising his right to freedom of speech.

Later, Mayor Giuliani apologized and blamed his predecessor for the city's lack of action and offered a $1.1 million settlement from the City of New York to Jews who claimed they were unprotected during the riots. Norman Rosenbaum continued to push Attorney General Janet Reno to reopen the case and go after the others in the mob, but no further arrests were made.

The driver of the car that killed Gavin Cato was cleared of any wrongdoing, and he returned to Israel.
http://www.chabad.info/images/news/5589/558940.jpg


Aug 19, 1980:
Fire on Saudi jet kills 301

On this day in 1980, a fire aboard a plane bound for Saudi Arabia forces an emergency landing.

The Saudi Airlines flight began in Karachi, Pakistan, headed for Jidda, Saudi Arabia, with a stopover in Riyadh. The first leg of the flight was uneventful, and the Lockheed L-1011 took off from Riyadh with no problems. Shortly after takeoff from Riyadh, however, the pilot reported a fire onboard the plane and told air-traffic controllers that he needed immediate clearance to head back to the airport.

The fire started while passengers onboard were cooking with a portable butane stove. Apparently, this was not unusual, as Middle Eastern airlines are often willing to accommodate their Muslim passengers' needs to follow the strict dietary laws of their religion. The pilot was able to land the plane back at Riyadh safely and headed to the end of the runway where a rescue crew was waiting.

When the plane reached the end of the runway, however, it burst into flames. The crew sprayed fire-fighting foam at the fire, but it was no match for the intense blaze. None of the 301 people onboard escaped the fire. It is still unclear why there were no survivors. Bodies were found piled up near the escape hatches. One theory is that panic on the plane caused a stampede that prevented the hatches from being opened. Another possibility is that the crew failed to depressurize the cabin, which would have prevented the hatches from opening. It is also possible that everyone on the flight was overcome by fumes before they could save themselves.


Aug 19, 1964:
The Beatles kick off first U.S. tour at San Francisco's Cow Palace

The Beatles took America by storm during their famous first visit, wowing the millions who watched them during their historic television appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964. But after the first great rush of stateside Beatlemania, the Beatles promptly returned to Europe, leaving their American fans to make do with mere records. By late summer of that same year, however, having put on an unprecedented and still unmatched display of pop-chart dominance during their absence, the Beatles finally returned. On August 19, 1964, more than six months after taking the East Coast by storm, the Fab Four traveled to California to take the stage at the Cow Palace in San Francisco for opening night of their first-ever concert tour of North America.

Although in retrospect it would seem a laughable underestimation of their drawing power in America, Beatles' manager Brian Epstein chose venues like the 17,000-seat Cow Palace for the 1964 tour expressly because he feared that the Beatles might not sell out large sports stadiums like San Francisco's Candlestick Park, where they would play their final official concert in 1966. Suffice it to say that the Beatles had no difficultly filling the Cow Palace, which was packed with 17,130 screaming fans when the group bounded to the stage shortly after 9:00 p.m. on this day in 1964 and launched into "Twist And Shout."

The Beatles' set that night and throughout the tour that followed featured only 12 songs, most often in this order:

"Twist and Shout"
"You Can't Do That"
"All My Loving"
"She Loves You"
"Things We Said Today"
"Roll Over Beethoven"
"Can't Buy Me Love"
"If I Fell"
"I Want to Hold Your Hand"
"Boys"
"A Hard Day's Night"
"Long Tall Sally"

At other stops on the tour, the Beatles' performances would last approximately 33 minutes, but the show that night in San Francisco lasted some five minutes longer—not because of any difference in the Beatles' performance, but because of police intervention to stem the growing pandemonium. Within the first few seconds of the first song that night, at least one radio journalist traveling with the Beatles had been trampled to the ground along with a young female fan who broke a leg in the melee. And thanks to an offhand comment by George Harrison about the group's favorite candy in the days leading up to the show, the Beatles themselves were pelted with flying jelly beans throughout that night's set. Though John, Paul, George and Ringo were uninjured, they left the Cow Palace that night by ambulance after their limousine was swarmed by berserk fans. It was a scene that would become familiar to them as they continued on their first historic tour of America in the months ahead.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43FlYypxTYI

Duke of Buckingham
08-20-12, 04:37 PM
Aug 20, 1911:
First around-the-world telegram sent, 66 years before Voyager II launch


On this day in 1911, a dispatcher in the New York Times office sends the first telegram around the world via commercial service. Exactly 66 years later, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) sends a different kind of message--a phonograph record containing information about Earth for extraterrestrial beings--shooting into space aboard the unmanned spacecraft Voyager II.

The Times decided to send its 1911 telegram in order to determine how fast a commercial message could be sent around the world by telegraph cable. The message, reading simply "This message sent around the world," left the dispatch room on the 17th floor of the Times building in New York at 7 p.m. on August 20. After it traveled more than 28,000 miles, being relayed by 16 different operators, through San Francisco, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Saigon, Singapore, Bombay, Malta, Lisbon and the Azores--among other locations--the reply was received by the same operator 16.5 minutes later. It was the fastest time achieved by a commercial cablegram since the opening of the Pacific cable in 1900 by the Commercial Cable Company.

On August 20, 1977, a NASA rocket launched Voyager II, an unmanned 1,820-pound spacecraft, from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It was the first of two such crafts to be launched that year on a "Grand Tour" of the outer planets, organized to coincide with a rare alignment of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Aboard Voyager II was a 12-inch copper phonograph record called "Sounds of Earth." Intended as a kind of introductory time capsule, the record included greetings in 60 languages and scientific information about Earth and the human race, along with classical, jazz and rock 'n' roll music, nature sounds like thunder and surf, and recorded messages from President Jimmy Carter and other world leaders.

The brainchild of astronomer Carl Sagan, the record was sent with Voyager II and its twin craft, Voyager I--launched just two weeks later--in the faint hope that it might one day be discovered by extraterrestrial creatures. The record was sealed in an aluminum jacket that would keep it intact for 1 billion years, along with instructions on how to play the record, with a cartridge and needle provided.

More importantly, the two Voyager crafts were designed to explore the outer solar system and send information and photographs of the distant planets to Earth. Over the next 12 years, the mission proved a smashing success. After both crafts flew by Jupiter and Saturn, Voyager I went flying off towards the solar system's edge while Voyager II visited Uranus, Neptune and finally Pluto in 1990 before sailing off to join its twin in the outer solar system.

Thanks to the Voyager program, NASA scientists gained a wealth of information about the outer planets, including close-up photographs of Saturn's seven rings; evidence of active geysers and volcanoes exploding on some of the four planets' 22 moons; winds of more than 1,500 mph on Neptune; and measurements of the magnetic fields on Uranus and Neptune. The two crafts are expected to continue sending data until 2020, or until their plutonium-based power sources run out. After that, they will continue to sail on through the galaxy for millions of years to come, barring some unexpected collision.
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Aug 20, 1968:
Soviet Union intervenes in Czechoslovakia


In the face of rising anti-Soviet protests in Czechoslovakia, Soviet troops (backed by troops from other Warsaw Pact nations) intervene to crush the protest and restore order. The brutal Soviet action shocked the West and dealt a devastating blow to U.S.-Soviet relations.

The troubles in Czechoslovakia began when Alexander Dubcek took over as secretary general of the nation's Communist Party in January 1968. It was immediately apparent that Dubcek wanted a major overhaul of Czechoslovakia's political and economic system—he called his particular ideology "Socialism with a human face." He called for greater political freedom, including more participation by noncommunist parties. Dubcek also pressed for economic policies that would ensure less state con