History Archives

June 5, 2008

Free Access to Civil War Database Through June

0806CivilWar.jpgAlexander Street Press is offering free access to their online Civil War collection for all of June. It includes a comprehensive index of 4.3 million soldiers and thousands of battles, as well as databases for letters and diaries, newspapers and magazines, and photographs, posters, and ephemera.
As always, several government agencies, most notably the Library of Congress, have online Civil War archives that are always free.

The American Civil War Online [Alexander Street Press]
US Civil War: Selected Resources including Photographs and Maps [Library of Congress]
Civil War, forging a more perfect union [National Park Service]

"Antietam, Md. Battlefield on the day of the battle" from the Library of Congress' Selected Civil War Photographs collection

May 9, 2008

This Day In History: May 9

Friday, May 9, 2008

Today is the 130th day of 2008 and the 51st day of spring.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1950, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman presented his proposal for European integration, called the "Schuman Declaration." In 1961, Newton Minow, newly appointed chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, gave a speech to broadcasters in which he described network TV as a "vast wasteland." In 1974, the U.S. House of Representatives opened impeachment hearings against President Richard Nixon. In 2001, during a soccer game in Ghana, 126 people died in a stampede caused by an encounter between fans and police.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: J.M. Barrie (1860-1937), playwright; Howard Carter (1874-1939), archaeologist; Mike Wallace (1918- ), journalist, is 90; Candice Bergen (1946- ), actress, is 62; Billy Joel (1949- ), musician, is 59; Tony Gwynn (1960- ), baseball player, is 48; Rosario Dawson (1979- ), actress, is 29.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1984, the White Sox finally won a 25-inning game that had been suspended from the day before. It was the longest timed game in Major League Baseball history, at 8 hours and 6 minutes.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Ambition--it is the last infirmity of noble minds." J.M. Barrie [or "I'm not young enough to know everything." JM Barrie from The Admirable Crichton]

TODAY'S FACT: Mike Wallace has been a mainstay of the TV news program 60 Minutes since its start in 1968. He announced his retirement in March 2006 but has continued work on the show as a "Correspondent Emeritus."

TODAY'S NUMBER: 27 - number of member-nations in the European Union, a descendant of the Schuman Declaration; Bulgaria and Romania joined in 2007.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (May 5) and first quarter (May 11).

May 8, 2008

This Day In History: May 8

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Today is the 129th day of 2008 and the 50th day of spring.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1886, prohibition in Atlanta, GA spurred the sale of the first "Coca-Cola" soft drink. In 1945, the Allies celebrated World War II V-E (Victory in Europe) day. In 1973, a 10-week standoff in Wounded Knee, SD, between federal authorities and American Indian Movement activists ended. In 1999, The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, graduated its first female student.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Harry S. Truman (1884-1972), U.S. president; Don Rickles (1926- ), comedian/actor, is 82; Sonny Liston (1932-1970), boxer; Thomas Pynchon (1937- ), novelist, is 71; Keith Jarrette (1945- ), jazz musician, is 63; Enrique Iglesias (1975- ), singer, is 33.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1984, the Soviet Union announced that it would boycott that year's Los Angeles Summer Olympics.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it." - Harry S. Truman

TODAY'S FACT: The U.S. captured 173 medals--including a record 83 gold medals--at the Soviet-boycotted 1984 Summer Olympics.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 14 - women in The Citadel's 2007 graduating class, out of 436 cadets.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (May 5) and first quarter (May 11).

May 7, 2008

This Day In History: May 7

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Today is the 128th day of 2008 and the 49th day of spring.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1915, during World War I, a German U-Boat sunk the RMS Lusitania, killing 1,198. In 1945, Germany unconditionally surrendered and withdrew from World War II. In 2000, Vladimir Putin assumed the presidency in Russia's first democratic change of office.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), composer; Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893), composer; Gary Cooper (1901-1961), actor; Eva Peron (1919-1952), Argentine first lady/actress; Johnny Unitas (1933-2002), football player; Tim Russert (1950- ), journalist, is 58; Breckin Meyer (1974- ), actor, is 34.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1925, Glenn Wright of the Pittsburgh Pirates became the fourth player in history to turn an unassisted triple play.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "In Westerns you were permitted to kiss your horse but never your girl." - Gary Cooper

TODAY'S FACT: After being cut from the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1955, Johnny Unitas played a year of semi-pro ball with the Bloomfield Rams, and was paid $6 a game plus daily trolley fare.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 7 - number of symphonies composed by Tchaikovsky.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (May 5) and first quarter (May 11).

April 30, 2008

This Day In History: April 30

Today is the 121st day of 2008 and the 42nd day of spring.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1789, George Washington was inaugurated as the first president of the United States. In 1803, representatives of the United States and France concluded negotiations for the Louisiana Purchase. In 1945, Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide as Allied troops approached his bunker in Berlin, Germany. In 2003, Mahmoud Abbas took office as the first Palestinian Prime Minister.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Eve Arden (1908-1990), actress; Sheldon Harnick (1924- ), lyricist, is 84; Cloris Leachman (1926- ), actress, is 82; Willie Nelson (1933- ), singer, is 75; Isiah Thomas (1961- ), basketball player, is 47; Kirsten Dunst (1982- ), actress, is 26.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1993, a deranged fan ran stabbed tennis star Monica Seles at a tournament match in Hamburg, Germany.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of my country called me, [is] sufficient to awaken in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens a distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications..." - George Washington, in his inaugural address

TODAY'S FACT: Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun married on April 29, 1945, one day before their joint suicide.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 827,192 - number of square miles that the U.S. took possession of in the Louisiana Purchase, at a cost of less than three cents per acre.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (April 28) and new moon (May 5).

April 29, 2008

This Day In History: April 29

Today is the 120th day of 2008 and the 41st day of spring.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1429, Joan of Arc lifted the siege of Orleans, France. In 1992, riots broke out in Los Angeles after four police officers were acquitted of beating Rodney King. In 2004, President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney met with the September 11 Commission in closed hearings.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Thomas Beecham (1879-1961), orchestra conductor; Duke Ellington (1899-1974), jazz musician; Jerry Seinfeld (1955- ), comedian, is 53; Daniel Day-Lewis (1957- ), actor, is 51; Michelle Pfeiffer (1958- ), actress, is 50; Andre Agassi (1970- ), tennis player, is 38.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1986, Boston Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens became the first to strike out 20 batters in a nine-inning game, a feat he repeated in 1996.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The thing about performance, even if it's only an illusion, is that it is a celebration of the fact that we do contain within ourselves infinite possibilities." - Daniel Day-Lewis

TODAY'S FACT: Duke Ellington's father worked as a butler at a number of homes in Washington, DC, including the White House.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 19 - age of Joan of Arc at the time of her death.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (April 28) and new moon (May 5).

April 28, 2008

This Day In History: April 28

Today is the 119th day of 2008 and the 40th day of spring.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1789, a mutiny broke out on the British trade ship Bounty. In 1945, Italian partisans executed dictator Benito Mussolini. In 2004, the first Abu Ghraib prison abuse photos were shown on CBS's 60 Minutes II.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: James Monroe (1758-1831), U.S. president; Lionel Barrymore (1878-1954), actor; Oskar Schindler (1908-1974), businessman; Harper Lee (1926- ), author, is 82; Ann-Margret (1941- ), singer/actress, is 67; Jay Leno (1950- ), TV personality, is 58; Penelope Cruz, (1974- ), actress, is 34.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1967, heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali refused to be inducted into the U.S. Army.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "A little flattery will support a man through great fatigue." - James Monroe

TODAY'S FACT: After the 1789 mutiny on the Bounty, the captain and 18 crewmembers were cast out on a 23-foot launch boat in which they safely traveled an astounding 3,618 miles to Timor.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 40 - The number of languages in which Harper Lee's classic To Kill A Mockingbird is available.

TODAY'S MOON: Last quarter (April 28).

April 23, 2008

This Day In History: April 23

Today is the 114th day of 2008 and the 35th day of spring.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1908, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt created the U.S. Army Reserve. In 1985, Coca-Cola introduced "New Coke," a product that fizzled with consumers quickly. In 2004, President George W. Bush eased economic sanctions against Libya--in place since the Reagan administration--in response to Libya's giving up its weapons of mass destruction program.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: William Shakespeare (1564-1616), playwright; Max Planck (1858-1947), physicist; Vladimir Nabokov, novelist, (1899-1977); Shirley Temple Black (1928- ), actress/diplomat, is 80; Lee Majors (1940- ), actor, is 68; Sandra Dee (1942-2005), actress; Michael Moore (1954- ), filmmaker, is 54; Andruw Jones (1977- ), baseball player, is 31.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1999, St. Louis Cardinal Fernando Tatis became the first baseball player to hit two grand slam home runs in one inning.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts." - William Shakespeare, As You Like It

TODAY'S FACT: Novelist Vladimir Nabokov was also known internationally as a lepidopterist (a scientist who studies moths and butterflies).

TODAY'S NUMBER: 77 - days that New Coke was on the market before Coca-Cola pulled it from shelves and replaced it with the soft drink's original formula, under the name Classic Coke.

TODAY'S MOON: Between full moon (April 20) and last quarter (April 28).

April 22, 2008

This Day In History: April 22

Today is the 113th day of 2008 and the 34th day of spring.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1500, Pedro Cabral became the first European to see modern-day Brazil. In 1889, Oklahoma was opened to settlers, who swarmed the state in a great land rush. In 1954, the first of the U.S. Senate's Army-McCarthy hearings were broadcast. In 1993, the U.S. Holocaust Museum was dedicated in Washington, DC. In 2000, immigration agents seized Elian Gonzalez from his relatives' house in Miami in order to return him to his father in Cuba.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Henry Fielding (1707-54), novelist; Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), philosopher; Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1870-1924), Soviet leader; J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904-67), physicist; Charles Mingus (1922-79), jazz musician; Jack Nicholson (1936- ), actor, is 72; John Waters (1946- ), filmmaker, is 62; Peter Frampton (1950- ), rock musician, is 58.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1914, Babe Ruth, then a Baltimore pitcher, appeared in his first professional baseball game, shutting out Providence, 6-0.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "All our knowledge begins with the sense, proceeds then to understanding, and ends with reason. " - Immanuel Kant

TODAY'S FACT: The Army-McCarthy hearings were the first nationally televised congressional inquiry.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 69,898 - area (in square miles) of the state of Oklahoma.

TODAY'S MOON: Between full moon (April 20) and last quarter (April 28).

April 21, 2008

This Day In History: April 21

Today is the 112th day of 2008 and the 33rd day of spring.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1836, Texas forces under Sam Houston defeated Mexicans at the Battle of San Jacinto. In 1918, Germany's "Red Baron," fighter ace Baron Manfred von Richtofen, was shot down and killed. In 1960, the new city of Brasilia officially became Brazil's capital. In 1992, murderer Robert Alton Harris became the first person executed by the state of California in 25 years.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Charlotte Bronte (1816-55), novelist/poet; John Muir (1838-1914), naturalist/environmentalist; Anthony Quinn (1915-2001), actor; Elizabeth II (1926- ), British monarch, is 82; Elaine May (1932- ), actress/writer, is 76; Patti LuPone (1949- ), actress/singer, is 59; Tony Danza (1951- ), actor, is 57; James McAvoy (1979- ), actor, is 29.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1974, Lee Elder became the first African American to be invited to the PGA Masters Tournament.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The upward course of a nation's history is due in the long run to the soundness of heart of its average men and women." - Queen Elizabeth II

TODAY'S FACT: Brasilia was put on the UN's World Heritage List in 1987 in recognition of its innovative urban planning and design.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 54 - number of years Queen Elizabeth II has ruled Great Britain, ten less than Queen Victoria, Britain's longest-ruling monarch.

TODAY'S MOON: Between full moon (April 20) and last quarter (April 28).

April 18, 2008

This Day In History: April 18

Today is the 109th day of 2008 and the 30th day of spring.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1775, Paul Revere began his famous ride, warning, "The British are coming!" In 1906, the great San Francisco earthquake struck. In 1942, U.S. planes, led by Gen. James Doolittle, bombed Tokyo and other Japanese cities. In 2002, Exiled Afghan King Mohammad Zahir Shah returned to Afghanistan.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Franz von Suppé (1819-95), composer; Clarence Darrow (1857-1938), lawyer; Wendy Barrie (1912-78), actress; Joseph Goldstein (1940- ), geneticist, is 68; Hayley Mills (1946- ), actress, is 62; James Woods (1947- ), actor, is 61; Conan O'Brien (1963- ), TV personality, is 45; America Ferrera (1984- ), actress, is 24.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1923, Yankee Stadium, known as the "House That Ruth Built," opened in the Bronx with a crowd of 74,200 people. Babe Ruth hit the stadium's first home run in the third inning.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man's freedom. You can only be free if I am free." - Clarence Darrow

TODAY'S FACT: Paul Revere did not complete his ride from Boston to Concord; one of the two men who accompanied him reached Concord to deliver the message after Revere was detained by scouts.

TODAY'S NUMBER: $400,000,000 - estimated property damage (in 1906 dollars) as a result of the San Francisco earthquake and fire.

TODAY'S MOON: Between first quarter (April 12) and full moon (April 20).

April 17, 2008

This Day In History: April 17

Today is the 108th day of 2008 and the 29th day of spring.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1524, Italian navigator Giovanni da Verrazano, sailing for France, led the first European expedition into New York Harbor. In 1861, Virginia became the eighth state to secede from the Union. In 1961, a group of CIA-trained Cuban exiles launched an unsuccessful invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. In 1993, a Los Angeles jury convicted two police officers of violating the civil rights of assaulted motorist Rodney King.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Nikita Khrushchev (1894-1971), Soviet political leader; Senor Wences (1896-1999), ventriloquist; Thornton Wilder, playwright/novelist (1897-1975); William Holden (1918-81), actor; Boomer Esiason (1961- ), football player/broadcaster, is 47; Jennifer Garner (1972- ), actress, is 36.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1953, 21-year-old Mickey Mantle hit a 565-foot homer over the wall of Griffith Stadium in Washington, the first "tape-measure" home run in baseball history.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Hope, like faith, is nothing if it is not courageous; it is nothing if it is not ridiculous." - Thornton Wilder

TODAY'S FACT: More Civil War battles were fought in Virginia than any other state.

TODAY'S NUMBER: -272 - temperature, in degrees Celsius, of the Boomerang Nebula, the coldest known place in the universe.

TODAY'S MOON: Between first quarter (April 12) and full moon (April 20)

April 16, 2008

This Day In History: April 16

Today is the 107th day of 2008 and the 28th day of spring.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1777, American forces defeated the British at the Battle of Bennington in Vermont. In 1917, Vladimir I. Lenin returned to Russia in a sealed train after years in exile. In 1947, the French vessel Grandcamp blew up in the harbor of Texas City, TX, killing at least 500 people. In 2007, a senior at Virginia Tech shot 27 students and 5 faculty members to death on the campus in Blacksburg, VA.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Anatole France (1844-1924), writer; Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977), actor/director/composer; Peter Ustinov (1921-2004), actor; Pope Benedict XVI (1927- ), Roman Catholic leader, is 81; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1947- ), basketball player, is 61; Bill Belichick (1952- ), football coach, is 56; Ellen Barkin (1955- ), actress, is 53; Peter Billingsley (1971- ), actor, is 37.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1999, Wayne Gretzky announced his retirement from professional hockey.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe." - Anatole France

TODAY'S FACT: Charlie Chaplin refused to use dialogue in his movies until The Great Dictator in 1940, 13 years after the first "talkie."

TODAY'S NUMBER: 20 - number of professional seasons Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played in the NBA before announcing his retirement.

TODAY'S MOON: Between first quarter (April 12) and full moon (April 20).

April 15, 2008

This Day In History: April 15

Today is the 106th day of 2008 and the 27th day of spring.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1912, the Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg. In 1924, Rand McNally published its first road atlas. In 1959, the new Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, visited the United States. In 1999, astronomers announced the discovery of another solar system--the first aside from our own--in the constellation Andromeda.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), artist/scientist; Henry James (1843-1916), novelist; A. Philip Randolph (1889-1979), activist; Bessie Smith (1894-1937), blues singer; Emma Thompson (1959- ), actress, is 49; Emma Watson (1990- ), actress, is 18.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1942, Hiram Bithorn became the first Puerto Rican to play Major League Baseball as a pitcher for the Chicago Cubs.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "It does not matter how small you are if you have faith and plan of action." - Fidel Castro

TODAY'S FACT: Titanic is the highest-grossing American movie of all time, having made more than $600 million at the box office.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 24 - number of hours after Germany's 1939 invasion of Poland that U.S. stores were completely sold out of Rand McNally maps of Europe.

TODAY'S MOON: Between first quarter (April 12) and full moon (April 20).

April 14, 2008

This Day In History: April 14

Today is the 105th day of 2008 and the 26th day of spring.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1865, John Wilkes Booth shot and fatally wounded President Abraham Lincoln. In 1939, John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath was published. In 1986, the U.S. launched air strikes against Libya. In 2002, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez regained power after a military coup overthrew him two days earlier.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Anne Sullivan Macy (1866-1936), educator; John Gielgud (1904-2000), actor; Rod Steiger (1925-2002), actor; Loretta Lynn (1935- ), singer, is 73; Julie Christie (1940- ), actress, is 68; Pete Rose (1941- ), baseball player, is 67; Greg Maddux (1966- ), baseball player, is 42; Adrien Brody (1973- ), actor, is 35; Abigail Breslin (1996- ), actress, is 12.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 2003, Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche became the first NHL goalie to win 150 playoff games.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Doctors tell me I have the body of a thirty year old. I know I have the brain of a fifteen year old. If you've got both, you can play baseball." - Pete Rose

TODAY'S FACT: The lowest point on earth is called Challenger Deep, located at the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean—nearly 11,000 meters (36,000 feet) below sea level.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 7:22 a.m. - time of Abraham Lincoln's death, the day after he was shot.

TODAY'S MOON: Between first quarter (April 12) and full moon (April 20).

April 10, 2008

This Day In History: April 10

Today is the 101st day of 2008 and the 22nd day of spring.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1933, the U.S. government created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to put unemployed young men to work. In 1938, Nazi Germany annexed Austria. In 1972, famed film comedian and director Charlie Chaplin received an honorary Oscar. In 2003, Congress approved the Amber Alert system, which alerts the public to child abductions.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: William Hazlitt (1778-1830), writer; Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911), publisher; Max von Sydow (1929- ), actor, is 79; Omar Sharif (1932- ), actor, is 76; John Madden (1936- ), football coach/broadcaster, is 72; Steven Seagal (1951- ), actor, is 57; Haley Joel Osment (1988- ), actor, is 20.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1947, the Brooklyn Dodgers announced the purchase of Jackie Robinson's contract from the Montreal Royals.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself." - Joseph Pulitzer

TODAY'S FACT: Residents of the small European country of Andorra enjoy the longest life expectancy in the world, at an average of 83.5 years.

TODAY'S NUMBER: .349 - Jackie Robinson's batting average in his last year with the Montreal Royals.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (April 5) and first quarter (April 12).

April 9, 2008

This Day In History: April 9

Today is the 100th day of 2008 and the 21st day of spring.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House. In 1940, Germany invaded Norway and Denmark. In 2003, Iraqis celebrating the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime tore down and beheaded the Hussein statue in downtown Baghdad.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Charles Baudelaire (1821-67), poet; Paul Robeson (1898-1976), athlete/actor/singer; Hugh Hefner (1926- ), publisher, is 82; Jean-Paul Belmondo (1933- ), actor, is 75; Dennis Quaid (1954- ), actor, is 54; Cynthia Nixon (1966- ), actress, is 42.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1965, the Houston Astros defeated the NY Yankees 2-1 in an exposition game--the first professional baseball game ever played indoors--at the Astrodome.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Everything considered, work is less boring than amusing oneself." - Charles Baudelaire

TODAY'S FACT: The Astrodome originally had a natural grass field; 'Astroturf' was installed only after the grass died due to a new coat of paint on the ceiling aimed at making pop flies more visible.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 15 - number of varsity letters that Paul Robeson received at Rutgers University for playing baseball, football, basketball, and track.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (April 5) and first quarter (April 12).

April 8, 2008

This Day In History: April 8

Today is the 99th day of 2008 and the 20th day of spring.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1513, explorer Juan Ponce de Leon declared Florida a territory of Spain. In 1935, Congress approved legislation creating the Works Progress Administration (WPA). In 2005, Pope John Paul II was buried at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Harvey Cushing (1869-1939), surgeon; Mary Pickford (1893-1979), actress; Sonja Henie (1912-69), ice skater; Betty Ford (1918- ), former first lady, is 90; Shecky Greene (1926- ), comedian, is 82; Kofi Annan (1938- ), former UN Secretary General, is 70; Robin Wright Penn (1966- ), actress, is 42.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1974, Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run, breaking Babe Ruth's record for career home runs.

TODAY'S QUOTE: Make them laugh, make them cry, and back to laughter. What do people go to the theatre for? An emotional exercise." - Mary Pickford

TODAY'S FACT: Florida did not become a U.S. possession until Spain surrendered it in a treaty in 1819.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 10 - number of languages used at least once during Pope John Paul II's funeral mass.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (April 5) and first quarter (April 12).

April 7, 2008

This Day In History: April 7

Today is the 98th day of 2008 and the 19th day of spring.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1712, a slave rebellion broke out in New York City. In 1862, Union forces under Ulysses S. Grant defeated the Confederates at the battle of Shiloh. In 1994, a civil war ignited in Rwanda; millions were displaced and hundreds of thousands were killed in the next several months.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: William Wordsworth (1770-1850), poet; Billie Holiday (1915-59), jazz singer; Francis Ford Coppola (1939- ), filmmaker, is 69; Jackie Chan (1954- ), actor, is 54; Russell Crowe (1964- ), actor, is 44; Tiki Barber (1975), football player, is 33.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1963, at age 23, golfer Jack Nicklaus won the first of his six Masters titles.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The eye--it cannot choose but see; we cannot bid the ear be still; our bodies feel, where'er they be, against or with our will." - William Wordsworth

TODAY'S FACT: Of the 16 million American adults who used online dating sites in 2006, 17% reported to have entered into long-term relationships with fellow online daters.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 800,000 - estimated number of Rwandans killed during the first 100 days of the 1994 genocide.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (April 5) and first quarter (April 12).

April 2, 2008

This Day In History: April 2

Today is the 93rd day of 2008 and the 14th day of spring.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1865, Jefferson Davis fled Richmond as Union forces closed in on the Confederate capital. In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany. In 1982, Argentina invaded the British-held Falkland Islands. In 1992, Mafia boss John Gotti was found guilty of murder, racketeering, and other charges by a New York jury.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Hans Christian Andersen (1805-75), writer; Emile Zola (1840-1902), novelist; Max Ernst (1891-1976), artist; Buddy Ebsen (1908-2003), actor; Emmylou Harris (1947- ), singer, is 61; Christopher Meloni (1961- ), actor, is 47.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1931, Jackie Mitchell, a 17-year old female pitcher for the Chattanooga Lookouts, struck out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in an exhibition match against the Yankees.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale." - Hans Christian Anderson

TODAY'S FACT: Max Ernst created a new painting technique called frottage in which an object is covered with blank paper and rubbed with black chalk, creating a surreal image.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 3,105 - number of people who lived in the Falkland Islands in 2007.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (March 29) and new moon (April 5).

April 1, 2008

This Day In History: April 1

Today is the 92nd day of 2008 and the 13th day of spring.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1945, U.S. troops landed on the Japanese island of Okinawa. In 1960, TIROS-1, the first weather satellite, was launched from Cape Canaveral. In 1987, Pres. Reagan gave his first speech on the AIDS epidemic, declaring the disease "public health enemy number one." In 1999, Nunavut officially separated from the Northwest Territories in Canada. In 2001, ex-Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic was arrested and jailed on corruption charges, after a 36-hour standoff with police.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Otto von Bismarck (1815-98), German political leader; Edmond Rostand (1868-1918), playwright; Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943), composer; Milan Kundera (1929- ), writer, is 79; Debbie Reynolds (1932- ), actress, is 76; Ali McGraw (1938- ), actress, is 70; Samuel Alito (1950- ), Supreme Court justice, is 58.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1973, veteran Boston Celtic John Havlicek scored a career-high 54 points against the Atlanta Hawks, setting a Celtic playoff record.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Laws are like sausages. It's better not to see them being made." - Otto von Bismarck

TODAY'S FACT: In late 2007, the UN estimated there were 33.2 million people living with AIDS.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 19,389 - number of pictures TIROS-1 sent back to Earth during its 77 days in orbit.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (March 29) and new moon (April 5).

March 31, 2008

This Day In History: March 31

Today is the 91st day of 2008 and the 12th day of spring.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1889, the Eiffel Tower was completed. In 1930, the Motion Pictures Production Code, or Hays Code, was adopted to regulate the moral values of movies. In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson announced he would not run for reelection. In 2005, Terri Schiavo died 13 days after her feeding tube was removed after a prolonged legal battle.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Rene Descartes (1596-1650), philosopher/mathematician; Joseph Haydn (1732-1809), composer; Cesar Chavez (1927-93), labor leader; Herb Alpert (1935- ), musician, is 73; Al Gore (1948- ), former U.S. vice president/senator, is 60; Ewan McGregor (1971- ), actor, is 37.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1992, the Cubs acquired 23-year-old outfielder Sammy Sosa, who would go on to become their All-Star right-fielder.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "We Americans write our own history. And the chapters of which we're proudest are the ones where we had the courage to change." - Al Gore

TODAY'S FACT: Gustav Eiffel built metal structures all over the world, but he also designed railway bridges and the interior structure of New York's Statue of Liberty.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 1,063 - height, in feet, of the Eiffel Tower (including the flagpole).

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (March 29) and new moon (April 5).

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

0803TakeMeOut.jpgThis year is the centennial of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" the unofficial anthem of baseball composed by Albert Von Tilzer and written by Jack Norworth. Songs about baseball weren't new in 1908. "The Baseball Polka" had already been around for 50 years according to the Library of Congress Music Division. Yet "Take Me Out..." is probably the only piece of Tin Pan Alley music that most Americans can instantly recall. It's surely more memorable than "Take Me Out for a Tank Ride."

As Major League Baseball starts its 2008 season this week there will be many mentions of the song. Mainly, the league is hosting "in-park searches for the most talented performers of the unofficial anthem of baseball fans everywhere." (Enter online: here). There will also be many news articles about Katie Casey and the song's verses, as well as its conflicted history due to the new book Baseball's Greatest Hit: The Story of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game".

To get you in the spirit,, an online collection of early recorded sound, has a 1908 rendition of "Take Me Out..." performed by Edward Meeker.

The Library of Congress also has sheet music and other useful information on the song as well as many other baseball songs in their Performing Arts department:

Online Collection of Baseball Sheet Music including "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"
Bibliography of Published Baseball Music and Songs

March 27, 2008

This Day In History: March 27

Today is the 87th day of 2008 and the 8th day of spring.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1794, the United States Navy was formed. In 1964, the largest U.S. earthquake, at a magnitude of 9.2, struck Alaska. In 2002, President Bush signed a sweeping campaign finance reform bill into law.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Wilhelm Roentgen (1845-1923), scientist/inventor; Gloria Swanson (1899-1983), actress; Sarah Vaughan (1924-90), singer; Quentin Tarantino (1963- ), filmmaker, is 45; Mariah Carey (1970- ), singer, is 38.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1902, a Chicago Daily News reporter first dubbed the Chicago National League baseball team the Cubs.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear." - George Orwell

TODAY'S FACT: Wilhelm Roentgen, the Nobel prize winning discoverer of X-rays, took his first medical x-ray of his wife's hand.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 9.5 - magnitude of the largest recorded earthquake, which struck off the coast of Chile on May 22, 1960.

TODAY'S MOON: Between full moon (March 21) and last quarter (March 29).

March 26, 2008

This Day In History: March 26

Today is the 86th day of 2008 and the 7th day of spring.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1979, Menachem Begin and Anwar al-Sadat signed the Egypt-Israel peace treaty in Washington, DC. In 1997, the bodies of 39 Heaven's Gate cult members were found in California. In 1999, Dr. Jack Kevorkian was found guilty of second-degree murder for euthanizing a terminally ill patient.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Robert Frost (1874-1963), poet; Tennessee Williams (1911-83), playwright; Viktor Frankl, (1905-97), psychotherapist/author; Sandra Day O'Connor (1930- ), former U.S. Supreme Court justice, is 78; Diana Ross (1944- ), singer, is 64; Steven Tyler (1948- ), musician, is 60; John Stockton (1962- ), basketball player, is 46; Keira Knightley (1985- ), actress, is 23.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1973, Bill Walton led UCLA's basketball team to its 75th straight win and seventh straight NCAA title.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "I talk in order to understand; I teach in order to learn." - Robert Frost

TODAY'S FACT: Oregon is the only state in the U.S. with a law permitting physician-assisted suicide in some cases; the law survived an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 130 - estimated number of suicides that Dr. Jack Kevorkian assisted before his arrest in 1999.

TODAY'S MOON: Between full moon (March 21) and last quarter (March 29).

March 25, 2008

This Day In History: March 25

Today is the 85th day of 2008 and the 6th day of spring.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1634, some 200 English settlers landed at the Maryland colony. In 1894, Coxey's Army, the first notable American protest march, departed Ohio in a revolt against staggering unemployment caused by the economic panic of 1893. In 1965, a civil rights march led by Martin Luther King Jr. ended in Montgomery, Alabama. In 1994, the U.S. withdrew its last troops from Somalia.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Bela Bartok (1881-1945), composer; Howard Cosell (1918-94), broadcaster; Jim Lovell (1928- ), astronaut, is 80; Aretha Franklin (1942- ), singer, is 66; Elton John (1947- ), musician, is 61; Sarah Jessica Parker (1965- ), actress, is 43.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1958, Sugar Ray Robinson defeated Carmen Basilio to regain the middleweight title for an unprecedented fifth time.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Sports is the toy department of human life." - Howard Cosell

TODAY'S FACT: Women over age 55 watch more television than any other age group in the U.S.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 38.3 million - number of Americans that identified themselves as black in 2006.

TODAY'S MOON: Between full moon (March 21) and last quarter (March 29).

Sports Illustrated Free Online Archive

0803Sports Illustrated.jpgI'm slightly embarrassed that I didn't catch this earlier. Sports Illustrated has opened up their entire back catalogue, or "vault," for free; more than 50 years of covers, articles, photos, and videos. The articles are available as searchable html or bundled up by the issue. The full issues, ad placement and all, are presented in a page-flipping online reader.

Sports Illustrated Vault

To get you started, here are some articles relating to some of the "Memorable Moments in Sports" from The World Almanac 2008:
Secretariat's Record-Breaking Triple Crown: History in the Making (June 18, 1973)
The Band is on the Field: The Week (November 29, 1982)
Strug's One-Legged Vault: Profile in Courage (August 5, 1996) also, Strug profile: Happy Landing (August 11, 1997)
Mike Tyson (vs. Evander Holyfield): Feeding Frenzy (July 7, 1997)

Cover image (July 08, 1974) of Gerald Ford, the undisputed record holder for most NFL contracts declined by a future President.

March 21, 2008

This Day In History: March 21

Today is the 81st day of 2008 and the 2nd day of spring.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1960, South African police killed 69 unarmed black protesters. In 1963, the federal penitentiary on Alcatraz Island closed. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter met with U.S. athletes and coaches to explain his decision to boycott the Moscow Olympic Games. In 1999, Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard and English copilot Brian Jones became the first to circumnavigate the earth nonstop by balloon.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), composer; Benito Juarez (1806- 1872), Mexican president; Florenz Ziegfeld (1867-1932), theater producer; Timothy Dalton (1946- ), actor, is 62; Gary Oldman (1958- ), actor, is 50; Ayrton Senna (1960-94), Formula One racer; Rosie O'Donnell (1962- ), comedienne/actress, is 46; Matthew Broderick (1962- ), actor, is 46; Ronaldinho (1980- ), soccer player, is 28.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1946, UCLA running back Kenny Washington became the NFL's first black player since 1933.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Everyone hears only what he understands." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

TODAY'S FACT: Johann Sebastian Bach was not the only member of his family known as a composer; seven generations of Bachs achieved prominence in various musical fields from 1580 to 1800.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 14 - The number of escape attempts from Alcatraz recorded over the 29 years that the prison operated; none proved successful.

TODAY'S MOON: Full moon (March 21).

March 20, 2008

This Day In History: March 20

Today is the 80th day of 2008 and the 1st day of spring.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1922, the first U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, USS Langley, was commissioned. In 1952, the U.S. Senate ratified a peace treaty returning sovereignty to Japan. In 1995, a Tokyo cult released sarin gas into the subway system, killing 12 and injuring thousands.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: B.F. Skinner (1904-90), psychologist; Sir Michael Redgrave (1908-95), actor; Fred Rogers (1928-2003), TV host; William Hurt (1950- ), actor, is 58; Spike Lee (1957- ), filmmaker, is 51; Holly Hunter (1958- ), actress, is 50.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1948, the National Boxing Federation adopted a 21-point safety program as an attempt to end a string of deaths in the ring.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten." - B.F. Skinner

TODAY'S FACT: The Japanese constitution, adopted in 1947, renounces war "forever."

TODAY'S NUMBER: $7 million - amount that Spike Lee's first feature film She's Gotta Have It grossed, far exceeding its $175,000 budget.

TODAY'S MOON: Between first quarter (March 14) and full moon (March 21).

March 19, 2008

This Day In History: March 19

Today is the 79th day of 2008 and the 89th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1918, the U.S. Congress established time zones and approved daylight saving time. In 1931, Nevada legalized most forms of gambling. In 1953, the Academy Awards were broadcast on TV for the first time. In 2003, a U.S.-led coalition began bombing Baghdad, marking the beginning of the Iraq War.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: David Livingstone (1813-73), physician/explorer; Wyatt Earp (1848-1929), lawman/gunfighter; Earl Warren (1891-1974), U.S. Supreme Court chief justice; Joe Venuti (1894-1978), jazz violinist; Glenn Close (1947- ), actress, is 61; Bruce Willis (1955- ), actor, is 53.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1995, NBA superstar Michael Jordan returned to the Chicago Bulls after almost 2 years of retirement.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Life and liberty can be as much endangered from illegal methods used to convict those thought to be criminals as from the actual criminals themselves." - Earl Warren

TODAY'S FACT: The films Ben-Hur, Titanic, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King all share the honor of receiving the most Oscars, at 11 each.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 32,292 - total points Michael Jordan scored in his career, third best in the NBA.

TODAY'S MOON: Between first quarter (March 14) and full moon (March 21).

March 18, 2008

This Day In History: March 18

Today is the 78th day of 2008 and the 88th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was established. In 1959, Hawaii was admitted as the 50th state of the U.S. In 1965, Russian cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov made the first spacewalk. In 1990, two men stole 12 paintings valued at $300 million from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Grover Cleveland (1837-1908), U.S. President; Nikolai Rimski-Korsakov (1844-1908), composer; George Plimpton (1927-2003), author/actor; Vanessa Williams (1963- ), actress/singer, is 45; Queen Latifah (1970- ), singer/actress, is 38.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1930, the NHL's Boston Bruins won a record 20th consecutive home game, which was tied by the Philadelphia Flyers in 1976.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Art has something to do with the arrest of attention in the midst of distraction." - George Plimpton

TODAY'S FACT: Hawaii is the only state with a single, unified school system; it contains 255 regular schools, 3 special schools, and 26 public charter schools.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 26 - number of countries in the NATO alliance after the addition of 7 former-Warsaw Pact nations in March 2004.

TODAY'S MOON: Between first quarter (March 14) and full moon (March 21).

March 17, 2008

This Day In History: March 17

Today is the 77th day of 2008 and the 87th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1861, Italy--excluding Rome and Venice--was unified under King Victor Emmanuel II. In 1905, Franklin Delano Roosevelt married distant cousin Eleanor Roosevelt. In 1950, Californium, the radioactive 98th element, was created. In 1995, the FDA approved "varivax," the first chicken pox vaccine.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Gottlieb Daimler (1834-1900), engineer/inventor; Bayard Rustin (1910-87), civil rights activist; Nat King Cole (1919-65), singer; Kurt Russell (1951- ), actor, is 47; Rob Lowe (1964- ), actor, is 44; Mia Hamm (1972- ), soccer player, is 36.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1886, The Sporting News published its first issue.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "When an individual is protesting society's refusal to acknowledge his dignity as a human being, his very act of protest confers dignity on him." - Bayard Rustin

TODAY'S FACT: Gottlieb Daimler is credited with building the first practical motorcycle in 1885.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 10 - number of elements in the periodic table that were identified before 1 CE.

TODAY'S MOON: Between first quarter (March 14) and full moon (March 21).

March 15, 2008

This Day In History: March 15

Today is the 75th day of 2008 and the 85th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 44 BCE, Roman Emperor Julius Caesar was assassinated. In 1919, the American Legion was formed in Paris. In 1989, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was established. In 2003, Hu Jintao became president of the People's Republic of China.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), U.S. president; Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933- ), U.S. Supreme Court justice, is 75; Judd Hirsch (1935- ), actor, is 73; Sly Stone (1944- ), musician, is 64; Bobby Bonds (1946-2003), baseball player; Eva Longoria (1975- ), actress, is 33.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1962, the NBA's Wilt Chamberlain ended the season with a record scoring average of 50.4 points per game.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "No one is so brave that he is not disturbed by something unexpected." - Julius Caesar

TODAY'S FACT: The Supreme Court chief justice's salary was $4,000 in 1789; in 2007, Chief Justice John Roberts' salary was $212,100.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 3 million - approximate current membership of the American Legion.

TODAY'S MOON: Between first quarter (March 14) and full moon (March 21)

March 14, 2008

This Day In History: March 14

Today is the 74th day of 2008 and the 84th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1794, Eli Whitney received a patent for the cotton gin. In 1936, the U.S. government began publishing the Federal Register. In 1989, U.S. President George H.W. Bush banned the importation of assault rifles.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: George Philipp Telemann (1681-1767), composer; Albert Einstein (1879-1955), physicist/Nobel Prize winner; Diane Arbus (1923-1971), photographer; Michael Caine (1933- ), actor, is 75; Billy Crystal (1947- ), actor, is 61; Kirby Puckett (1960-2006), baseball player.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1967, the AFL and NFL held their first common draft of college players.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Love involves a peculiar unfathomable combination of understanding and misunderstanding." - Diane Arbus

TODAY'S FACT: Albert Einstein was offered the role of president of Israel but declined, saying he was not suited for the position.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 19 - age of defensive tackle Amobi Okoye when drafted by the Houston Texans in 2007, the youngest college player to join the NFL.

TODAY'S MOON: First quarter (March 14).

March 13, 2008

This Day In History: March 13

Today is the 73rd day of 2008 and the 83rd day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1781, William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus. In 1884, the United States adopted Standard Time. In 1957, Jimmy Hoffa was arrested and charged with bribery.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Percival Lowell (1855-1916), astronomer; Walter Annenberg (1908-2002), publisher/philanthropist; L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986), author/Scientologist; Neil Sedaka (1939- ), singer, is 69; William H. Macy (1950- ), actor, is 58.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1992, Los Angeles Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn called his 2,500th consecutive game; he hadn't missed a broadcast since November 1965.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "He who opens a school, closes a prison." - Victor Hugo

TODAY'S FACT: Standard Time was introduced in the U.S. at the instigation of the railroad companies who needed a set of standard times in order to plan train schedules across the country.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 27 - number of known moons orbiting the planet Uranus.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (March 7) and first quarter (March 14).

March 12, 2008

This Day In History: March 12

Today is the 72nd day of 2008 and the 82nd day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1930, Mahatma Gandhi began a 200-mile march protesting British salt tax. In 1947, President Truman introduced the "Truman Doctrine" aimed at fighting communism. In 2002, the UN Security Council approved a resolution endorsing a Palestinian state.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Elaine de Kooning (1920-89), artist/critic; Jack Kerouac (1922-69), writer; Liza Minnelli (1946- ), actress, is 62; James Taylor (1948- ), singer/songwriter, is 60; Carl Hiaasen (1953- ), author, is 55; Darryl Strawberry (1962- ), baseball player, is 46.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1966, the NHL's Bobby Hull scored his 51st goal, becoming the first player to surpass 50 in a season.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "It is easy enough to be friendly to one's friends. But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion." - Mahatma Gandhi

TODAY'S FACT: Bobby Hull was in his ninth NHL season when he surpassed the 50-goal mark. His son, Brett, did it in his fourth full season.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 3 - number of weeks it took Jack Kerouac to write On the Road.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (March 7) and first quarter (March 14)

March 11, 2008

This Day In History: March 11

Today is the 71st day of 2008 and the 81st day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1888, the "Great Blizzard of '88" killed 400 Americans. In 1941, President Roosevelt signed the "Lend-Lease" bill, allowing the U.S. to provide supplies to its allies. In 2004, terrorist bombings of commuter trains in Madrid, Spain, killed 191 people.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Lawrence Welk (1903-1992), bandleader; Mercer Ellington (1919-1996), bandleader/composer; Rupert Murdoch (1931- ), media executive, is 77; Antonin Scalia (1936- ), U.S. Supreme Court justice, is 72; Jerry Zucker (1950- ), filmmaker, is 58; Johnny Knoxville (1971- ), actor, is 37; Dan Uggla (1980- ), baseball player, is 28.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1979, the NHL's Randy Hold was penalized a record 9 times for 67 minutes.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "There is nothing new in the realization that the Constitution sometimes insulates the criminality of a few in order to protect the privacy of us all." - Antonin Scalia

TODAY'S FACT: According to the Forbes 400, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch's wealth increased from $7.7 billion in 2006 to $8.8 billion in 2007, but his rank on the list dropped from 32 to 33.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 44 - number of countries that received the $50 million in funds and military goods made available under the 1941 Lend-Lease bill.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (March 7) and first quarter (March 14).

March 10, 2008

This Day In History: March 10

Today is the 70th day of 2008 and the 80th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1862, the U.S. treasury issued its first paper money. In 1864, Ulysses S. Grant became commander of the Union armies. In 1972, the U.S. Senate approved lowering the minimum voting age to 18.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Pablo de Sarasate (1844-1908), violinist/composer; Albert Fraenkel (1848-1916), physician; Clare Boothe Luce (1903-1987), playwright/politician; Chuck Norris (1940- ), actor, is 68; Sharon Stone (1958- ), actress, is 50; Rod Woodson (1965- ), football player, is 43.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1978, the Boston Bruins acquired veteran Dennis O'Brien on waivers from the Cleveland Barons, making him the first player to be with four different NHL teams in one season.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "It's not the voting that's democracy, it's the counting." - Tom Stoppard

TODAY'S FACT: The first paper money to circulate in the United States was issued in 1690 by the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 122,295,645 - number of popular votes cast in the 2004 presidential election--the highest eligible-voter turnout since 18 to 20-year-olds were enfranchised.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (March 7) and first quarter (March 14).

March 7, 2008

This Day In History: March 7

Today is the 67th day of 2008 and the 77th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1912, Roald Amundsen publicly announced his successful arrival at the South Pole. In 1936, Adolf Hitler defied the Treaty of Versailles and ordered German soldiers to reoccupy the Rhineland. In 1965, state troopers attacked 600 civil rights protesters on "Bloody Sunday" in Selma, Alabama.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: John Herschel (1792-1871), mathematician/astronomer; Luther Burbank (1849-1926), naturalist; Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), composer; Willard Scott (1934- ), TV personality, is 74; Ivan Lendl (1960- ), tennis player, is 48; Peter Sarsgaard (1971- ), actor, is 37; Rachel Weisz (1971- ), actress, is 37.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1996, Magic Johnson became the second player in NBA history to reach 10,000 career assists.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding." - Marshall McLuhan

TODAY'S FACT: In addition to being the first to reach the South Pole, Roald Amundsen was also the first to sail the Northwest Passage and the first to complete a Transarctic flight.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 73,674 - estimated number of Americans 100 years old or older in 2006.

TODAY'S MOON: New moon (March 7).

March 6, 2008

This Day In History: March 6

Today is the 66th day of 2008 and the 76th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1836, the Texas fort known as the Alamo fell to Mexican forces after its last defenders were slain. In 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that slaves were property in the Dred Scott decision. In 1981, Walter Cronkite signed off as CBS Evening News anchor for the last time. In 2007, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former chief of staff for Vice Pres. Dick Cheney, was convicted of perjury and obstructing justice.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564), painter/sculptor/architect; Cyrano de Bergerac (1619-55), soldier/writer; Bob Wills (1905-75), singer; Lou Costello (1906-59), actor/comedian; Ed McMahon (1923- ), TV personality, is 85; Alan Greenspan (1926- ), economist, is 82; Gabriel García Márquez (1928- ), novelist, is 80; Kiri Te Kanawa (1944- ), opera singer, is 64; Shaquille O'Neal (1972- ), basketball player, is 36.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1923, Johnny Weissmuller became the first swimmer to break five minutes for 440 yards. Weissmuller finished in 4:57, improving his own world record of 5:08 by 11 seconds.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The marble not yet carved can hold the form of every thought the greatest artist has." - Michelangelo Buonarroti

TODAY'S FACT: Of the nine justices who decided Dred Scott's fate, seven were appointed by pro-slavery Southern presidents and five came from slaveholding families.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 13 - number of days the Alamo defenders held off Mexican forces.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (February 28) and new moon (March 7).

March 5, 2008

This Day In History: March 5

Today is the 65th day of 2008 and the 75th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1770, British soldiers fired into a crowd of rowdy demonstrators, killing five, in the Boston Massacre. In 1946, Winston Churchill mentioned the "Iron Curtain" in a speech often regarded as the beginning of the Cold War. In 1970, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, ratified by 43 nations, went into effect.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Rex Harrison (1908-90), actor; James Tobin (1918-2002), economist; Felipe González Márquez, (1942- ), former Spanish premier, is 66; Penn Jillette, (1955- ), comedian/magician, is 53; John Frusciante (1971- ), musician, is 37.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1993, Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson received a lifetime competition ban after testing positive for banned substances a second time.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "A shadow has fallen upon the scenes so lately lighted by the Allied victory... From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent." - Winston Churchill

TODAY'S FACT: By 2007, 188 countries were signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. North Korea withdrew in Jan. 2003, joining India, Israel, and Pakistan.

TODAY'S NUMBER:1,219 -- number of drug tests conducted by the World Anti-Doping Agency for the 2006 Summer Olympics; one person tested positive and was disqualified.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (February 28) and new moon (March 7).

March 4, 2008

This Day In History: March 4

Today is the 64th day of 2008 and the 74th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1789, the first United States Congress met in New York City and declared the new Constitution in effect. In 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated as the 32nd U.S. president. In 1954, the first successful kidney transplant was performed. In 1997, President Bill Clinton forbade the use of federal funds for human cloning research.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741), composer; Casimir Pulaski (1747-79), military leader; Knute Rockne (1888-1931), football coach; John Garfield (1913-52), actor; Catherine O'Hara (1954- ), actress, is 54; Patricia Heaton (1959- ), actress, is 49; Ray Mancini (1961- ), boxer, is 47.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1995, champion boxer George Foreman refused to fight top-contender Tony Tucker and was stripped of his title by the World Boxing Association.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Most men, when they think they are thinking, are merely rearranging their prejudices." - Knute Rockne

TODAY'S FACT: Between 1945 and 1990 the U.S. produced more than 70,000 nuclear bombs and warheads; of these about 9,938 remained in the nuclear stockpile as of 2007.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 12 - Years that Franklin Delano Roosevelt held the presidency, the longest term of any president.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (February 28) and new moon (March 7).

March 3, 2008

This Day In History: March 3

Today is the 63rd day of 2008 and the 73rd day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1791, Congress passed its first excise tax, one on distilled liquors, which later sparked the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794. In 1845, Florida was admitted as the 27th state of the U.S. In 1931, the United States adopted "The Star-Spangled Banner" as its national anthem. In 2005, U.S. millionaire Steve Fossett became the first person to fly solo, non-stop around the world, without refueling.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), inventor; Jean Harlow (1911-37), actress; James Merrill (1926-95), poet; Ira Glass (1959- ), radio personality, is 49; Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1962- ), athlete, is 46; Jessica Biel (1982- ), actress, is 26.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1944, Bob Montgomery regained the lightweight boxing title in a rematch against Beau Jack.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you" - first words spoken on the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell to his assistant, Thomas Watson

TODAY'S FACT: There is no law that requires "The Star-Spangled Banner" to be set to a specific tune. The most popular version was originally composed around 1775 as the song of the Anacreontic Society, an English musicians club.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 6 - number of Olympic medals won by Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (February 28) and new moon (March 7).

March 2, 2008

This Day In History: March 2

Today is the 62nd day of 2008 and the 72nd day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1836, Texas became independent from Mexico. In 1877, Rutherford B. Hayes was declared the winner of the previous year's U.S. presidential election, though Samuel J. Tilden had won the popular vote. In 1933, the film King Kong premiered in New York. In 1969, the Concorde supersonic airplane flew--at subsonic speeds--for the first time.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Sam Houston (1793-1863), soldier/politician; Pope Pius XII (1876-1958); Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) (1904-91), author; Mel Ott (1909-58), baseball player; Desi Arnaz (1917-86), actor/musician; Tom Wolfe (1931- ), author/journalist, is 77; Mikhail Gorbachev (1931- ), former Soviet leader, is 77; Lou Reed (1942- ), musician, is 66; Jon Bon Jovi (1962- ), musician, is 46.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1927, Babe Ruth became the highest paid baseball player to date when the Yankees announced he would earn $70,000 a season for three years.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "When I'm in New York I look at the Empire State Building and feel as though it belongs to me ... or is it vice versa?" - Fay Wray

TODAY'S FACT: King Kong was made in 1933 for about $10.5 million (in today's dollars); the 2005 remake cost a whopping $207 million to produce.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 27 - number of publishers that rejected And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, Dr. Seuss' first book for children.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (February 28) and new moon (March 7).

March 1, 2008

This Day In History: March 1

Today is the 61st day of 2008 and the 71st day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1781, the Articles of Confederation were officially adopted. In 1932, the infant son of aviator Charles Lindbergh was kidnapped from the family home in New Jersey; he was later found dead. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps. In 2003, Pakistani counter-terrorism officials seized Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a principal planner of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. In 2005, the U.S Supreme Court ruled that the execution of convicts who had committed their crimes before the age of 18 was unconstitutional.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Glenn Miller (1904-44), bandleader; Ralph Ellison (1914-94), writer; Dinah Shore (1917-94), singer/TV host; Yitzhak Rabin (1922-95), prime minister of Israel; Harry Belafonte (1927- ), musician/actor, is 81; Roger Daltrey (1944- ), musician, is 64; Ron Howard (1954- ), actor/director, is 54.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1969, Major League Baseball star Mickey Mantle announced his retirement.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "You can cage the singer, but not the song." - Harry Belafonte

TODAY'S FACT: Following the sensational Lindbergh baby kidnapping, in June 1932 Congress passed the so-called Lindbergh Law, which gave the FBI jurisdiction over kidnappings that crossed state lines.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 190,000 - number of Peace Corps volunteers invited to 139 countries since its inception in 1961.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (February 28) and new moon (March 7).

February 29, 2008

This Day In History: Feb. 29

Today is the 60th day of 2008 and the 70th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1740, French and Indian attackers destroyed the town of Deerfield, Mass. In 1940, Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Oscar for her performance of "Mammy" in Gone with the Wind. In 1944, U.S. troops under General Douglas MacArthur invaded the Admiralty Islands. In 1960, an earthquake at Agadir, Morocco killed 12,000.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Ann Lee (1736-1784), brought the Shaker sect to America; Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868), composer; Herman Hollerith (1860-1929), engineer; Balthus (1908-2001), artist; Dinah Shore (1916-1994), singer; Al Rosen (1924- ), baseball player, is 84; Ja Rule (1976- ), rapper, is 32.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1972, Hank Aaron became the first MLB player to sign a $200,000 contract.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Painting is a language which no-one can replace with another language" - Balthus

TODAY'S FACT: In 1911, Hollerith's Tabulating Machine Company merged with 2 other enterprises to form the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, renamed in 1924 the International Business Machines (IBM).

TODAY'S NUMBER: 4 - number of shakers in the United States in 2008, all at Sabbathday Lake, Maine.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (February 28) and new moon (March 7).

February 28, 2008

This Day In History: Feb. 28

Today is the 59th day of 2008 and the 69th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1954, James Watson and Francis Crick identified the double-helix structure of DNA in a Columbia University laboratory. In 1983, the last episode of the TV series M*A*S*H aired on national television. In 1993, federal agents stormed the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Michel de Montaigne (1553-1592), essayist; Vincente Minnelli (1910-1986), film director; Zero Mostel (1915-1977), actor/comedian; Bernadette Peters (1948- ), Broadway performer, is 60; Paul Krugman (1953- ), columnist/economist, is 55; John Turturro (1957- ), actor, is 51.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1960, the U.S. hockey team defeated Czechoslovakia, 9-4, to win their first Olympic gold medal in Squaw Valley, CA.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Men are most apt to believe what they least understand." - Michel de Montaigne

TODAY'S FACT: The highest-rated single TV show in history was the last episode of M*A*S*H, seen by 60.2% of TV-owning households, then about 50 million households.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 1 - number of gold medals won by the U.S. men's hockey team since 1960. They have finished second twice.

TODAY'S MOON: Last quarter (February 28).

February 27, 2008

This Day In History: Feb. 27

Today is the 58th day of 2008 and the 68th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1827, New Orleans held its first Mardi Gras celebration. In 1951, the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, limiting presidents to two terms. In 1973, members of the American Indian Movement occupied the village of Wounded Knee on Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, beginning a standoff with federal marshals that lasted until May 8. In 1991, Kuwait was freed from Iraqi occupation by U.S.-led forces.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), poet; Hugo Black (1886-1971), U.S. Supreme Court justice; John Steinbeck (1902-1968), writer; Marian Anderson (1902-1993), singer; Joanne Woodward (1930- ), actress, is 78; Elizabeth Taylor (1932- ), actress, is 76; Ralph Nader (1934- ), consumer activist, is 74.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1901, baseball's National League ruled that all fouls count as strikes except after two strikes.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "I guess a man is the only kind of varmint [that] sets his own trap, baits it, and then steps in it." - John Steinbeck

TODAY'S FACT: Mardi Gras, French for Fat Tuesday, is always 47 days before Easter Sunday. In 2008, it was celebrated on February 5, its earliest date since 1913.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 34 - number of years for which Hugo Black served on the U.S. Supreme Court.

TODAY'S MOON: Between full moon (February 20) and last quarter (February 28).

February 26, 2008

This Day In History: Feb. 26

Today is the 57th day of 2008 and the 67th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1935, Adolf Hitler secretly commissioned a new German air force, the Luftwaffe. In 1987, the Tower Commission released its report on the Iran-Contra affair, criticizing President Ronald Reagan. In 1993, a terrorist bomb went off in the parking garage of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing six.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Victor Hugo (1802-1885), writer; Levi Strauss (1829-1902), tailor/inventor; Buffalo Bill Cody (1845-1917), frontiersman/showman; Jackie Gleason (1916-1987), comedian; Fats Domino (1928- ), musician, is 80; Johnny Cash (1932-2003), musician; Michael Bolton (1954- ), singer, is 54.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1978, golfer Nancy Lopez won the first LPGA tournament of her career--the Bent Tree Classic in Sarasota, Florida.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is a visible labor and there is an invisible labor. To meditate is to labor; to think is to act." - Victor Hugo

TODAY'S FACT: Levi Strauss, a Bavarian immigrant who went to San Francisco during the Gold Rush, made his first pair of "jeans" out of canvas.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 48 - age at which Johnny Cash was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, making him the youngest living inductee.

TODAY'S MOON: Between full moon (February 20) and last quarter (February 28).

February 25, 2008

This Day In History: Feb. 25

Today is the 56th day of 2008 and the 66th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte returned to France from exile on the island of Elba. In 1913, the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, which gives Congress the power to levy income taxes, went into effect. In 1986, President Ferdinand Marcos and his wife, Imelda, fled the Philippines.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), artist; Enrico Caruso (1873-1921), opera singer; John Foster Dulles (1888-1959), diplomat; George Harrison (1943-2001), musician; Sally Jessy Raphael (1943- ), TV personality, is 65; Sean Astin (1971- ), actor, is 37.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1964, Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, defeated Sonny Liston to win the heavyweight boxing crown.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The ability to get to the verge without getting into the war is the necessary art... if you are scared to go to the brink, you are lost." - John Foster Dulles

TODAY'S FACT: Renoir was debilitated by arthritis in his later years but continued to paint from his wheelchair with a brush strapped to his arm.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 1,060 -pairs of shoes left behind by Imelda Romualdez Marcos when the former Philippine first lady was forced to flee the country in 1986.

TODAY'S MOON: Between full moon (February 20) and last quarter (February 28).

February 22, 2008

This Day In History: Feb. 22

Today is the 53rd day of 2008 and the 63rd day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1819, Spain signed a treaty turning eastern Florida over to the United States. In 1879, F. W. Woolworth opened his first store. In 1992, the UN Security Council approved the creation of a war crimes tribunal to address atrocities committed in the former Yugoslavia's civil war. In 1997, Scottish scientists announced that they had cloned the first mammal from an adult, "Dolly" the sheep.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: George Washington (1732-1799), soldier/1st U.S. president; Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), philosopher; Frederic Chopin (1810-1849), composer; Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950), poet; Edward (Ted) Kennedy (1932- ), U.S. senator, is 76; Julius Erving (1950- ), basketball player, is 58; Drew Barrymore (1975- ), actress, is 33.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1980, in the so-called "Miracle on Ice," the U.S. Olympic hockey team upset the Soviet Union, 4-3, in Lake Placid, NY.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "There can be no greater error than to expect, or calculate, upon real favors from nation to nation." - George Washington

TODAY'S FACT: Like Mozart, Chopin was considered a musical prodigy in childhood; by the age of 7 he had composed two simple marches.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 119 - number of years Woolworth operated its F.W. Woolworth five-and-dimes until closing its last 400 stores in 1997.

TODAY'S MOON: Between full moon (February 20) and last quarter (February 28).

February 21, 2008

This Day In History: Feb. 21

Today is the 52nd day of 2008 and the 62nd day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1848, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published The Communist Manifesto. In 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated in New York City. In 1972, Richard Nixon became the first U.S. president to visit China.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Leo Delibes (1836-1891), composer; Anais Nin (1903-1977), writer; Sam Peckinpah (1925-1984), film director; Erma Bombeck (1927-1996), humorist; William Petersen (1953- ), actor, is 55; Kelsey Grammer (1955- ), actor, is 53; Jennifer Love Hewitt (1979- ), actress, is 29.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1970, in a game against the New York Rangers, Bobby Hull of the Chicago Blackhawks became the third player in NHL history to score 500 lifetime goals.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom." - Malcolm X

TODAY'S FACT: Chemnitz, East Germany, changed its name to Karl-Marx-Stadt in 1953. After East and West Germany reunited in 1990, the name was changed back following a referendum.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 1 - presidents since Richard Nixon who have not visited China. Jimmy Carter normalized relations with the People's Republic of China in 1979 but never made an official visit to the country.

TODAY'S MOON: Between full moon (February 20) and last quarter (February 28).

February 20, 2008

This Day In History: Feb. 20

Today is the 51st day of 2008 and the 61st day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1839, Congress passed legislation prohibiting dueling in the District of Columbia. In 1864, the Confederates won the Battle of Olustee, the biggest Civil War battle fought in Florida. In 1962, astronaut John Glenn made three orbits of the Earth. In 1986, the Soviet Union launched the Mir space station.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Ansel Adams (1902-1984), photographer; Sidney Poitier (1924- ), actor, is 84; Kelsey Grammer (1955- ), actor, is 53; Charles Barkley (1963- ), basketball player/broadcaster, is 45; Kurt Cobain (1967-1994), musician; Stephon Marbury (1977- ), basketball player, is 31.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1998, 15-year-old Tara Lipinski became the youngest woman to win a figure skating gold medal at the Olympics.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "History passes the final judgment." - Sidney Poitier

TODAY'S FACT: There have been 23 NASA astronauts from Ohio to date, including John Glenn and Neil Armstrong.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 1,954 - length in miles of the border between the United States and Mexico.

TODAY'S MOON: Full moon (February 20).

February 19, 2008

This Day In History: Feb. 19

Today is the 50th day of 2008 and the 60th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1807, former U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr was arrested for treason. In 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which led to the internment of Japanese-Americans. In 1945, the U.S. Marines landed on Iwo Jima.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Nicolas Copernicus (1473-1543), astronomer; Stan Kenton (1912-1979), jazz musician; Lee Marvin (1924-1987), actor; Smokey Robinson (1940- ), singer, is 68; Amy Tan (1952- ), writer, is 56; Benicio Del Toro (1967- ), actor, is 41.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1995, Sterling Marlin became the first person in a decade to win back-to-back Daytona 500s.

TODAY'S QUOTE:"Never do today what you can as well do tomorrow; because something may occur to make you regret your premature action." - Aaron Burr

TODAY'S FACT: About 33,000 Japanese-Americans served in the U.S. military during World War II.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 29,035 - height in feet of Mount Everest, world's highest mountain.

TODAY'S MOON: Between first quarter (February 13) and full moon (February 20).

February 15, 2008

This Day In History: Feb. 15

Today is the 46th day of 2008 and the 56th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1898, the U.S. battleship Maine blew up in Havana Harbor, ultimately touching off the Spanish-American War. In 1944, American planes bombed the historic abbey of Monte Cassino in Italy. In 1950, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong signed a mutual defense pact. In 2005, the website YouTube was launched.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), scientist; Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906), Harold Arlen (1905-1986), songwriter; Claire Bloom (1931- ), actress, is 77; Matt Groening (1954- ), cartoonist, is 54; Chris Farley (1964-1997), comedian; Jaromir Jagr (1972- ), hockey player, is 36.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1998, after 19 losses, Dale Earnhardt Sr. won his first and only Daytona 500.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "But I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason and intellect has intended us to forego their use and by some other means to give us knowledge which we can attain by them. " - Galileo Galilei

TODAY'S FACT: The Simpsons is the longest running American sitcom, currently in its 19th season.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 12,750 - total length, in miles, of sidewalks in New York City.

TODAY'S MOON: Between first quarter (February 13) and full moon (February 20).

February 14, 2008

This Day In History: Feb. 14

Today is the 45th day of 2008 and the 55th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1859, Oregon entered the union as the 33rd state. In 1899, Congress passed legislation authorizing states to use voting machines in federal elections. In 1912, Arizona entered the union as the 48th state. In 1929, seven mobsters were killed in Chicago in the "Valentine's Day Massacre."

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Jack Benny (1894-1974), comedian; Jimmy Hoffa (1913-1975), labor leader; Mel Allen (1913-1996), sports broadcaster; Florence Henderson (1934- ), actress, is 74, Meg Tilly (1960- ), actress, is 48; Drew Bledsoe (1972- ), football player, is 36.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1988, Bobby Allison became the oldest driver (age 50) to win the Daytona 500, while his son Davey finished second. It was the race's first 1-2 father-son finish.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Age is strictly a case of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter." - Jack Benny

TODAY'S FACT: Valentine's Day derives from a religious feast day celebrating two Christian martyrs by that name, but details of their lives are murky. Many say the feast day was instituted as a replacement for the pagan festival of Lupercalis.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 24 - number of times that Mel Allen announced Major League Baseball's All-Star game.

TODAY'S MOON: Between first quarter (February 13) and full moon (February 20).

February 13, 2008

This Day In History: Feb. 13

Today is the 44th day of 2008 and the 54th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1689, William and Mary were proclaimed joint monarchs of Great Britain. In 1866, Jesse James held up his first bank. In 1945, Allied aircraft began bombing the German city of Dresden. In 1960, France successfully detonated its first atomic bomb. In 2000, the last of Charles Schulz's Peanuts comics ran in Sunday papers.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Grant Wood (1892-1942), artist; Chuck Yeager (1923- ), aviator, is 85; Kim Novak (1933- ), actress, is 75; Jerry Springer (1944- ), TV personality, is 64; Stockard Channing (1944- ), actress, is 64; Randy Moss (1977- ), football player, is 31; Robbie Williams (1974- ), singer, is 34.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1976, American Dorothy Hamill won the Gold Medal in figure skating at the Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

TODAY'S FACT: The city of Dresden was devastated by Allied bombing raids; estimates of civilian casualties from the bombings range from 35,000 to 135,000.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 17,897 - number of Peanuts comic strips penned by Charles Schulz over nearly 50 years.

TODAY'S MOON: First quarter (February 13).

February 12, 2008

This Day In History: Feb. 12

Today is the 43rd day of 2008 and the 53rd day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1554, Lady Jane Grey was beheaded. In 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded in New York City. In 1999, the U.S. Senate acquitted President Bill Clinton on both impeachment counts against him, the first 55-45 against conviction, the second 50-50. In 2002, former Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic went on trial for crimes against humanity.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), U.S. president; Charles Darwin (1809-1882), scientist; Franco Zeffirelli (1923- ), director, is 85; Bill Russell (1934- ), basketball player, is 74; Judy Blume (1938- ), writer, is 70; Arsenio Hall (1955- ), actor/comedian, is 53; Christina Ricci (1980- ), actress, is 28.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1878, Harvard baseball player Frederick Thayer patented the catcher's mask.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Truth is generally the best vindication against slander." - Abraham Lincoln

TODAY'S FACT: Charles Darwin replaced Charles Dickens on Britain's 10-pound note in 2000, reportedly in part because Darwin's imposing beard would make forgery difficult.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 9 - days Lady Jane Grey was queen of England before she met her demise.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (February 6) and first quarter (February 13).

February 11, 2008

This Day In History: Feb. 11

Today is the 42nd day of 2008 and the 52nd day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin concluded their meeting in Yalta. In 1962, writer Sylvia Plath committed suicide in London. In 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from a South African prison after over 27 years behind bars. In 2006, Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded a friend while hunting quail.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Thomas Edison (1847-1931), inventor; Leslie Nielsen (1926- ), actor, is 82; Mary Quant (1934- ), fashion designer and creator of the miniskirt, is 74; Burt Reynolds (1936- ), actor, is 72; Sheryl Crow (1962- ), singer, is 46; Jennifer Aniston (1969- ), actress, is 39; Kelly Rowland (1981- ), singer, is 27.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1949, Willie Pep regained the featherweight boxing title by defeating Sandy Saddler.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The miniskirt enables young ladies to run faster, and because of it, they may have to." - John Lindsay, mayor of New York City

TODAY'S FACT: During his imprisonment, Nelson Mandela was allowed to receive one letter every six months and one visitor for 30 minutes every year.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 14,678 - number of unintentional deaths caused by firearms in the U.S. in 2006.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (February 6) and first quarter (February 13).

February 10, 2008

This Day In History: Feb. 10

Today is the 41st day of 2008 and the 51st day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1763, the Seven Years War, often known in the U.S. as the French and Indian War, ended with the Treaty of Paris. In 1840, Britain's Queen Victoria married Prince Albert. In 1967, the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, clarifying presidential succession, was ratified. In 1996, the IBM "Deep Blue" computer defeated chess champion Garry Kasparov in 34 moves, though Kasparov went on to win the tournament 3-1 with two draws. In 2005, North Korea publicly acknowledged that it had nuclear weapons.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Charles Lamb (1775-1824), writer; Boris Pasternak (1890-1960), writer; Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), playwright; Jimmy Durante (1893-1980), comedian; Mark Spitz (1950- ), swimmer, is 58; Laura Dern (1967- ), actress, is 41.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1990, Buster Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson in what has been called the greatest upset in boxing history.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Sentimentally I am disposed to harmony; but organically I am incapable of a tune." - Charles Lamb

TODAY'S FACT: Arthur Miller died exactly 56 years after Death of a Salesman opened in New York on this date in 1949.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 9 - number of children Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had together; all married into royal houses in Europe.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (February 6) and first quarter (February 13).

February 9, 2008

This Day In History: Feb. 9

Today is the 40th day of 2008 and the 50th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1861, Jefferson Davis was elected president of the Confederate States of America. In 1964, the Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, launching rock music's "British invasion." In 1994, Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: William Henry Harrison (1773-1841), U.S. president; Ronald Colman (1891-1958), actor; Brendan Behan (1923-1964), playwright; Roger Mudd (1928- ), broadcaster, is 80; Joe Pesci (1943- ), actor, is 65; Alice Walker (1944- ), writer, is 64; Mia Farrow (1945- ), actress, is 63; Travis Tritt (1963- ), singer, is 45; Mena Suvari (1979- ), actress, is 29.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1992, Magic Johnson, who had retired three months earlier after announcing he had contracted HIV, was named MVP of the NBA All-Star game.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "A candidate's character is central to political reporting because it is central to a citizen's decision in voting. The media, therefore, have a major obligation--nay, a burden--to report on the character of our presidential candidates." - Roger Mudd

TODAY'S FACT: Some 45.3 percent of all U.S. TV-owning households tuned in to see The Beatles debut in America on The Ed Sullivan Show, the then-highest rated TV telecast and still the 24th highest of all-time.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 250 - length in feet of Henry Ford's first assembly line.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (February 6) and first quarter (February 13).

February 8, 2008

This Day In History: Feb. 8

Today is the 39th day of 2008 and the 49th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1587, Mary, Queen of Scots, was beheaded. In 1910, the Boy Scouts of America was incorporated. In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which drastically overhauled U.S. media regulations, into law. In 2005, Israel and Palestine announced a cease-fire.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891), U.S. general; Jules Verne (1828-1905), writer; Lana Turner (1920-1995), actress; Jack Lemmon (1925-2001), actor; James Dean (1931-55), actor; Nick Nolte (1941- ), actor, is 67; John Grisham (1955- ), writer, is 53; Gary Coleman (1968 - ), actor, is 40.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1998, Finland beat Sweden 6-0 in the first women's Olympic ice hockey game.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "War is hell." - attributed to William Tecumseh Sherman

TODAY'S FACT: In 1971, Baskin-Robbins created "Jack Lemon Ice Cream" in honor of the actor.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 51 - number of years that artist Norman Rockwell illustrated the official Boy Scout calendar.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (February 6) and first quarter (February 13).

February 7, 2008

This Day In History: Feb. 7

Today is the 38th day of 2008 and the 48th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1904, the Great Fire of Baltimore, which destroyed over 1,500 buildings, broke out. In 1917, a German U-boat sank the British ship California off the Irish coast. In 1964, the Beatles arrived in New York.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: St. Thomas More (1477-1535), lawyer/writer/politician, saint; Charles Dickens (1812-1870), novelist; Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957), writer; Eubie Blake (1883-1983), composer, pianist; Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951), novelist; Garth Brooks (1962- ), singer, is 46; Chris Rock (1966- ), actor/comedian, is 42; Ashton Kutcher (1978- ), actor, is 30.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1970, Pete Maravich set the all-time record for points scored in a college basketball game (69).

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Take nothing on its looks: take everything on evidence." - Charles Dickens

TODAY'S FACT: The Beatles had released three singles in the U.S. to very little fanfare before "I Want to Hold Your Hand" soared up the charts.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 71 - number of days (plus 14 hours, 18 minutes and 33 seconds) in Ellen MacArthur's record-setting solo sail around the globe, which she finished on this day in 2005.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (February 6) and first quarter (February 13).

February 6, 2008

This Day In History: Feb. 6

Today is the 37th day of 2008 and the 47th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1778, representatives of the United States and France signed an alliance in Paris. In 1788, Massachusetts ratified the U.S. Constitution and became the 6th U.S. state. In 1952, Britain's King George VI died of cancer. In 1998, President Bill Clinton signed a bill changing the name of Washington National Airport to Ronald Reagan National Airport. In 2001, Ariel Sharon was elected prime minister of Israel.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593), dramatist/poet; Aaron Burr (1756-1836), politician/U.S. vice president; Babe Ruth (1895-1948), baseball player; Zsa Zsa Gabor (1917- ), actress, is 91; Bob Marley (1945-1981), musician; Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), 40th U.S. president; Tom Brokaw (1940- ), journalist/author, is 68.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1958, the Boston Red Sox signed Ted Williams for $135,000, at the time the highest salary in baseball history.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Status quo, you know, that is Latin for 'the mess we're in.'" - Ronald Reagan

TODAY'S FACT: Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and chairman of the Reagan Legacy Project, lead the effort to rename Washington National Airport after Ronald Reagan.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 76 - percentage of Israel's population that is Jewish.

TODAY'S MOON: New moon (February 6).

February 5, 2008

This Day In History: Feb. 5

Today is the 36th day of 2008 and the 46th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1631, Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island, arrived in Boston from England. In 1937, President Franklin Roosevelt announced a plan to expand the Supreme Court to as many as 15 justices. In 1988, Panamanian military leader Manuel Noriega was indicted in Florida on charges of bribery and drug trafficking.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965), politician/diplomat; Red Buttons (1919-2006), comedian; Hank Aaron (1934- ), baseball player, is 74; Christopher Guest (1948- ), actor/filmmaker, is 60; Jennifer Jason Leigh (1962- ), actress, is 46; Laura Linney (1964- ), actress, is 44; Bobby Brown (1969- ), singer, is 39.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1972, Bob Douglas, "the Father of Black Basketball" became the first African American elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Man does not live by words alone, despite the fact that sometimes he has to eat them." - Adlai Stevenson

TODAY'S FACT: The Third Punic War, between Rome and Carthage, led to the destruction of the city of Carthage in 146 BC; some 2,100 years later, on February 5, 1985, the mayors of Rome and Carthage met in Tunis, Algeria, and signed a friendship treaty declaring the end of the war.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 31 - number of years between the assassination of Medgar Evers and the conviction of his killer, Byron de la Beckwith, on this day in 1994.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (January 30) and new moon (February 6).

February 4, 2008

This Day In History: Feb. 4

Today is the 35th day of 2008 and the 45th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1789, George Washington was unanimously elected as first president of the United States by the Electoral College. In 1922, the Ford Motor Co. acquired the Lincoln Motor Co. for $8 million. In 1974, newspaper heiress Patty Hearst was kidnapped in Berkeley, California. In 1999, Hugo Chávez was elected president of Venezuela.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Fernand Leger (1881-1955), artist; Charles Lindbergh (1902-1974), aviator; Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), theologian/Holocaust victim; Rosa Parks (1913-2005), activist; Betty Friedan (1921-2006), writer/activist; Oscar de la Hoya (1973- ), boxer, is 35.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1987, skipper Dennis Conner sailed to victory in the America's Cup, redeeming his loss in 1983--the first time an American had failed to win the 132 year-old event.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "It is easier to live through someone else than to become complete yourself." - Betty Friedan

TODAY'S FACT: The 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY, were the first Olympic Games to use artificial snow.

TODAY'S NUMBER: -81°F - the coldest outdoor temperature recorded in North America to date, at Snag in Canada's Yukon Territory, on this day in 1947.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (January 30) and new moon (February 6).

February 3, 2008

This Day In History: Feb. 3

Today is the 34th day of 2008 and the 44th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1913, the federal income tax was authorized with ratification of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution. In 1959, rock pioneers Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. "Big Bopper" Richardson died in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa. In 1962, President John Kennedy banned trade with Cuba. In 1994, President Bill Clinton ended the 19-year-old trade embargo with Vietnam.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847), composer; Horace Greeley (1811-1872) activist/newspaper editor; Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), writer; Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), artist/illustrator; James Michener (1907-1997), novelist; Blythe Danner (1943- ), actress, is 65; Morgan Fairchild (1950- ), actress, is 58; Nathan Lane (1956- ), actor, is 52; Maura Tierney (1965- ), actress, is 43.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1990, legendary jockey Willie Shoemaker rode the 40,350th and final race of his career.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense." - Gertrude Stein

TODAY'S FACT: Juneau, Alaska, can be reached by cruise ship, ferry, or air, but it is the only U.S. city that cannot be reached by road

TODAY'S NUMBER: 400 - pages of federal tax rules in the first edition of the commonly used Standard Federal Tax Reporter. There are now more than 67,000.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (January 30) and new moon (February 6).

February 2, 2008

This Day In History: Feb. 2

Today is the 33rd day of 2008 and the 43rd day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1626, Charles I was crowned king of England. In 1848, the war between the U.S. and Mexico ended with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. In 1921, airmail service began between New York and San Francisco. In 1990, South African president F.W. de Klerk ended the ban on the African National Congress and promised to free Nelson Mandela.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: James Joyce (1882-1941), author; George Halas (1895-1983), football coach/team owner; W.H. Auden (1907-1973), poet; Jussi Bjoerling (1911-1960), opera singer; Elaine Stritch (1926- ), actress/comedienne, is 82; Stan Getz (1927-1991), jazz musician; Farrah Fawcett (1947- ), actress, is 61; Christie Brinkley (1954- ), model, is 54; Shakira (1977- ), singer, is 31.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1936, the first inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame were announced: Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "I've put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that's the only way of insuring one's immortality." - James Joyce

TODAY'S FACT: Since the release of the popular movie Groundhog Day (1993), crowds of up to 30,000 have visited Gobbler's Knob in Pennsylvania each year on February 2 to see whether Punxsutawney Phil observes his shadow.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 96 - number of times in the 120-year history of Groundhog Day that Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (January 30) and new moon (February 6).

February 1, 2008

This Day In History: Feb. 1

Today is the 32nd day of 2008 and the 42nd day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1861, Texas voted to secede from the Union, as pro-Union Governor Sam Houston stormed out of the session in protest. In 1920, Canada created the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. In 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. and more than 700 other demonstrators were arrested at a protest in Selma, Alabama. In 2003, the U.S. space shuttle Columbia fell apart minutes before it was due to land, killing its seven-member crew.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: John Ford (1895-1973), film director; Clark Gable (1901-1960), actor; Langston Hughes (1902-1967), poet; Renata Tebaldi (1922-2004), opera singer; Boris Yeltsin (1931-2007), Russian president; Princess Stephanie of Monaco (1965- ) is 43.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1995, Utah Jazz guard John Stockton broke Magic Johnson's record for all-time assists, finishing the game with a career total of 9,227.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Humor is laughing at what you haven't got when you ought to have it." - Langston Hughes

TODAY'S FACT: Before February was Black History Month, Harvard scholar Carter G. Woodson created "Negro History Week" in 1926, for the second week in February, when both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass were born.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 12,345,678,987,654,321 - number that results from multiplying 111,111,111 by 111,111,111.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (January 30) and new moon (February 6).

January 31, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 31

Today is the 31st day of 2008 and the 41st day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1606, Guy Fawkes was executed for his role in the Gunpowder Plot in Britain. In 1917, Germany announced the renewal of submarine warfare in the Atlantic. In 1968, the North Vietnamese Tet Offensive began in South Vietnam. In 2006, Samuel Alito, Jr. took the bench as the 110th Supreme Court justice.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Franz Schubert (1797-1828), composer; John O'Hara (1905-1970), writer; Jackie Robinson (1919-1972), baseball player; Carol Channing (1923- ), actress, is 85; Norman Mailer (1923-2007), writer; Justin Timberlake (1981- ), singer, is 27.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 2003, the Chicago White Sox announced that they were changing the name of Comiskey Park to U.S. Cellular Field.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "A modern democracy is a tyranny whose borders are undefined; one discovers how far one can go by travelling in a straight line until one is stopped." - Norman Mailer

TODAY'S FACT: The first Social Security check, issued today in 1940, was for $22.54 and went to Ida May Fuller, who lived on a Vermont farm. Having worked less than three years under Social Security, she only paid $24.75, but had collected $ 22,888.92 by the time of her death in 1975.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 10,000 - the number of Baby Boomers who become eligible for Social Security every day.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (January 30) and new moon (February 6).

January 30, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 30

Today is the 30th day of 2008 and the 40th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1649, England's King Charles I was executed. In 1943, German troops surrendered in Stalingrad, ending World War II's bloodiest battle. In 2005, Iraqi citizens voted in the first free elections in a half century despite surrounding violence.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945), U.S. president; Barbara Tuchman (1912-1989), historian; Ernie Banks (1931- ), baseball player, is 77; Gene Hackman (1930- ), actor, is 78; Tammy Grimes (1934- ), actress/singer, is 74; Dick Cheney (1941- ), U.S. vice president, is 67; Jalen Rose (1973- ), basketball player, is 35.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 2002, Karl Malone became the second NBA player (after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) to score 34,000 career points.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "In our personal ambitions we are individualists. But in our seeking for economic and political progress as a nation, we all go up--or else all go down--as one people." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

TODAY'S FACT: In 1660, after the restoration of the monarchy, the body of Oliver Cromwell, who had ruled England for 9 years following the execution of Charles I, was disinterred and hanged.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 5,171 - number of polling centers in Iraq that opened for free elections in 2005 (out of the 5,232 centers that were expected).

TODAY'S MOON: Last quarter (January 30).

January 29, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 29

Today is the 29th day of 2008 and the 39th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1861, Kansas was admitted into the union as the 34th state. In 1891, Queen Liliuokalani became the last monarch of the Hawaiian Islands. In 1984, Ronald Reagan announced that he would run for a second term as U.S. president. In 2002, Pres. George W. Bush described Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as part of an "axis of evil" in his State of the Union address.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Thomas Paine (1737-1809), patriot/philosopher; William McKinley (1843-1901), U.S. president; Anton Chekhov (1860-1904), playwright, writer; W.C. Fields (1880-1946), comedian; Tom Selleck (1945- ), actor, is 63; Oprah Winfrey (1954-), TV personality, is 54; Jonny Lang, (1981- ), musician, is 27.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1995, the San Francisco 49ers beat the San Diego Chargers 49-26, becoming the first NFL team to win five Super Bowls.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "I never vote for anyone. I always vote against." - W.C. Fields

TODAY'S FACT: Edgar Allan Poe published his famous poem "The Raven" anonymously in the New York Evening Mirror on this day in 1845. He was paid $15.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 2 - approximate percentage of Ellis Island arrivals not admitted into the U.S.

TODAY'S MOON: Between full moon (January 22) and last quarter (January 30).

January 28, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 28

Today is the 28th day of 2008 and the 38th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1547, England's King Henry VIII died. In 1871, France surrendered to Germany, ending the Franco-Prussian War. In 1915, the U.S. Coast Guard was founded. In 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff, killing seven astronauts.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Jose Marti (1853-1895), poet/activist; Colette (1873-1954), writer; Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), artist; Alan Alda (1936- ), actor, is 72; Elijah Wood (1981- ), actor, is 27.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1901, baseball's American League formally organized as a major league.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Total absence of humor renders life impossible." - Colette

TODAY'S FACT: A ranch owner in Fort Keogh, Montana, discovered the largest reported snowflake on this day in 1887. It measured 15 inches wide and 8 inches thick.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 20,000-25,000 - estimated number of genes in the human genome, revised from 100,000 in 2001.

TODAY'S MOON: Between full moon (January 22) and last quarter (January 30).

January 25, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 25

Today is the 25th day of 2008 and the 35th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1533, King Henry VIII of England married Anne Boleyn. In 1787, Shay's Rebellion broke out in Massachusetts. In 1915, Alexander Graham Bell made the first transcontinental telephone call from New York to San Francisco. In 1961, a few days after his inauguration, President John F. Kennedy held the first televised presidential news conference.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Robert Burns (1759-1796), poet; W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1964), novelist; Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), novelist/essayist; Etta James (1938- ), singer, is 70; Paul Nurse (1949- ), biochemist, is 59; Chris Chelios (1962- ), hockey player, is 46; Alicia Keys (1981- ), singer, is 27.

TODAY'S SPORTS In 1924, the first ever Winter Olympics began in Chamonix, France.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Yet it is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top." - Virginia Woolf

TODAY'S FACT: In the first Winter Olympics, the Canadian ice hockey team trounced their opponents, winning all 5 games and outscoring the competition 110-3.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 6 - number of wives of King Henry VIII, two of which he ordered executed by beheading.

TODAY'S MOON: Between full moon (January 22) and last quarter (January 30).

January 24, 2008


0801Gold Rush.jpgJames W. Marshall was merely hired to build a sawmill for John Sutter along the American River at what is now Coloma, CA, but when he found small pieces of gold in the mill's tailrace on this day 160 years ago it touched off a rush for riches.

More than 100,000 people moved to California in the following years—so many that it entered the Union on Sept. 9, 1850 with the nickname "The Golden State." Very few made their riches through gold, but some found success in other ways, including Levi Strauss (jeans), James McClatchy (newspapers and publishing), and Leland Stanford (railroad tycoon and founder of Stanford Univ.).

The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco has a chronology of the gold rush and accounts by Marshall, Sutter, and several "Argonauts of 49" (49ers for short).

The California State Library has posted some of their manuscripts pertaining to the gold rush in an online exhibit of ephemera, including some by Marshall and Sutter.

The Gold Rush (Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco)
California As We Saw It (California State Library)
Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park

"Gum Shan Meets El Dorado" Quarter plate daguerreotype by J. B. Starkweather (c. 1852)

This Day In History: Jan. 24

Today is the 24th day of 2008 and the 34th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1848, gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill in California, setting off the California Gold Rush. In 1965, Winston Churchill died at the age of 90. In 2003, Tom Ridge was sworn in as the first secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Pierre de Beaumarchais (1732-1799), playwright; Edith Wharton (1862-1937), novelist; Robert Motherwell (1915-1991), artist; Oral Roberts (1918- ), evangelist, is 90; Neil Diamond (1941- ), singer/songwriter, is 67; John Belushi (1949-1982), comic actor; Nastassja Kinski (1960- ), actress, is 48; Mary Lou Retton (1968- ), Olympic gold medalist, is 40; Mischa Barton (1986- ), actress, is 22.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1980, Fred Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday bought the New York Mets for an estimated $21.1 million, at the time the most ever paid for a baseball franchise.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Songs are life in eighty words or less." - Neil Diamond

TODAY'S FACT: Seventy-three years ago today, canned beer went on sale for the first time, in Richmond, Virginia.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 2,558 - number of times Barry Bonds was walked in the 2007 season, more than Hank Aaron (1,402) or Babe Ruth (2,062).

TODAY'S MOON: Between full moon (January 22) and last quarter (January 30).

January 23, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 23

Today is the 23rd day of 2008 and the 33rd day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1845, Congress designated that presidential elections would be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. In 1922, in Toronto, insulin was first injected into a human patient with diabetes. In 1968, North Korean patrol boats captured the USS Pueblo.. In 2005, Viktor Yushchenko was sworn in as president of the Ukraine, only four months after becoming seriously ill as a result of dioxin poisoning.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Stendhal (1783-1842), novelist; Edouard Manet (1832-1883), artist; Sergei Eisenstein (1898-1948), film director; Ernie Kovacs (1919-1962), comedian; Chita Rivera (1933- ), actress/dancer, is 73; Rutger Hauer (1944- ), actor, is 64; Princess Caroline of Monaco (1957- ) is 51; Mariska Hargitay (1964- ), actress, is 44.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1944, the Detroit Red Wings set a record for the most one-sided hockey game by beating the New York Rangers 15-0.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Eighty percent of success is showing up." - Woody Allen

TODAY'S FACT: Chita Rivera was the first Hispanic woman to receive a Kennedy Center Honors Award. She has also received two Tony Awards for her work in musical theatre.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 2,600,000 - highest recorded mileage for a car, a 1966 Volvo P1800-S owned by retired science teacher Irv Gordon of Long Island in New York.

TODAY'S MOON: Between full moon (January 22) and last quarter (January 30).

January 22, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 22

Today is the 22nd day of 2008 and the 32nd day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1901, Britain's Queen Victoria died at age 82, after a record 64-year reign. In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling on abortion in the Roe v. Wade case. In 1997, Madeline Albright was confirmed as the first female U.S. Secretary of State. In 1998, "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski pleaded guilty in Sacramento, CA, and was sentenced to life without parole.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Francis Bacon (1561-1626), philosopher/essayist; Lord Byron (1788-1824), poet; August Strindberg (1849-1912), playwright; D.W. Griffith (1875-1948), film director; George Balanchine (1904-1983), choreographer; Steve Perry (1949- ), singer, is 59; Linda Blair (1959- ), actress, is 49.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 2006, Kobe Bryant of the L.A. Lakers scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, the second most in a regular NBA game.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Opinions are made to be changed--or how is truth to be got at?" - Lord Byron

TODAY'S FACT: The tradition of performing Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker during the holiday season began with George Balanchine and the New York City Ballet in 1954.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 16 - number of bombings attributed to Ted Kaczynski over his 17-year spree.

TODAY'S MOON: Full moon (January 22).

January 21, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 21

Today is the 21st day of 2008 and the 31st day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1793, King Louis XVI of France went to the guillotine in Paris. In 1861, Jefferson Davis resigned from the U.S. senate. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter pardoned nearly all Vietnam War draft evaders. In 2003, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that Hispanics had surpassed Blacks as the largest minority group in the U.S.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Stonewall Jackson (1824-1863); soldier; Christian Dior (1905-57), fashion designer; Telly Savalas (1924-1994), actor; Jack Nicklaus (1940- ), golfer, is 68; Placido Domingo (1941- ), opera singer, is 67; Geena Davis (1956- ), actress, is 52.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1979, the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 35-31, in Super Bowl XIII to become the first NFL team to win three Super Bowls.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Governments rest on the consent of the governed, and that it is the right of the people to alter or abolish them at will whenever they become destructive of the ends for which they were established." - Jefferson Davis

TODAY'S FACT: Though it was primarily in use during the French Revolution, the guillotine was used for executions in France as recently as 1977; the death penalty was abolished there in 1981.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 44.3 million - estimated Hispanic population of the U.S. as of July 1, 2006.

TODAY'S MOON: Between first quarter (January 15) and full moon (January 22).

January 18, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 18

Today is the 18th day of 2008 and the 28th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1778, Captain James Cook discovered the Hawaiian Islands, calling them the Sandwich Islands. In 1964, planners unveiled the designs for New York's World Trade Center. In 1993, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time. In 2002, the decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone was declared over by President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755), political philosopher; Daniel Webster (1782-1852), statesman/orator; A. A. Milne (1882-1965), children's author; Cary Grant (1904-1986), actor; Danny Kaye (1913-1987), entertainer; Kevin Costner (1955- ), actor, is 53; Mark Messier (1961- ), NHL player, is 47.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1976, wide receiver Lynn Swann gained 161 yards on four receptions and was named MVP as Pittsburgh defeated Dallas, 21-17, in Super Bowl X.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries." - A.A. Milne

TODAY'S FACT: Cary Grant's real name was Archibald Leach.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 137 - number of islands included in Hawaii's official territory, a chain extending more than 1,000 miles.

TODAY'S MOON: Between first quarter (January 15) and full moon (January 22).

January 17, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 17

Today is the 17th day of 2008 and the 27th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1773, Captain James Cook, along with his shipmates, became the first to sail south of the Antarctic Circle. In 1819, Simon Bolivar proclaimed Colombia a republic. In 1991, a U.S.-led coalition's planes struck targets in Kuwait and Iraq, launching the Persian Gulf War.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), statesman/inventor/author; Al Capone (1899-1947), organized crime boss; Betty White (1922- ), actress, is 86; James Earl Jones (1931- ), actor, is 77; Muhammad Ali (1942- ), boxer, is 66; Jim Carrey (1962- ), actor, is 46.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1971, the Baltimore Colts defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 16-13, in Super Bowl V, a game so filled with errors it was called the "Blunder Bowl."

TODAY'S QUOTE: "A man who views the world at 50 the same way as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life." - Muhammad Ali

TODAY'S FACT: When James Earl Jones was four he developed a stutter and refused to talk. A high school teacher finally helped him overcome it.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 26 - age of Al Capone when he became boss of the Chicago Outfit.

TODAY'S MOON: Between first quarter (January 15) and full moon (January 22).

January 16, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 16

Today is the 16th day of 2008 and the 26th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1920, the League of Nations held its first meeting. In 1964, Hello, Dolly! opened on Broadway. In 1979, the Shah of Iran fled his homeland in the wake of a revolution. In 2006, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf took power in Liberia as the first woman in Africa to be elected head of state.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Ethel Merman (1909-1984), Broadway star; Dizzy Dean (1910-1974), baseball player; Susan Sontag (1933-2004), author/critic; Marilyn Horne (1934- ), opera singer, is 74; Ronnie Milsap (1944- ), singer, is 64; Roy Jones Jr. (1969- ), pro boxer, is 39; Kate Moss (1974- ), model, is 34.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1961 Mickey Mantle signed a contract for an annual salary of $75,000, making him the highest paid player in the American League.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Silence remains, inescapably, a form of speech." - Susan Sontag

TODAY'S FACT: Ethel Merman was the 8th performer to play the lead in the Broadway production of Hello, Dolly!, following in the footsteps of the likes of Carol Channing, Pearl Bailey, Phyllis Diller, Betty Grable, and Ginger Rogers.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 28 - number of countries that were members of the League of Nations for its entire duration; 35 other nations were members intermittently.

TODAY'S MOON: Between first quarter (January 15) and full moon (January 22).

January 15, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 15

Today is the 15th day of 2008 and the 25th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1759, the British Museum opened to the public. In 1920, prohibition went into effect in the United States. In 1930, Amelia Earhart reached a speed of 171 mph in a Lockheed Vega, setting an aviation record for women. In 2006, Michelle Bachelet became the first woman elected president of Chile.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Edward Teller (1908-2003), physicist; Gene Krupa (1909-1973), jazz drummer; Lloyd Bridges (1913-1998), actor; Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918-1970), Egyptian president; Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), civil rights leader; Mario Van Peebles (1957- ), actor/director, is 51; Kari Mattila (1959- ), opera singer, is 49.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1942, U.S President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent a letter to the commissioner of Major League Baseball that gave the "green light" to play during World War II.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

TODAY'S FACT: The Volstead Act, passed by Congress to enforce the 18th (Prohibition) Amendment, made concessions for medicinal, sacramental, and industrial liquors, as well as for fruit and grape beverages prepared for personal use in homes.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 44 - number of years Queen Elizabeth I of England reigned after being officially crowned on this day in 1559.

TODAY'S MOON: First quarter (January 15).

January 14, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 14

Today is the 14th day of 2008 and the 24th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1784, the U.S. ratified the "Treaty of Paris" that ended the Revolutionary War. In 1943, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Charles de Gaulle met in Casablanca, Morocco. In 2004, former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow pleaded guilty to wire and securities fraud, accepting a 10-year prison sentence.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Benedict Arnold (1741-1801), American soldier/traitor; Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965), theologian/physician; Hal Roach (1892-1992), film and TV producer; John Dos Passos (1896-1970), writer; Andy Rooney (1919- ), writer/TV commentator, is 89; Faye Dunaway (1941- ), actress, is 67; Shannon Lucid (1943- ), astronaut, is 65; LL Cool J (1968- ), rapper, is 40; Jason Bateman (1969- ), actor, is 39.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1973, the Miami Dolphins defeated the Washington Redskins in the Super Bowl, 14-7, and became the only NFL team ever to end the season undefeated.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The creation of a world view is the work of a generation rather than of an individual, but we each of us, for better or worse, add our brick to the edifice." - John Dos Passos

TODAY'S FACT: Franklin D. Roosevelt's meeting in Casablanca marked the first time a U.S. president ever left the country's soil during wartime. .

TODAY'S NUMBER: 16 - number of other conflicts ended by treaties known as a "Treaty of Paris," including the Seven Years War and Spanish-American War

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (January 8) and first quarter (January 15).

January 13, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 13

Today is the 13th day of 2008 and the 23rd day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1864, American songwriter Stephen Foster died in New York's Bellevue Hospital at age 37. In 1910, inventor Lee de Forest made a live radio broadcast from New York's Metropolitan Opera. In 1942, the Allies announced that they would prosecute war criminals after the end of World War II. In 1990, Virginian L. Douglas Wilder became the first elected African American governor.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Horatio Alger (1832-1899), author; Sophie Tucker (1884-1966), singer; Gwen Verdon (1926-2000), dancer and actress; Charles Nelson Reilly (1921-2007), actor; Julia Louis-Dreyfus (1961- ), actress, is 47; Orlando Bloom (1977- ), actor, is 31.

TODAY'S SPORTS In 2005, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig sold the Milwaukee Brewers to Mark Attanasio for $223 million.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "You can only milk a cow so long; then you're left holding the pail." - Hank Aaron.

TODAY'S FACT: In 1959, Lee De Forest won an honorary Oscar for his 1920 invention that made "talkies," films with audio, possible.

January 12, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 12

Today is the 12th day of 2008 and the 22nd day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1915, the United States established the Rocky Mountain National Park. In 1932, Hattie Wyatt Caraway of Arkansas became the first woman elected to the Senate. In 1991, a divided Congress authorized Pres. George H.W. Bush to use force in expelling Iraq from Kuwait.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: John Hancock (1737-1793), founding father of the U.S.; Edmund Burke (1729-1797), British statesman; Jack London (1876-1916), writer; Joe Frazier (1944- ), boxer, is 64; Rush Limbaugh (1951- ), radio personality, is 57; Howard Stern (1954- ), radio personality, is 54; Kirstie Alley (1955- ), actress, is 52; Jeff Bezos (1964- ), founder, is 44.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1999, Mark McGwire's 70th home run ball was sold in auction to Todd McFarlane, creator of Spawn comics, for $3 million, the most ever paid for a sports artifact.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Toleration is good for all, or it is good for none." - Edmund Burke

TODAY'S FACT: opened in 1995 but it didn't make a profit until 2002.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 16 - number of women serving at the start of the 110th U.S. Senate.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (January 8) and first quarter (January 15).

January 11, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 11

Today is the 11th day of 2008 and the 21st day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1908, Pres. Theodore Roosevelt declared the Grand Canyon a national monument. In 1964, the U.S. surgeon general issued the first U.S. government report concluding that smoking could be hazardous to health. In 2003, departing Illinois governor George Ryan commuted the sentences of an unprecedented 156 death row inmates.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Alexander Hamilton (1755?-1804), U.S. statesman; William James (1842-1910), philosopher/psychologist; Rod Taylor (1930- ), actor, is 78; Jean Chretien (1934- ), former Canadian prime minister, is 74; Naomi Judd (1946- ), singer, is 62; Mary J. Blige (1971- ), singer, is 37.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1973, the owners of MLB's American League teams approved the rule of the designated hitter.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry." - Mark Twain

TODAY'S FACT: Alexander Hamilton was born to a poor family on the Caribbean island of Nevis; conflicting sets of records leave it unclear whether he was born in 1755 or 1757.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 438,000 - estimated number of smoking-related deaths in America each year from 1997 to 2001.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (January 8) and first quarter (January 15).

January 10, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 10

Today is the 10th day of 2008 and the 20th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1776 Thomas Paine published his pro-independence pamphlet Common Sense, which quickly sold some 100,000 copies. In 1863, the London Underground (subway) began operations. In 1901, Texas had its first significant oil strike at Beaumont. In 2003, North Korea withdrew from the multi-nation treaty barring it from developing a nuclear weapons program.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Ray Bolger (1904-1987), actor/dancer; Paul Henreid (1908-1992), actor; Sal Mineo (1939-1976), actor; Rod Stewart (1945- ), singer, is 63; George Foreman (1949- ), boxer, is 59; Pat Benatar (1953- ), singer, is 55.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1982, Dwight Clark caught a touchdown pass, thrown by Joe Montana, with 51 seconds to spare to secure a San Francisco 49er's victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC championship game.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Boxing is sort of like jazz. The better it is, the less amount of people can appreciate it." - George Foreman

TODAY'S FACT: A butterfly can see the colors red, green, and yellow.

TODAY'S NUMBER: $530 million - estimated amount of John D. Rockefeller's philanthropy at the time of his death in 1937, which would now equal about $7.7 billion.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (January 8) and first quarter (January 15).

January 9, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 9

Today is the 9th day of 2008 and the 19th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1788, Connecticut ratified the U.S. Constitution and became the fifth U.S. state. In 1905, nervous guards at the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, opened fire on unarmed protesters, killing about 200 and sparking revolution. In 1945, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and the American 6th Army invaded the island of Luzon in the Philippines. In 2005, Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), was elected president of the Palestinian Authority.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Chic Young (1901-1973), creator of Blondie; Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986), writer; Richard Nixon (1913-1994), U.S. president; Judith Krantz (1928- ), writer, is 80; Bob Denver (1935-2005), actor; Joan Baez (1941- ), singer, is 67; Mark Martin (1959- ), NASCAR driver, is 49; Dave Matthews (1967- ), musician, is 41.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1972, the Milwaukee Bucks ended the L.A. Lakers' record 33-game winning streak with a 120-104 win.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Don't get the impression that you arouse my anger... You see, one can only be angry with those he respects." - Richard Nixon

TODAY'S FACT: The comic strip "Blondie," launched by Chic Young in 1930, eventually appeared in more than 2,000 newspapers around the world and was the subject of a 1995 stamp commemorating the centennial of the American comic strip.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 1,057 - number of rooms in the Winter Palace. It is now part of the Hermitage museum.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (January 8) and first quarter (January 15).

January 8, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 8

Today is the 8th day of 2008 and the 18th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1815, Andrew Jackson defeated the British at the Battle of New Orleans. In 1877, Crazy Horse fought—and lost—his final battle against the U.S. Cavalry. In 1916, Allied forces retreated from Turkey's Gallipoli Peninsula after a crushing defeat. In 1982, AT&T agreed to give up its 22 local "Baby Bells."

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Jose Ferrer (1912-1992), actor; Elvis Presley (1935-1977), singer/actor; Soupy Sales (1926- ), TV personality, is 82; Stephen Hawking (1942- ), physicist, is 66; David Bowie (1947- ), musician, is 61; Wolfgang Puck (1949- ), chef, is 59; R. Kelly (1967), singer, is 41.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1901, the first American Bowling Congress sanctioned tournament was held in Chicago, IL.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "People who boast about their I.Q. are losers." - Stephen Hawking when asked his I.Q. by a New York Times reporter

TODAY'S FACT: About 600,000 people annually visit Elvis Presley's Graceland estate.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 641 - projected length (in feet) of the Crazy Horse Memorial, which will be the largest sculpture in the world when it is completed.

TODAY'S MOON: New moon (January 8).

January 7, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 7

Today is the 7th day of 2008 and the 17th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1785, Jean-Pierre Blanchard and John Jeffries crossed the English Channel in a balloon. In 1955, Marian Anderson made her debut at New York's Metropolitan Opera House, becoming the first African American to sing there. In 1999, the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton began in the Senate.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Millard Fillmore (1800-1874), U.S. president; Francis Poulenc (1899-1963), composer; Zora Neale Hurston (1901-1960), writer; Charles Addams (1912-1988), cartoonist; David Caruso (1956- ), actor, is 52; Katie Couric (1957- ), TV news anchor, is 51; Nicolas Cage (1964- ), actor, is 44.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1927, in Hinckley, IL, the Harlem Globetrotters played the first game of their long career.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "You know, everybody makes mistakes when they are president." - Bill Clinton

TODAY'S FACT: The original Harlem Globetrotters were actually from Chicago. The name was a marketing tool. The team didn't play a game in Harlem until 1968.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 2.5 - length in hours of the first balloon trip across the English Channel (at its narrowest point of 21 miles).

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (December 31, 2007) and new moon (January 8, 2008).

January 6, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 6

Today is the 6th day of 2008 and the 16th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1838, Samuel F. B. Morse publicly demonstrated the telegraph for the first time. In 1912, New Mexico was admitted to the Union as the 47th state. In 1919, former President Theodore Roosevelt died at age 60. In 1941, Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt declared the Four Freedoms (freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from want and fear) in a speech to Congress.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Joan of Arc (1412-1431), French saint and national heroine; Max Bruch (1838-1930), composer; Carl Sandburg (1878-1967), poet/biographer; Tom Mix (1880-1940), actor; Khalil Gibran (1883-1931), poet/novelist; Danny Thomas (1912-1991), comedian; Loretta Young (1913-2000), actress; Rowan Atkinson (1955- ), actor, is 53; Howie Long (1960- ), football player/broadcaster, is 48.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1994, U.S. champion figure skater Nancy Kerrigan is clubbed on the knee on the orders of a rival, Tonya Harding.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Slang is a language that rolls up its sleeves, spits on its hands, and goes to work." - Carl Sandburg

TODAY'S FACT: Theodore Roosevelt, the youngest president to take office at age 42, was the first president to travel outside of the U.S.

TODAY'S NUMBER: $30,000 - amount Congress appropriated in 1843 for Samuel F. B. Morse to construct the first experimental telegraph line between Washington, DC, and Baltimore, MD.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (December 31, 2007) and new moon (January 8, 2008).

January 5, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 5

Today is the 5th day of 2008 and the 15th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1914, Ford Motor Company raised basic wages from $2.40 for a 9-hour day to $5 for an 8-hour day. In 1968, Alexander Dubcek came to power in Czechoslovakia, launching what is known as the "Prague Spring." In 1979, the Vietnamese captured Phnom Penh, ending the rule of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. In 2005, the dwarf planet Eris was discovered.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Walter Mondale (1928- ), former U.S. vice president, is 80; Umberto Eco (1929- ), author, is 79; Robert Duvall (1931- ), actor, is 77; Juan Carlos (1938- ), king of Spain, is 70; Diane Keaton (1946- ), actress, is 62.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1957, Jackie Robinson retired from Major League Baseball, 23 days after being traded from the Brooklyn Dodgers to the New York Giants.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else." - Umberto Eco

TODAY'S FACT: The National Weather Service issues a blizzard warning when a storm has sustained winds or frequent gusts of 35 miles an hour or more, and enough falling snow to cut visibility to under 1/4 mile for 3 hours.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 1,672 - number of performances of "The Wiz," Broadway's musical adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, at the Majestic Theatre in New York, after premiering this day in 1975.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (December 31, 2007) and new moon (January 8, 2008).

January 4, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 4

Today is the 4th day of 2007 and the 14th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1920, the Negro National League, the first black professional baseball league, was established. In 1995, the 104th U.S. Congress convened with Republican majorities in both the House and Senate for the first time since the Eisenhower presidency. In 2006, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a debilitating stroke that prevented him from governing.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Isaac Newton (1642-1727), mathematician/physicist; Louis Braille (1809-1852), Braille alphabet inventor; King Camp Gillette (1855-1932), safety razor inventor; Jane Wyman (1914- ), actress, is 93; Floyd Patterson (1935- ), boxer, is 72; Dyan Cannon (1937- ), actress, is 70; Michael Stipe (1960- ), rock musician, is 47; Julia Ormond (1965- ), actress, is 42.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1991, 12-year-old Fu Mingxia from China won the women's 10-meter platform at the World Swimming Championships in Perth, Australia, becoming the youngest aquatic world champion ever.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "It's easy to do anything in victory. It's in defeat that a man reveals himself." - Floyd Patterson

TODAY'S FACT: King Camp Gillette wanted to devise a new product that consumers would need to purchase repeatedly; his safety razors were one of the first and most successful disposable products ever made.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 17 - number of Negro League and pre-Negro League members inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (December 31, 2007) and new moon (January 8, 2008).

January 3, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 3

Today is the 3rd day of 2008 and the 13th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1777, Revolutionary forces under the command of George Washington defeated the British at Princeton, NJ. In 1959, Alaska entered the union as the 49th state. In 2004, the unmanned NASA spacecraft Spirit landed on Mars.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: John Paul Jones (1747-1792), U.S. naval officer; Lucretia Mott (1793-1880), women's rights pioneer; J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973), author; Victor Borge (1909-2000) comedian/pianist; Mel Gibson (1956- ), actor, is 52; Danica McKellar (1975- ), actress, is 33; Eli Manning (1981- ), football player, is 27.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1983, Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett set an NFL record by running 99 yards from scrimmage for a touchdown.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "We too often bind ourselves by authorities rather than by the truth." - Lucretia Mott

TODAY'S FACT: In 2000, evidence that liquid water flowed on Mars was discovered, supporting the theory that life could exist on the Red Planet.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 670,053 - estimated population of the state of Alaska in July 2006--about triple its population at the time it attained statehood.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (December 31, 2007) and new moon (January 8, 2008).

January 2, 2008

Memorable Moments in Sports: "The Band is on the Field!"

Here's another Memorable Moment from the World Almanac 2008—this time, an amazing final play from 1982:
"The Band is on the Field"
November 20, 1982: Univ. of California v. Stanford

With four seconds left on the clock, Stanford took the lead (20-19) with a field goal. On the last-second kickoff return California players charged down the field, as the Stanford marching band ran out to celebrate. California players shot five lateral passes, ending with Cal's Kevin Moen, who scored the game-winning touchdown by charging through the middle of the band--and knocking down Stanford trombone player Gary Tyrrell.

Of course, if you know anything about "The Play," you know that the legality of some of those laterals has been hotly contested over the years. Hit the links below for more exhaustive background and discussion of this crazy moment in college sports.

The Anatomy of a Miracle (Sports Illustrated, Sept. 1, 1983)
The Play Lives On (
20 years later, 'The Play' a tough act to forget (Daily Vanguard, Nov. 11, 2002)
The Play: Bears Attack the Band (YouTube)

This Day In History: Jan. 2

Today is the 2nd day of 2008 and the 12th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1492, the Moors were driven out of Spain as Granada fell to the forces of Ferdinand and Isabella. In 1893, former slave Frederick Douglass delivered an address at the Chicago World's Fair. In 1974, Pres. Richard Nixon signed legislation that required all states to institute a 55-mph highway speed limit or lose federal highway aid. In 2006, a methane gas explosion in a Sago, WV, coal mine trapped 13 miners, only 1 survived.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Tito Schipa (1888-1965), opera tenor; Sir Michael Tippett (1905-98), composer; Isaac Asimov (1920-1992), writer; Roger Miller (1936-1992), singer/songwriter; Jim Bakker (1939- ), former televangelist, is 69; J. Dennis Hastert (1942- ), former speaker of the U.S. House, is 66; Cuba Gooding, Jr. (1968- ), actor, is 40; Christy Turlington (1969- ), model, is 39; Taye Diggs (1971- ), actor/singer, is 37.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1984, Miami upset heavily favored Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, 31-30, as Nebraska failed on a two-point conversion at game's end.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." - Frederick Douglass

TODAY'S FACT: Frederick Douglass was the first African American to receive a vice presidential nomination, with the Equal Rights Party in 1872, but he neither campaigned for nor acknowledged it.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 466 - number of books written by Isaac Asimov, according to his memoir.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (December 31, 2007) and new moon (January 8, 2008).

January 1, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 1

Today is the 1st day of 2008 and the 11th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1831, William Lloyd Garrison launched publication of the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator. In 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing Confederate slaves, took effect. In 1892, the Ellis Island immigration station opened in New York City. In 1959, the Cuban government of Fulgencio Batista was overthrown by the rebel forces of Fidel Castro. In 2002, the Euro became the legal tender for all European Union member states.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Paul Revere (1735-1818), American patriot; E.M. Forster (1879-1970), novelist; J. Edgar Hoover (1895-1972), FBI chief; J.D. Salinger (1919- ), writer, is 89; Frank Langella (1940- ), actor, is 68; Grandmaster Flash (1958- ), hip hop performer, is 50; P.T. Anderson (1970- ), filmmaker, is 38.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1961, the Houston Oilers won the first American Football League championship, 24-16, against the Los Angeles Chargers.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom to the free." - Abraham Lincoln

TODAY'S FACT: Kathleen Casey Wilkins, considered the first of some 78 million postwar baby boomers, was born in Philadelphia, a minute after midnight on January 1, 1946.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 100 - number of light bulbs on the first-ever Times Square New Years Eve ball, made of iron and wood, dropped to celebrate the start of 1907.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (December 31, 2007) and new moon (January 8, 2008).

December 31, 2007

The World Almanac 2007 Time Capsule

Another year, another World Almanac Time Capsule, filled with ten items that represent some of the trends and events that defined the year, from politics to sports to pop culture. Disagree with our choices? Let us know in the comments.
2007 Time Capsule: Harry Potter
J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, with a purchase receipt from its July 21 release date--on which it sold more than 10 mil copies in the U.S. and U.K.
2007 Time Capsule: Pelosi Gavel
The gavel used by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), the first woman elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, to open the 110th Congress.
2007 Time Capsule: Pet Food
A pouch of contaminated pet food, one of the first of many tainted consumer products yanked from store shelves in 2007.
2007 Time Capsule: Virginia Tech
A candle from Virginia Tech's Apr. 17 nighttime vigil in memory of the victims of the Apr. 16 shootings.
2007 Time Capsule: Bonds Ball
Barry Bond's 756th home run ball, purchased at auction by designer Marc Ecko for $752,467. Ecko later sponsored an online vote which determined that the ball should be branded with an asterisk and donated to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
2007 Time Capsule: IPCC
A copy of Climate Change 2007, a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which called the global warming trend "unequivocal" and said that human behavior was "very likely" contributing to it.
2007 Time Capsule: Ethanol
A gallon of ethanol, which was produced in the U.S. in record amounts in 2007--13 mil barrels in July alone, a 33% increase over July 2006.
2007 Time Capsule: Florida Gators
Florida Gators football and basketball jerseys, in honor of their unprecedented dual championship seasons.
2007 Time Capsule: Foreclosure
One of the record number of foreclosure notices (nearly 250,000 in August alone) that were served upon home buyers in 2007 in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis.
2007 Time Capsule: iPhone
An iPhone, preloaded with an mp3 of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," in honor of the last scene in the final season of The Sopranos.

This Day In History: Dec. 31

This Day in History

1600: The English East India Company is granted a charter by Queen Elizabeth I.
1879: Thomas Edison publicly demonstrates his electric incandescent light for the first time, in Menlo Park, NJ.
1961: The Marshall Plan, a U.S. aid program for post-World War II Europe, ends after distributing foreign aid worth some $12 billion.
1974: For the first time in more than 40 years, private citizens in the United States are allowed to buy and own gold.
1984: The United States leaves UNESCO.
1999: Boris Yeltsin officially resigns as Russia's president, handing over power to Vladimir Putin as acting president.
The U.S. surrenders control over the Panama Canal to Panama, in accordance with a treaty signed in 1977. The zone surrounding the canal had already been handed back in 1979.:

Continue reading "This Day In History: Dec. 31" »

December 28, 2007

This Day In History: Dec. 28

This Day in History

1732: Poor Richard's Almanack is published for the first time by Benjamin Franklin.
1832: John C. Calhoun becomes the first vice president to resign.
1846: Iowa is admitted to the Union as the 29th state.
1945: Congress officially recognizes the Pledge of Allegiance.
1981: The first American test-tube baby is born,in Norfolk, VA.
2001: Pres. George W. Bush formally grants China permanent normal trade status with the U.S.

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December 27, 2007

This Day In History: Dec. 27

This Day in History

1927: Leon Trotsky and his followers are expelled from the Communist Party by the Soviet Communist Congress. The musical Show Boat opens in New York.
1941: Rubber rationing begins in the United States.
1947: Howdy Doody, the first popular children's TV show, premieres.
1979: The Soviet Union Afghanistan.
2002: Four days after starting to reopen a plutonium processing plant, North Korea announces that it will expel all international inspectors from the country. Chechen rebels explode two bombs near the pro-Russian government offices in Grozny, killing at least 63.

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December 26, 2007

This Day In History: Dec. 26

This Day in History

1620: The Pilgrims, aboard the Mayflower, land at Plymouth, MA.
1776: After staging a surprise attack, Gen. George Washington and his Continental Army defeat the Hessian mercenaries at the Battle of Trenton, NJ during the American Revolution.
1898: French scientists Pierre and Marie Curie discover the element radium.
1971: U.S. bombers begin a massive five-day campaign against North Vietnam, in retaliation for alleged violations of earlier agreements.
1991: The Soviet Union is officially broken up.
1996: In a case that draws national attention, 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey is found murdered in her basement in Boulder, CO.
2003: A horrific earthquake in the ancient Iranian city of Bam kills 41,000.
2004: An extremely powerful earthquake off the coast of Sumatra triggers a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that slams into the coastlines of a number of countries, killing at least 178,000 people. Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko defeats Premier Viktor Yanukovich in a repeat presidential runoff election.

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December 25, 2007

This Day In History: Dec. 25

This Day in History

800: Charlemagne is crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III.
1776: Gen. George Washington and his troops, in Pennsylvania, begin to recross the Delaware River.
1868: Pres. Andrew Johnson grants an unconditional pardon to everyone involved in the South's rebellion against the Union.
1926: Hirohito becomes Japanese emperor.
1989: Romanian Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, ousted in an uprising, are executed after being tried and found guilty of genocide.
1991: In a nationally televised address, Soviet Pres. Mikhail Gorbachev announces his immediate resignation; shortly after his speech, the Soviet flag above the Kremlin is replaced by the flag of pre-revolutionary Russia.
2003: Pakistani Pres. Pervez Musharraf survives his second assassination attempt in two weeks when suicide bombers slam into his motorcade in Rawalpindi, killing 13 and injuring 40.

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December 24, 2007

This Day In History: Dec. 24

This Day in History

1798: The Second Coalition, a military alliance comprising a number of European empires and kingdoms, is formed to resist French revolutionary forces commanded by Napoleon.
1814: The Treaty of Ghent is signed by the United States and Britain, ending the War of 1812.
1865: The Ku Klux Klan is formed in Tennessee.
1920: Enrico Caruso, Italian dramatic tenor, gives the last performance of his career at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.
1941: Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Min. Winston Churchill meet in Washington, D.C., to discuss strategy for World War II.
1942: German engineer Werner von Braun launches the first surface-to-surface guided missile.
1951: King Idris I proclaims the independence of the federal United Kingdom of Libya.
1992: Pres. George Bush grants full pardons to former Defense Sec. Caspar Weinberger and 5 others for their alleged involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal.
1994: Carlos "The Jackal," one of the world's most notorious terrorists , is sentenced to life in prison by a Paris court.

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December 19, 2007

This Day In History: Dec. 19

This Day in History

1777: During the American Revolution, the Continental Army establishes a camp at Valley Forge, PA.
1958: The satellite Atlas transmits the first radio voice broadcast from space, containing Christmas greetings from Pres. Dwight Eisenhower.
1984: Chinese Prem. Zhao Ziyang and British Prime Min. Margaret Thatcher sign an agreement granting China sovereignty over Hong Kong as of July 1, 1997.
1986: The Soviet Union releases dissidents Andrei Sakharov and Yelena Bonner from internal exile in Gorky.
1998: The U.S. House of Representatives votes to impeach Pres. Bill Clinton on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with a cover-up of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.
2002: U.S. Sec. of State Colin Powell declares Iraq to be in "material breach" of UN resolutions.
2003: After 9 months of secret talks, Pres. George W. Bush and British Prime Min. Tony Blair announce that Libyan Pres. Muammar al-Qaddafi has agree to eliminate his country's chemical, biological, and nuclear programs and to accept international inspections.
2004: Two car bombs explode about an hour apart in the southern Iraqi cities of Karbala and Najaf, killing about 70 people and wounding at least 175 more.

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December 18, 2007

This Day In History: Dec. 18

This Day in History

1787: New Jersey enters the Union as the third of the original 13 states.
1916: The longest battle of World War I, the Battle of Verdun, ends with 750,000 casualties.
1917: The 18th Amendment, establishing Prohibition, is submitted to the states by Congress.
1956: The UN General Assembly votes unanimously to admit Japan to the UN.
1961: Indian forces invade and annex the remaining Portuguese enclaves on the Indian subcontinent: Goa, Daman, and Diu.
1972: During the Vietnam War, full-scale bombing of North Vietnam resumes after Paris peace talks reach an impasse.
1996: In a controversial move, the Oakland, CA, school board recognizes black English as a distinct language.
1997: South Korean opposition leader Kim Dae Jung is elected president.

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December 17, 2007

This Day In History: Dec. 17

This Day in History

1777: France recognizes the independence of the 13 American colonies.
1819: The republic of Colombia, consisting of Venezuela and New Granada (now Colombia ), is proclaimed, with independence leader Simón Bolívar as president.
1903: Orville and Wilbur Wright pilot the first successful flights of a heavier-than-air mechanically propelled airplane, at Kitty Hawk, NC.
1933: The Chicago Bears defeat the NY Giants in the first NFL championship football game, 23-21.
1992: The NAFTA trade agreement is signed by Pres. George Bush, Canadian Prime Min. Brian Mulroney, and Mexican Pres. Carlos Salinas de Gortari.

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December 16, 2007

This Day In History: Dec. 16

This Day in History

1773: To protest a British tax on tea, patriots dressed as Indians board a British vessel and throw 350 chests of tea overboard, in what becomes known as the Boston Tea Party.
1864: During the Civil War, Union troops defeat the Confederates at the Battle of Nashville, TN.
1944: At the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge during World War II, the Germans launch an offensive in France's Ardennes Forest.
1991: The United Nations votes to revoke Resolution 3379, which equated Zionism with racism.
2005: The New York Times reports that U.S. President George W. Bush in 2002 secretly authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to eavesdrop on people in the U.S. who were suspected of terrorist activities without first obtaining court-approved warrants.

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December 15, 2007

This Day In History: Dec. 15

This Day in History

1791: The Bill of Rights goes into effect after being ratified by Virginia.
1890: Sioux leader Sitting Bull is killed in a skirmish with U.S. soldiers.
1917: The new Bolshevik government in Russia signs an armistice with the German government.
1961: An Israeli court convicts Adolf Eichmann of war crimes committed during World War II.
1981: Javier Pérez de Cuéllar is sworn in as secretary general of the United Nations.
1983: The last U.S. troops leave Grenada, which they entered in October after a Marxist coup there.
2000: Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma officially decommissions the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, site of the world's worst nuclear accident in 1986.
2005: Iraqi legislative elections give a group of Shiite Muslim religious parties the largest bloc of seats in the parliament.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Dec. 15" »

December 14, 2007

This Day In History: Dec. 14

This Day in History

1799: George Washington dies at Mount Vernon, VA, after an attack of acute laryngitis.
1819: Alabama is admitted to the Union as the 22d state.
1911: Norwegian Roald Amundsen, with 4 men and sled dogs, becomes the first explorer to reach the South Pole.
1918: In Great Britain, women vote for the first time.
1981: Israel annexes the Golan Heights, which it has occupied since 1967.
1993: In Geneva, Switzerland, representatives of 117 countries conclude the GATT treaty to reduce tariffs and eliminate trade quotas.
1995: The Dayton Peace Accords on Bosnia are formally signed in Paris, France. They divide Bosnia and Hercegovina into a Muslim-Croat federation (51%) and a Serb republic (49%), with Sarajevo as the national capital.
1999: The United States officially hands over control of the Panama Canal to Panama.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Dec. 14" »

December 13, 2007

This Day In History: Dec. 13

This Day in History

1545: The Council of Trent, an attempt by the Roman Catholic Church to respond to the Protestant Reformation, begins its meetings.
1577: Sir Francis Drake begins his voyage to circumnavigate the globe.
1862: During the Civil War, Confederate troops under Gen. Robert E. Lee defeat the Union at the Battle of Fredericksburg.
1981: In Poland, the government decrees martial law and suspends the activities of the Solidarity labor union.
1991: North and South Korea sign a reconciliation and nonaggression pact, in their broadest accord since the 1953 armistice unofficially ending the Korean War.
2001: Five gunmen with links to Pakistani terror organizations open fire outside the Indian parliament building; 14 people, including the terrorists, are killed in the chaos. Pres. George W. Bush announces that the U.S. will withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the Soviet Union.
2002: Roman Catholic Cardinal Bernard Law resigns as archbishop of Boston amidst growing criticism for allegedly protecting priests accused of abusing minors.
2003: Deposed Iraqi Pres. Saddam Hussein is captured by U.S. forces in an underground hideout 9 miles from his hometown of Tikrit.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Dec. 13" »

December 12, 2007

This Day In History: Dec. 12

This Day in History

1787: Pennsylvania enters the Union as the second state.
1870: Joseph Rainey of South Carolina is sworn in, becoming the first black in the U.S. House of Representatives.
1913: Italian authorities announce that the Mona Lisa, stolen from the Louvre in Paris in 1911, has been recovered.
1917: Father Edward Flanagan founds Boys Town in Omaha, NE.
1963: Kenya's independence is proclaimed.
1985: Pres. Ronald Reagan signs the Gramm-Rudman bill to reduce the federal budget deficit. An Arrow Air charter airplane crashes after taking off from Gander, Newfoundland, killing 256 people, including 248 American soldiers.:
2000: The Supreme Court ends the 5-week U.S. presidential election deadlock by voting 5-4 to block further recounts in the contested Florida election, giving the election to Republican George W. Bush over Democrat Al Gore.
2001: Prosecutors charge French citizen Zacarias Moussaoui in connection with the terrorist attacks of September 11 .
2002: The European Union opens its doors to 10 new members — Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta — who are to join in 2004.
2003: Liberal Party leader Paul Martin becomes Canada's 21st prime minister.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Dec. 12" »

December 11, 2007

This Day In History: Dec. 11

This Day in History

1816: Indiana is admitted to the Union as the 19th state.
1936: Britain's King Edward VIII abdicates so that he can marry twice-divorced American Wallis Warfield Simpson.
1941: The United States declares war on Germany and Italy.
1946: UNICEF is established by the UN General Assembly.
1997: Representatives of more than 150 countries, at a global warming summit in Kyoto, Japan, approve an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Dec. 11" »

December 6, 2007

This Day In History: Dec. 6

This Day in History

1712: The last issue of the Spectator, an influential 18th-century journal written by English essayists Sir Richard Steele and Joseph Addison, appears.
1790: Philadelphia becomes the U.S. capital, succeeding New York City. (It remains the nation's capital until Washington, D.C., takes on the function in 1800.)
1865: The 13th Amendment is ratified, abolishing slavery.
1917: Much of Halifax, Nova Scotia, is destroyed by a tidal wave caused when 2 ships, 1 loaded with explosives, collide in Halifax Harbor.
1969: A free rock concert at the Altamont Speedway in Livermore, CA, ends with the fatal stabbing of a fan by a member of Hell's Angels, who were hired as security guards.
1973: Gerald Ford is sworn in as vice president, following the resignation of Spiro Agnew.
1997: In a runoff election, Lee Brown is elected the first black mayor of Houston, TX.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Dec. 6" »

This Day In History: Dec. 6

This Day in History

1712: The last issue of the Spectator, an influential 18th-century journal written by English essayists Sir Richard Steele and Joseph Addison, appears.
1790: Philadelphia becomes the U.S. capital, succeeding New York City. (It remains the nation's capital until Washington, D.C., takes on the function in 1800.)
1865: The 13th Amendment is ratified, abolishing slavery.
1917: Much of Halifax, Nova Scotia, is destroyed by a tidal wave caused when 2 ships, 1 loaded with explosives, collide in Halifax Harbor.
1969: A free rock concert at the Altamont Speedway in Livermore, CA, ends with the fatal stabbing of a fan by a member of Hell's Angels, who were hired as security guards.
1973: Gerald Ford is sworn in as vice president, following the resignation of Spiro Agnew.
1997: In a runoff election, Lee Brown is elected the first black mayor of Houston, TX.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Dec. 6" »

December 5, 2007

This Day In History: Dec. 5

This Day in History

1492: Christopher Columbus, on his first voyage to the New World, lands on the island of Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic).
1775: The first Phi Beta Kappa chapter is founded, at the College of William and Mary.
1933: Prohibition ends with the ratification of the 21st Amendment, repealing the 18th Amendment.
1955: The AFL-CIO is created by the merger of the nation's 2 largest labor organizations, the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations.
1978: The U.S. spacecraft Pioneer Venus 1 reaches Venus and begins mapping its surface.
1988: Evangelist Jim Bakker and a top aide are indicted for defrauding contributors to his PTL ministry.
1994: The START I Treaty, reducing the number of nuclear warheads held by the U.S. and the USSR by about 25 percent, comes into force.
1996: Pres. Bill Clinton announces his choice of Madeleine Albright as secretary of state, making her the highest-ranking woman government official in U.S. history.
2003: A Chechen suicide bomber kills 45 and injures more than 150 on a commuter train in Yessentuki, Russia.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Dec. 5" »

December 4, 2007

This Day In History: Dec. 4

This Day in History

1783: Gen. George Washington bids farewell to his officers at Fraunces Tavern in New York City.
1961: Floyd Patterson retains the world heavyweight boxing title by knocking out Tom McNeeley.
1991: Journalist Terry Anderson becomes the last U.S. hostage freed in Lebanon.
1997: Representatives of 121 nations conclude a meeting in Ottawa, Canada at which they sign a treaty banning the use and manufacture of land mines.
2001: The Israeli military advances to within 200 yards of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat's Ramallah headquarters two days after a suicide bomber killed himself and 15 others in Haifa.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Dec. 4" »

December 3, 2007

This Day In History: Dec. 3

This Day in History

1818: Illinois is admitted to the Union as the 21st state.
1901: U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt outlines a number of measures designed to secure a greater measure of social justice in his first message to Congress.
1967: Dr. Christiaan Barnard performs the first successful heart transplant in Cape Town, South Africa.
1971: India intervenes militarily to end Pakistan's attempt to keep West Pakistan (now Bangladesh ) from becoming independent.
1973: The unmanned spacecraft Pioneer 10 passes Jupiter.
1984: Deadly gas leaks from a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, killing more than 2,000 people and injuring 200,000.
1992: The UN Security Council votes to send troops to Somalia, stricken by famine.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Dec. 3" »

December 1, 2007

This Day In History: Dec. 1

This Day in History

1918: U.S. and British troops begin occupying Germany following the end of World War I.
1933: In Germany, a law is enacted by which the Nazi party is "indissolubly joined to the state."
1943: The U.S. government releases a joint communiqué signed by U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt, British prime minister Winston Churchill, and Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek, in which they declare the determination of their governments to prosecute the war until Japan surrenders unconditionally. Gasoline rationing begins in the United States.
1955: Rosa Parks refuses to give her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery, AL. She is arrested, triggering boycotts against racial segregation.
1957: After years of political turmoil in Colombia, a plebiscite approves the plan of the Liberal and Conservative parties to share all government offices equally for 12 years.
1959: Twelve nations sign a treaty to make Antarctica a scientific preserve free of military activity.
1997: Representatives of more than 150 nations begin meeting in Kyoto, Japan, to consider a treaty limiting the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
2000: Vicente Fox Quesada, a conservative reformer, is inaugurated as president in Mexico, ending more than seven decades of rule by the PRI party.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Dec. 1" »

November 30, 2007

This Day In History: Nov. 30

This Day in History

1782: Provisional articles of peace are signed in Paris between Britain and the United States, under which Britain recognizes U.S. independence.
1864: During the Civil War, the Confederates suffer a costly defeat in the Battle of Franklin, TN.
1939: The Soviet Union invades Finland.
1959: Boxer Floyd Patterson knocks out Archie Moore to take the WBA heavyweight crown.
1966: Barbados, an island in the West Indies, becomes independent.
1993: The Brady Bill, a major gun-control measure, is signed into law by Pres. Bill Clinton.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Nov. 30" »

March 16, 2008

Edward's Untimely Death Series: Entry #11

jvf.jpgOur nation's first secretary of defense, James V. Forrestal, took office on September 17, 1947, and was sworn into office by President Harry Truman as the Cold War was beginning.

Born February 15, 1892 in Matteawan (now Beacon), NY, Forrestal attended Dartmouth, and later Princeton, but left prior to completing his degree. He served as a naval flier during World War I. In 1916, Forrestal joined an investment banking house as a bond salesman, and over the next 24 years he rose in the company becoming a partner, vice president, and then president in 1937.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Forrestal (who, following World War I had worked as a publicist for Democratic candidates), a special administrative assistant in 1940, and six weeks later appointed him undersecretary of the navy, where he headed naval procurement and production. Forrestal became secretary of the navy, following the death of his boss Frank Knox in 1944, guiding the department in the last year of the war, and after the Japanese surrender. Although he fought the unification of the Army and Navy departments, he helped shape the National Security Act of 1947, an act that weakened what would later be the department of defense (August 1949), which ironically he became head of.

During his period as secretary of defense, the Soviet Union blocked access to West Berlin, necessitating the Berlin Airlift, Communist governments took over China and Czechoslovakia, and war broke out between Arab and Israeli armies following the proclamation of the Israeli state in 1948. Internally, there were many problems with President Truman, over budgets and power, and Truman forced Forrestal to resign on March 28, 1949. Suffering physical and mental exhaustion, he entered Bethesda Naval Hospital, and leapt to his death from a 16th-floor window on May 22. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with military honors.

November 30, 2007

Quote Check: Mark Twain Birthday Edition


November 30 is the anniversary of the 1835 birth of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known pseudonymously as the celebrated writer and humorist Mark Twain. (Fun fact: Mark Twain was Clemens's second pen name. I personally prefer his first: Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass.)

Twain was one of the most quoted—and misquoted—personalities in American history (second only to Abraham Lincoln, according to Ralph Keyes, author of The Quote Verifier). Among the aphorisms misattributed to Twain: "Golf is a good walk spoiled"; "It is very easy to give up smoking. I've done it hundreds of times"; and "It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt."

However, Twain can be properly credited with saying, "Man is the only animal who blushes. Or needs to," and "Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest."

Samuel Clemens died in 1910; both his birth and death were marked by the appearance of Halley's Comet, about which he said, as quoted in his 1909 biography:

"I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don't go out with Halley's Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: "Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together."

There are quite a few great Mark Twain resources on the web; one of the best, listed below, was created in tandem with the Ken Burns film and includes links to video and audio as well as a ton of letters and other primary sources.

Mark Twain Scrapbook

The Second Oldest Profession?

0711oldestprofession.jpgWhile doing some recent fact checking, I came across a quote attributed to Ronald Reagan:
"It's been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first."

It seemed to be a favorite quip for Reagan, who said some version of it on several occasions since at least 1974 when he was governor of California. But I also found other politicians, including President Jimmy Carter, saying it. Curious about how long the joke had been around, I did a search through some newspaper archives for the phrase "second oldest profession." It seems that writers had been placing various jobs in that dubious position for years, but politics wasn't one of them.

    Nominees for the Second Oldest Profession
  • Actors - "Hobnobbing in Hollywood with Grace Kingsley" Los Angeles Times, Nov 23, 1932
  • Casino Gambling - "Mont Blanc of Monte Carlo; Count Corti Tells the Story of the Principality of Chance" The Washington Post, Mar 17, 1935
  • Con Men - "Berliners, Who Fell for Hitler, Still Victims of 'Con' Men" The Washington Post, Mar 15, 1952
  • Counterfeiting - "Counterfeiting in America Started With Fake Wampum" Los Angeles Times, Apr 18, 1968
  • Gigolos - "Exit the Gigolo! His Taking Ways Remove Glamour; Paris 'Tribe' Vanishing; Too Light Fingered" Chicago Daily Tribune, Mar 5, 1932
  • Glassmaking - "Lenox Unveils Modern Glassmaking Facility With Old Techniques" Wall Street Journal, Nov 20, 1970
  • Interpreters - "Meet the Second Oldest Profession" The Washington Post, Sep 1, 1964
  • Journalism - a novel by Robert Sylvester, published 1950
  • Moving Companies - "New Holding Company on the Move" Los Angeles Times, Feb 12, 1969
  • Pharmacists - "The Second Oldest Profession" Chicago Daily Tribune, Oct 10, 1959 (mentioned again in the New York Times, Nov 17, 1963)
  • Pick Pocketing - "Bookkeepers Pen Death of Pickpockets" Chicago Daily Tribune, Aug 25, 1958
  • Pimpery - "The Bookshelf; 'Pimpery'" The Chicago Defender, Apr 18, 1931
  • Piracy - "Prominent in a Remarkable Exhibition of Pirate Lore in the Grolier Club of New York" The Washington Post, Nov 21, 1915.
  • Press Agents - "R. Maney [Dick Maney], Man and Legend" New York Times, Feb 23, 1941
  • Prostitutes (Confusing, yes. According to Yale anthropologist Ralph Linton in The Tree of Culture, Medicine Men were the first professionals.)
  • Spying - "British Premier Backs U.S. in Spy Incident" Los Angeles Times, May 13, 1960
  • Quackery aka Fake Medicine - "Quick-Buck Quacks Are Prospering More Than Ever" The Washington Post, Oct 7, 1961

As for politics, interestingly, no results turned up earlier than the 1970s and The Consent of the Governed, and Other Deceits (1971), written by New York Times political analyst Arthur Krock, has a chapter titled "The Second Oldest Profession."

Street walkers, etched by B. Smith, from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog

November 29, 2007

This Day In History: Nov. 29

This Day in History

1916: U.S. Marines occupy the Dominican Republic.
1929: Richard E. Byrd and Brent Balchen pilot the first flight over the South Pole.
1945: The Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia is declared by the Communist-dominated constituent assembly, abolishing the monarchy.
1947: The partition of Palestine is approved by the United Nations.
1963: Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson establishes the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination of Pres. John F. Kennedy and the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald.
1989: Communist rule ends in Czechoslovakia when parliament votes unanimously to end the Communist Party's guaranteed leading role.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Nov. 29" »

November 28, 2007

This Day In History: Nov. 28

This Day in History

1520: Portuguese mariner Ferdinand Magellan finds the westward route to Asia from Europe by rounding South America and entering the Pacific.
1912: Albanian patriots led by Ismail Qemal proclaim the country's independence.
1916: During World War I, the first German airplane raid on London takes place.
1943: The Tehran Conference begins in Iran, with Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin discussing plans for the Allied invasion of Europe.
1960: Mauritania becomes independent.
1964: The unmanned Mariner 4 mission to Mars is launched from Cape Kennedy.
1995: Pres. Bill Clinton signs a measure repealing the federal 55-mph speed limit.
1995: British Prime Min. John Major and Irish Prime Min. John Bruton announce an agreement aimed at restarting talks on the future of Northern Ireland.
2000: After three months of the latest Palestinian intifada, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak dissolves the government and calls for new elections.
2001: Enron Corp., the largest U.S. energy trading company, collapses after smaller rival Dynegy backs out of a planned merger; employees and investors will lose billions of dollars as a result. The collapse is the first in a series of huge corporate scandals.
2002: 10 Kenyans and 3 Israelis are killed as three suicide bombers attack an Israeli-owned hotel near Mombasa, minutes after assailants with shoulder-fired missiles narrowly miss an Israeli jumbo-jet leaving the Mombasa airport.
2005: The government of Canadian Prime Min. Paul Martin is ousted by a no-confidence vote in the House of Commons.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Nov. 28" »

November 27, 2007

This Day In History: Nov. 27

This Day in History

1095: The Crusades begin formally when Pope Urban II preaches a sermon in Clermont-Ferrand, France outlining his plan for a Crusade and calling on his listeners to join its ranks.
1919: The Treaty of Neuilly is signed between the Allies of World War I and defeated Bulgaria, which gives up territories to Yugoslavia, Greece, and Romania.
1965: Thousands of protesters demanding peace in Vietnam march in Washington, D.C.
1989: Millions of antigovernment protesters go on strike in Czechoslovakia, demanding free elections.
1991: As a result of a record number of savings and loan failures, Congress passes legislation authorizing $70 billion in additional borrowing authority for the FDIC.
1995: Pres. Bill Clinton asks for congressional and public support for the deployment of 20,000 U.S. troops in Bosnia.
2001: U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announces that more than 1,200 people — mostly of Middle Eastern descent — have been detained in the U.S. since the terrorist attacks of September 11th and that 650 are still in custody.
2002: U.N. teams begin inspections in Iraq seeking evidence of a program of weapons of mass destruction.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Nov. 27" »

November 26, 2007

This Day In History: Nov. 26

This Day in History

1789: The U.S. celebrates Thanksgiving Day for the first time.
1917: The new Bolshevik government in Russia abolishes all class privileges.
1943: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Chiang Kai-shek, and Winston Churchill conclude a meeting in Cairo to plan their wartime strategy against Japan.
1950: The Chinese Communists officially enter the Korean War.
1979: As a result of civil war between government troops and Muslim rebels, some 300,000 Afghan refugees flee to Pakistan.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Nov. 26" »

November 23, 2007

This Day In History: Nov. 23

This Day in History

1863: The three-day Battle of Chattanooga, an engagement of the Civil War, begins. Union forces under Ulysses S. Grant dislodge the Confederate defenders and force them into a disorderly retreat.
1919: The first play-by-play of a football game is broadcast on the radio.
1943: During World War II, U.S. Marines take control of the Gilbert Islands from the Japanese after fierce fighting.
1971: China's seat in the Security Council, formerly held by Taiwan, is transferred to the People's Republic of China.
1980: Some 3,000 die when a violent earthquake strikes southern Italy.
1981: Many federal offices are shut down temporarily when Pres. Ronald Reagan vetoes a bill to finance government operations.
2001: The UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia charges former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic with genocide for his role in the 1992-95 conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
2005: Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is confirmed as the winner of the Liberian presidential elections, becoming the first woman to be elected as a head of state in modern Africa.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Nov. 23" »

November 22, 2007

This Day In History: Nov. 22

This Day in History

1497: Explorer Vasco da Gama rounds the Cape of Good Hope in Africa.
1917: The National Hockey League is founded in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
1943: At the World War II Cairo Conference held November 22-26 in Cairo, Egypt, Allied governments meet to define their war aims with respect to Japan.
1963: Pres. John F. Kennedy is assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, TX. Vice Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in as president.
1967: The UN Security Council unanimously approves Resolution 242, proposing in essence that Israel withdraw from the occupied territories in return for recognition of its independence by the Arab states and the establishment of secure borders.
1975: Juan Carlos I becomes king of Spain, days after the death of Francisco Franco.
1988: After years of secrecy, the Air Force displays the B-2 Stealth bomber.
1990: British Prime Min. Margaret Thatcher resigns.
2005: The German Parliament elects Angela Merkel, leader of the Christian Democratic Party, as chancellor of Germany.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Nov. 22" »

November 21, 2007

Talking Turkey

turkey.jpg According to the White House, this Thanksgiving marks the 60th anniversary of the grand presidential tradition of pardoning a turkey. The White House's Thanksgiving website explains that the first turkey pardoning took place in 1947, when Harry Truman accepted the first National Thanksgiving Turkey. Not to quibble with the White House's website, which has a photo gallery of Turkey pardons over the years (a Kennedy turkey has a sign around its neck that reads "Good Eating, Mr. President!"), but they may want to do a little more homework.

According to the Truman Library, the Truman photo that the White House offers as proof-of-pardon dates to Dec. 15, 1947—well after Thanksgiving—and the library has "found no documents, speeches, newspaper clippings, photographs, or other contemporary records in our holdings which refer to Truman pardoning a turkey that he received as a gift in 1947, or at any other time during his Presidency."

I just hope, for my own amusement's sake, that the White House accurately reported this year's turkey's fate following its pardon: "After the presentation, the turkey will be flown first class to Disney World in Orlando, where he will be the grand marshal of 'Disney's Thanksgiving Day Parade.' After the parade, guests will be able to visit the bird in the backyard of Mickey's Country House in Magic Kingdom Park."

White House Thanksgiving
The Annual Pardoning of the Thanksgiving Turkey photo gallery
Truman Library

This Day In History: Nov. 21

This Day in History

1620: The Pilgrims sign the Mayflower Compact.
1783: In Paris, Frenchmen Jean François Pilâtre de Rozier and Marquis François Laurent d'Arlandes make the first successful balloon ascent.
1789: North Carolina entered the Union as the 12th of the 13 original states.
1964: The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, at the time the world's longest suspension bridge, opens in New York.
1995: After talks outside Dayton, OH, the warring parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina reach agreement to end their conflict. The Dow Jones industrial average passes 5,000 for the first time.
2001: An elderly Connecticut woman mysteriously dies of inhalation anthrax, the fifth fatality in an outbreak that began in early October.
2005: Israeli Prime Min. Ariel Sharon quits the Likud Party and forms a new political party, National Responsibility.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Nov. 21" »

November 20, 2007

This Day In History: Nov. 20

This Day in History

1789: New Jersey becomes the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights.
1815: In the aftermath of Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo, the 1815 Treaty of Paris, a treaty of alliance, is signed by France's opponents: Great Britain, Austria, Russia, and Prussia.
1945: The Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals begin in Germany.
1947: Britain's Princess Elizabeth, heir to the throne, marries Philip Mountbatten.
1950: In the Korean War, U.S. forces reach the China border.
1975: Francisco Franco, authoritarian leader of Spain from 1939 to 1975, dies in Madrid.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Nov. 20" »

November 16, 2007

This Day In History: Nov. 16

This Day in History

1907: Oklahoma is admitted to the Union as the 46th state.
1918: The Hungarian Democratic Republic is established in the aftermath of World War I and the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian empire.
1933: The United States and the Soviet Union begin diplomatic relations.
1969: The press reports the 1968 massacre of hundreds of Vietnamese civilians in the village of My Lai during the Vietnam War.
1973: Pres. Richard Nixon signs a bill to authorize construction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Nov. 16" »

November 15, 2007

This Day In History: Nov. 15

This Day in History

1777: The Continental Congress adopts the Articles of Confederation.
1864: During the Civil War, Union general William Tecumseh Sherman burns nearly the entire city of Atlanta, Georgia before beginning his march to the sea.
1889: In Brazil, a bloodless revolution forces the banishment of the emperor and the creation of a republic.
1907: The first successful daily comic strip, Mr. A. Mutt by Bud Fisher (later retitled Mutt and Jeff), appears in the San Francisco Chronicle.
1920: The first meeting of the League of Nations is held in Geneva, Switzerland with 42 nations represented.
1945: A bipartisan congressional committee to determine whether negligence had contributed to the success of the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor opens its investigation.
1956: The first UN peacekeeping forces (UNEF) ever deployed arrive in Egypt to supervise agreements made to resolve the Suez crisis.
1935: The Philippines' commonwealth status, a stage on the way to full independence, is formally established with Manuel Luis Quezon y Molina as the first president.
1943: During World War II, the United States decisively wins the Battle of Guadalcanal over the Japanese.
1969: Anti-Vietnam War demonstrations reach a peak with 250,000 protesters marching on Washington, D.C.
1984: Baby Fae, born with a severe heart defect, dies weeks after receiving a baboon heart transplant.
1999: The United States and China sign a landmark pact liberalizing their trade relations.
2003: Terrorists using truck bombs strike two synagogues in Istanbul, Turkey, killing more than two dozen and wounding at least 250.

December 25, 2007

A Remembrance of Christmas past

Dece 1983.pngWhile those schmaltzy Hallmark commercials can produce a tear or two during the holidays, one photograph that consistently opens my tear ducts (from laughter) is the 1983 picture of first lady Nancy Reagan sitting on Mr. T's lap. Oh Nancy, what were you thinking?

What brought these two superstars together was their common anti-drug stance. Reagan inaugurated the "Just Say No" to drugs campaign in the 1980s, and Mr. T even recorded a song titled"No Dope No Drugs" in 1984.

Where are they now? Nancy Reagan, 87, lives in Bel Air, California, and is a vocal supporter of stem cell research. Mr. T (Lawrence Tero), formerly of The A-Team, could be found on the 2006 TV Land reality show I Pity the Fool, in which T traveled around America giving advice and solving problems.

November 26, 2007

Abe, is that you?

mumler_lincoln_small.jpgPoor Mary Todd Lincoln! The maligned widow of our 16th president was dragged over the coals in life, and has suffered much the same since her death 125 years ago.

A well educated Southerner, she was known for her vivaciousness, wit and spirited personality when she met the lowly lawyer Abraham Lincoln in 1839. Their marriage of 25 years produced four children, and proved to be volatile at times with Mary's high strung temperament. Mary's life was marked with many losses - starting with her mothers' death when she was 7, the death of her second born son Eddie in 1850, followed by beloved Willie in 1862. It was after Willie's death that Mary invited spiritualists into the White House so that she could attempt to communicate with her dead sons. At least eight séances were held, and Mary felt their presence in her life, writing to her sister that, "Willie lives. He comes to me every night and stands at the foot of the bed with the same sweet adorable smile he always has had. He does not always come alone. Little Eddie is sometimes with him..."

After seeing her husband assassinated before her eyes in 1865, Mary's life was shattered. She left the United States in 1868 and lived for two and a half years in Europe with her son Tad, who died at the age of 18, in 1871. In the 1870s Mary attended séances under assumed names, at which Abraham may or may not have "appeared." She was photographed by William Mumler, a "spirit photographer." Concerned about his mother's sometimes irrational behavior (and spending jags), Robert Lincoln, Mary's surviving son, petitioned the courts to declare her insane in 1875, and she was remanded to a Bellevue Place, private sanitarium for 3 months. Declared sane again in 1876, she spent many of her remaining years in France, never forgiving her son for his betrayal, and died in Springfield, Illinois, in July 1882.

November 14, 2007

This Day In History: Nov. 14

This Day in History

1885: Serbia declares war on Bulgaria.
1969: Apollo 12, the 2nd manned lunar mission, is launched.
1972: The Dow Jones industrial average closes above 1,000 for the first time.
1995: A budget impasse between Congress and Pres. Bill Clinton leads to a partial government shutdown.
1999: The UN imposes sanctions on Afghanistan after the country refuses to turn over suspected terrorist leader Osama bin Laden to the U.S. for prosecution.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Nov. 14" »

November 13, 2007

This Day In History: Nov. 13

This Day in History

1839: Abolitionists meeting in Warsaw, NY, form the Liberty Party and nominate James Birney for president.
1875: The first Harvard-Yale football game is played.
1956: The Supreme Court overturns Alabama laws requiring racial segregation on intrastate buses.
1966: Astronaut Buzz Aldrin takes a 5-hour space walk during the Gemini 12 mission.
1971: The unmanned space probe Mariner 9 enters orbit around Mars.
1982: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dedicated in Washington, D.C.
2001: Pres. George W. Bush signs an order allowing closed-door military tribunals for suspected terrorists. With Taliban resistance crumbling, Northern Alliance forces roll into the Afghan capital of Kabul. Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin and U.S. Pres. George W. Bush pledge to cut nuclear stockpiles by as much as two-thirds, to about 1,500 warheads each.
2002: Iraq reluctantly accepts weapons inspections mandated by the U.N. Security Council Nov. 8.

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November 12, 2007

Philadelphia's "Other" Must-See Sight

ud9r7787.gifWhile some visitors travel to Philadelphia—the cradle of American independence—to see the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and the new National Constitution Center, my last trip there in May brought me to the one place I'd always wanted to visit—the Mütter Museum. Located at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, this medical museum was founded as a resource for doctors and the public to learn about anatomy and human medical anomalies.

What kind of treasures am I talking about here? Presidential curiosity seekers will see the cancerous growth removed from Grover Cleveland's jaw in 1893 and a bone from the body of presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth, along with a plaster cast of Siamese twins Chang & Eng Bunker (1811-1874) as well as their liver, a five foot long human colon, a collection of 2,000 items that were swallowed and removed, and the skeleton of a 7' 6" man.

This museum is not for the faint at heart!

Photo: A mold of Siamese twins joined at the liver on display at the Mütter Museum. (The College of Physicians' Mütter Museum)

This Day In History: Nov. 12

This Day in History

1918: After Charles I, the emperor of Austria-Hungary, abdicates, Austria and Hungary are proclaimed republics.
1920: In the aftermath of World War I, territorial disputes between Italy and Yugoslavia are settled by the Treaty of Rapallo.
1921: The Washington Conference, an attempt to limit naval armaments, convenes in Washington, D.C.
1942: During World War II, the Battle of Guadalcanal begins.
1956: Tunisia is admitted to the United Nations.
1982: In the Soviet Union, Yuri Andropov is named general secretary of the Communist Party's Central Committee.
1997: Two Islamic militants are convicted in the 1993 bombing of New York's World Trade Center.
1999: A major earthquake, measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale, hits northwestern Turkey, claiming more than 700 lives.
2001: An American Airlines passenger jet crashes in Queens, NY, shortly after takeoff from New York's Kennedy Airport, killing all 260 on board and 5 in the residential neighborhood on the ground.
2003: A bombing outside an Italian police station in Nasiriya, Iraq, kills 32 and wounds more than 100.

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November 11, 2007

This Day In History: Nov. 11


This Day in History

1831: Nat Turner is hanged for leading a slave rebellion.
1889: Washington is admitted to the Union as the 42d state.
1918: At 11 A.M. (on the 11th day of the 11th month of the year), hostilities cease in World War I after the Germans sign an armistice at Compiègne, France.
1921: The first American unknown soldier is interred in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.
1965: In Rhodesia, the white government of Ian D. Smith declares independence from Great Britain.
1966: Gemini 12, the last Gemini space mission, is launched.
1975: Angola, a Portuguese colony, becomes independent.
1982: The U.S. space shuttle program's first operational mission takes place when Columbia deploys two commercial communications satellites.
2000: 155 skiers are killed in the Austrian Alps when a cable car catches fire inside Kitzsteinhorn mountain.
2001: Taiwan is formally admitted to the World Trade Organization, which China has officially joined the day before.

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November 10, 2007

This Day In History: Nov. 10

This Day in History

1775: A force of two battalions of marines is authorized by the Continental Congress.
1871: Explorer Henry Stanley finds the missing missionary David Livingstone in Africa.
1969: Sesame Street premieres on TV.
1970: The space probe Luna 17, launched by the Soviet Union, softlands an automated lunar-roving vehicle which relays television pictures and scientific data back to Earth.
1982: Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev dies.
1983: Microsoft releases its Windows computer operating system.
2001: Pres. George W. Bush announces a $1 billion aid package to Pakistan in return for the country's support in the war on terrorism.
2004: Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, who for 40 years had personified the struggle of the Palestinian people for statehood, dies in Paris, France.

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November 9, 2007

This Day In History: Nov. 9

This Day in History

1799: Napoleon Bonaparte and fellow conspirators seize power and establish a new regime in France.
1918: The German republic is proclaimed after Emperor William II abdicates and flees to the Netherlands.
1924: Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming and Miriam (Ma) Ferguson of Texas are elected the nation's first female governors.
1935: John L. Lewis founds the Congress of Industrial Organizations within the American Federation of Labor.
1938: During Kristallnacht, mobs in Germany destroy thousands of Jewish shops, homes, and synagogues.
1965: A massive electric power failure blacks out most of the northeastern United States and parts of 2 Canadian provinces.
1989: The Berlin Wall dividing East and West Germany is opened. Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping resigns his last post in the Communist Party.
2001: The Taliban stronghold of Mazar-e-Sharif falls to Northern Alliance forces in Afghanistan.
2005: Suicide bombers strike 3 hotels in Amman, Jordan, killing at least 57 bystanders and injured 300. Al-Qaeda operatives claim responsibility the next day.

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November 8, 2007

This Day In History: Nov. 8

This Day in History

1519: Hernán Cortés defeats the Aztecs under Montezuma in Mexico.
1837: Mount Holyoke College is founded as the first U.S. college only for women.
1861: The seizure of Confederate diplomats by a U.S. ship severely strains relations between the U.S. and Great Britain in the Trent Affair.
1864: Abraham Lincoln is reelected president, defeating George McClellan.
1889: Montana is admitted to the Union as the 41st state. The Bronx Zoo, one of the world's largest zoos, opens to the public.
1895: Physicist Wilhelm Roentgen discovers X-rays.
1923: In the so-called Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, Germany, Adolf Hitler unsuccessfully attempts to seize power with 600 armed storm troopers.
1932: Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected president for the first time, defeating incumbent Herbert Hoover.
1942: U.S. and British forces, led by Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, land in North Africa.
1960: John F. Kennedy is elected president, defeating Richard Nixon .
1988: George Bush is elected president, defeating Michael Dukakis.
2002: The UN Security Council votes 15-0 to give Iraq a "final opportunity" to comply with previous disarmament resolutions.
2003: A car bomb explodes in a residential section of Riyadh, the Saudi capital, killing 17 and wounding more than 120.
2005: The French government declares a state of emergency after rioting, mainly by young Muslims of North African descent, spreads through 300 cities and towns across the country.

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November 7, 2007

This Day In History: Nov. 7

This Day in History

1659: The Peace of the Pyrenees ends 24 years of warfare between France and Spain.
1811: In the Battle of Tippecanoe, William Henry Harrison defeats the Indians under the Prophet.
1837: American abolitionist Elijah Parish Lovejoy is shot and killed defending his printing presses against proslavery mobs in Alton, IL.
1916: Jeannette Rankin, from Montana, becomes the first woman ever elected to Congress.
1917: Bolshevik forces under Vladimir Lenin take power in Russia.
1944: Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected to a historic fourth term as president, defeating Thomas E. Dewey.
1967: The first black mayors of major U.S. cities are elected: Carl Stokes of Cleveland, OH, and Richard Hatcher of Gary, IN.
1972: Richard Nixon is reelected president, defeating George McGovern in a landslide.
1989: Douglas Wilder of Virginia is elected the nation's first black governor, and David Dinkins is elected New York City's first black mayor.
2000: For the first time in more than a century, the U.S. presidential election is undecided at the end of Election Day, with Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush awaiting the results from Florida, Oregon, and New Mexico.
2004: U.S. soldiers and marines, supported by Iraqi soldiers, launch a major ground offensive against insurgents in Fallujah, Iraq.

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November 6, 2007

This Day In History: Nov. 6

This Day in History

1860: Abraham Lincoln is elected president in a four-way race.
1861: The Confederacy holds its first general elections under a new constitution. Jefferson Davis is elected president and Alexander Hamilton Stephens vice-president.
1869: The first modern football game is played, with Rutgers defeating Princeton, 6-4.
1941: The United States extends lend-lease aid to the Soviet Union.
1947: Meet the Press premieres on TV.
1984: Ronald Reagan is reelected president over Walter Mondale in a landslide, taking 49 states.
1986: The press reports that to help gain the release of U.S. hostages in Lebanon, the United States has sent military equipment to Iran.
1999: In a national referendum, Australian voters choose, 55%-45%, to retain the British monarch as head of state.

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November 5, 2007

This Day In History: Nov. 5

This Day in History

1605: The Gunpowder Plot, a conspiracy to kill James I, king of England, as well as the Lords and the Commons at the opening of Parliament, fails when Guy Fawkes is caught and confesses.
1688: William of Orange, invited by English nobles to invade England and overthrow James II, lands at Torbay with an army of 15,000 men.
1912: Woodrow Wilson is elected president over Theodore Roosevelt and incumbent William Howard Taft.
1914: Great Britain and France declare war on Turkey during World War I.
1940: Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected to an unprecedented 3rd term as president, defeating Wendell Wilkie.
1968: Richard Nixon is elected president over Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace.
1989: The Civil Rights Memorial, designed by Maya Lin based on a passage from Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I have a dream" speech, is dedicated in Montgomery, AL.
1996: Bill Clinton is reelected president, defeating Bob Dole and Ross Perot.
2002: U.S. Republicans, defying the historical trend of the president's party losing seats in the midterm elections, increase their margin in the U.S. House of Representatives and narrowly recapture the Senate. SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt resigns.:

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November 2, 2007

This Day In History: Nov. 2

This Day in History

1642: In the Second Battle of Breitenfeld, an engagement of the Thirty Years' War, a Swedish army defeats the imperial army of the Holy Roman Empire near Breitenfeld, Saxony (now a suburb of Leipzig, Germany).
1772: Boston establishes the first of the revolutionary Committees of Correspondence, colonial groups organized prior to the American Revolution to mobilize public opinion and coordinate patriotic actions against Great Britain.
1795: A new, more conservative phase of the French Revolution begins with the government of the Directory replacing the National Convention.
1889: North Dakota and South Dakota are admitted to the Union as the 39th and 40th states.
1917: Britain issues the Balfour Declaration, proclaiming its intention to establish a Jewish state in Palestine.
1947: Howard Hughes flies his wooden Spruce Goose airplane for the only time.
1948: Harry S. Truman is reelected president in a historic upset over Thomas E. Dewey.
1962: Pres. John F.Kennedy announces that Soviet missile bases in Cuba are being dismantled—the end of a crisis that had threatened to ignite a full-scale war between superpowers.
1964: Prince Faisal, who has been consolidating his power and introducing major social and economic reforms, replaces Saud as king of Saudi Arabia.
1978: Dominica, an island in the West Indies, attains independence.
1983: Pres. Ronald Reagan signs a bill making the third Monday in January a federal holiday to mark the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr.
2001: The Bush administration announces that the assets of 22 known terrorist groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, are subject to seizure.
2003: Sixteen U.S. soldiers die and 20 are wounded when insurgents shoot down a Chinook helicopter near Falluja, Iraq. The U.S. Episcopal Church consecrates Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, its first openly gay bishop.
2004: President George W. Bush is reelected, defeating his Democratic opponent, Sen. John Kerry.

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November 1, 2007

This Day In History: Nov. 1

This Day in History

1776: The Mission of San Juan Capistrano is founded in California.
1848: The Boston Female Medical School opens, the first such school for women.
1914: In a World War I naval engagement off the coast of Chile, German naval forces defeat the British.
1922: In Turkey, the sultanate is abolished.
1950: Two Puerto Rican nationalists fail in their attempted assassination of Pres. Harry Truman.
1952: The United States explodes the first hydrogen bomb, in the Marshall Islands.
1954: The organization later known as the National Liberation Front (FLN) begins its struggle against France for Algerian independence.
1956: In India, the state of Punjab is formed by merging several provinces.
1959: Montreal Canadiens goalie Jacques Plante invents and wears the first hockey mask.
1960: The Benelux Economic Union, a trading agreement among Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, comes into existence.
1963: In South Vietnam, a military coup overthrows the government of Ngo Dinh Diem with tacit U.S. approval.
1981: Antigua and Barbuda, a group of islands in the West Indies, becomes independent.
1993: The European Union (EU), a supranational organization, is founded as the successor to the European Community.
1995: U.S.-sponsored peace talks aiming to end the war in Bosnia begin in Dayton, Ohio.
1998: Digital terrestrial television broadcast service begins.
2002: A U.S. district judge approves, with minor amendments, the year-old settlement of a 1998 antitrust suit against Microsoft by the Justice Department and 18 states.

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October 31, 2007

This Day In History: Oct. 31

This Day in History

1517: Martin Luther nails his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg church, beginning the Reformation in Germany.
1864: Nevada is admitted to the Union.
1941: South Dakota's Mount Rushmore National Memorial is completed.
1968: President Lyndon Johnson announces that the United States will stop all bombing of North Vietnam.
1984: Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated by Sikh members of her bodyguard and is succeeded by her son Rajiv.
1992: Pope John Paul II declares that the Roman Catholic Church was wrong in 1633 when it condemned Galileo for arguing that the earth goes around the sun.
1999: An EgyptAir jetliner en route from New York to Cairo, Egypt plunges into the Atlantic shortly after takeoff, killing all 217 people on board.
2001: A New York City hospital worker dies of pulmonary anthrax, the fourth death in the anthrax outbreak.

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October 30, 2007

Aliens Use Death Rays (Again)

0710toasterfire.jpgOn Oct. 30, 1938, the Associated Press sent a notice to all of its editors on the newswire:
"Queries to newspapers from radio listeners throughout the United States tonight, regarding a reported meteor fall which killed a number of New Jerseyites, are the result of a studio dramatization."

Of course, the meteor carrying Martians with flame-shooting guns and poisonous gas was just Orson Welles's War of the Worlds broadcast. Old history from the time of cure-all elixirs and eugenics. Right?

Well, maybe not. The major Italian magazine L'espresso ran an article on Friday (in Italian, "E.T. Speaks Sicilian") that aliens may have caused hundreds of unplugged household appliances to burst into flames in northern Sicily back in 2004. It cited a leaked interim report by the Italian government that either a secret military test or alien experiments caused a brief electromagnetic emission between 12 and 15 gigawatts.

The Cabinet of Wonders delves into British newspaper reports for an answer.

Without a real report it's pointless to speculate about the source of this event. To add a little solid science to this entry I should mention that electromagnetic waves from solar superstorms have been known to cause problems with electric grids, a phenomena we briefly covered on page 302 of the 2007 World Almanac.

Solar Storms and Their Human Impacts (NASA)
War of the Worlds broadcast (Internet Archive)

Flickr photo by The Redbird

This Day In History: Oct. 30

This Day in History

1905: Tsar Nicholas II issues the October Manifesto in St. Petersburg, giving Russia a constitution, legislature, prime minister, and civil liberties.
1938: Orson Welles causes a nationwide scare with his radio broadcast of a fictitious Martian invasion in War of the Worlds.
1941: The U.S. destroyer Reuben James is torpedoed and sunk off the coast of Iceland.
1973: The House Judiciary Committee begins deliberating on procedures for the impeachment of President Richard Nixon.
1995: In a referendum, Quebec voters narrowly elect not to secede from Canada.

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October 29, 2007

This Day In History: Oct. 29

This Day in History

1966: The National Organization for Women is founded.
1969: The Supreme Court rules, in Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education, that there be no delay in ending school desegregation.
1998: At age 77, Senator John Glenn returns to space aboard the space shuttle Discovery.
1998: Hurricane Mitch strikes Central America, killing at least 10,000 people.

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October 28, 2007

This Day In History: Oct. 28

This Day in History

1636: Harvard College is founded, the oldest institution of higher education in the United States.
1776: In the Battle of White Plains, an engagement of the American Revolution, the British miss the chance to destroy the Continental Army and win the war in a single battle.
1886: The Statue of Liberty is dedicated by President Grover Cleveland.
1918: The republic of Czechoslovakia is founded.
1919: The Volstead Act is enacted to enforce the 18th Amendment on Prohibition.
1962: President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev agree on a formula to end the Cuban missile crisis.
1997: After falling more than 554 points the previous day, the Dow Jones industrial average rebounds, surging a record 337.17 points in a single day.
2002: A U.S. diplomat, Lawrence Foley, is assassinated in Amman, Jordan.
2005: Vice President Richard Cheney's chief of staff I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby resigns after being indicted in an investigation into the leak of a CIA operative's identity to the press.

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October 27, 2007

This Day In History: Oct. 27

This Day in History

1492: Christopher Columbus and his crew land in Cuba.
1787: The first of the Federalist Papers appears in a New York newspaper.
1795: The Treaty of San Lorenzo is signed by the United States and Spain, providing for free navigation of the Mississippi River.
1904: The first part of the New York City subway system opens.
1997: The Dow Jones industrial average falls 554.26 points, its largest one-day decline to date.
2002: The Anaheim Angels win their first baseball championship by defeating the San Francisco Giants 4-1 in the seventh and final game of the World Series.
2003: In five coordinated suicide bombing attacks at least 35 people are killed in Baghdad, Iraq; more than 200 others are wounded.

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October 26, 2007

This Day In History: Oct. 26

This Day in History

1774: The First Continental Congress ends in Philadelphia with a call for civil disobedience against the British.
1795: The rule of the National Convention during the French Revolution comes to an end and is replaced the next day by the Directory.
1825: The Seneca Chief leaves Buffalo, NY, the first boat to travel through the Erie Canal.
1881: The "Gunfight at the OK Corral" takes place in Tombstone, AZ, with the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday facing the Clanton brothers.
1944: During World War II, the Battle of Leyte Gulf ends in the Philippines with the Japanese soundly defeated.
1949: President Harry Truman signs a bill raising the minimum wage to 75¢ an hour.
1951: In Britain, Winston Churchill is named prime minister for the 2nd time.
1967: The shah of Iran is formally crowned.
1976: Transkei becomes the first homeland to be made nominally independent of South Africa.
1979: The World Health Organization announces that smallpox has been eradicated.
2000: The New York Yankees defeat the New York Mets 4-2 in Game 5 of the World Series, wrapping up the first "Subway Series" in baseball since 1956.
2001: Anthrax spores are found in Washington, D.C. area mail centers serving the CIA, the Supreme Court, and Walter Reed Medical Center.
2001: In an apparent targeting error, U.S. planes bomb a Red Cross facility in Kabul, Afghanistan.
2002: Russian troops attack a theater which had been occupied Oct. 23 by 50 armed Chechen militants, killing all but 4 of the terrorists, along with 120 hostages, all but 2 from the effects of gas used by the Russian forces.

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October 25, 2007

This Day In History: Oct. 25

This Day in History

1854: The "Charge of the Light Brigade" takes place during the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War.
1971: The UN General Assembly votes to admit China and expel Taiwan.
1983: U.S. troops invade Grenada.
1993: The Liberal Party under Jean Chrétien overwhelmingly defeats the Conservatives in Canadian parliamentary elections.
2001: The day after it was passed by the House, the U.S. Senate passes, 98-1, an antiterrorism bill which some critics allege infringes on civil liberties.
2001: In a setback for the U.S.-led coalition, Taliban troops ambush and execute prominent Afghan opposition leader Abdul Haq.
2002: Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone, in the midst of a difficult reelection battle, is killed along with 7 others in a plane crash on a campaign trip.

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October 24, 2007

Mrs. President?


With Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) running for president in the 2008 elections, many wonder if she will become the first woman to lead the United States; but we may have already had a female leader from 1919-1921!

Edith Bolling Galt Wilson (1872-1961), a descendant of Pocahontas, was a well-to-do widow when she met the recently widowed president, Woodrow Wilson, in 1915. A swift romance followed, and they married by year's end, a scant 16 months after his first wife's death. Edith took on a public political role, and remained close by the president's side, keeping up to date on state matters. After Wilson's reelection in 1916, Edith did all she could to keep Wilson healthy under the tremendous strain caused by the U.S. entry into World War I. With the war's end in 1919, the Wilsons sailed to Europe for the international peace treaty agreements. Upon returning to the U.S., Wilson embarked on a cross-country train trip to drum up support for the League of Nations (the precursor to the United Nations), for which he needed the Senate's approval. At the end of September, he collapsed, and on October 2 he suffered a massive stroke which left him paralyzed on his left side and with difficulty in speaking. The tour was stopped, and the president was rushed back to the White House.

Wilson's doctor and secretary of state Robert Lansing wanted to inform the public of the president's critical situation, but Edith refused, and the public never learned that he had suffered a stroke or paralysis. Edith took control, and limited her husband's exposure to leaders of government, including his cabinet and vice president Thomas Marshall, and acted as a "steward" between them. With the president's health being her number one priority, Edith decided what matters of state would be presented to Woodrow. She later claimed in her memoirs that she never made any decisions, but this seems unlikely since she was the person who discussed matters with the president and relayed information back to interested parties. Many historians believe that her take on what had occurred was simply a matter of revisionism.

After leaving office in 1921, Edith continued caring for Woodrow until his death in 1924. For the remaining years of her life, she devoted her time to honoring her husband, and supporting democratic candidates. Her last public appearance was at the inaugural of President John F. Kennedy in January 1961, and she died 37 years to the day after her husbands' death.

This Day In History: Oct. 24

This Day in History

1260: France's Chartres Cathedral is consecrated.
1861: Pony Express service ends with the completion of the first transcontinental telegraph line.
1918: In the Battle of Vittorio Veneto in Italy (October 24-November 4), an engagement of World War I, the Allies completely shatter the Austrian army.
1929: On "Black Thursday," stock market prices collapse because of panic selling.
1940: The 40-hour workweek goes into effect under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.
1947: Muslim insurgents proclaim a "Provisional Government of Kashmir." Fighting quickly breaks out with India.
1949: The permanent United Nations headquarters is dedicated in New York.
2002: Police arrest former soldier John Allen Williams, 41, and John Cole Malvo, a Jamaican youth, in connection with a string of sniper killings in and around Washington D.C. which killed 10, wounded 3, and terrorized the region between Oct. 3 and Oct. 22.

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October 23, 2007

This Day In History: Oct. 23

This Day in History

1944: During World War II, the Battle of Leyte Gulf begins in the Philippines.
1956: Hungarians revolt against the Communist dictatorship.
1980: Alexei Kosygin resigns as head of the Soviet Council of Ministers because of ill health.
1983: A suicide bomb attack at U.S. Marine headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon, kills 241 American Marines and sailors, and an almost simultaneous blast nearby kills 58 members of the French peacekeeping force.
1987: The Senate rejects the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court.
1998: Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sign the Wye Accords peace agreement in Washington, D.C.

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October 22, 2007

This Day In History: Oct. 22

This Day in History

1836: Sam Houston is sworn in as president of the Republic of Texas.
1962: In a television address, President John F. Kennedy reveals that he has ordered a naval and air quarantine of Cuba because of a Soviet buildup of offensive missiles there.
1964: French writer/philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre refuses to accept the Nobel Prize for Literature.
1979: The Shah of Iran flies to New York for medical treatment, and the Ayatollah Khomeini demands his return.
1981: The U.S. government debt passes the $1 trillion mark for the first time.
2001: U.S. bombing raids reportedly claim 25-35 civilian victims in Afghanistan.

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October 17, 2007

This Day In History: Oct. 17

This Day in History

1777: During the American Revolution, English General John Burgoyne surrenders with 5,000 men at Saratoga, NY.
1854: Henry Bessemer receives a patent for his steel-making process.
1931: Gangster Al Capone is convicted of tax evasion.
1941: The U.S. destroyer Kearny is attacked by a submarine off the coast of Iceland while escorting British ships.
1989: A major earthquake strikes the San Francisco Bay area moments before a World Series game is to begin.
1998: Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet is arrested in London.
2001: The six U.S. House and Senate office buildings are closed for anthrax detection.
2003: The U.S. Congress approves $87 billion for military operations and reconstruction in Iraq.

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October 16, 2007

This Day In History: Oct. 16

This Day in History

1793: Marie Antoinette, the queen of France, is beheaded.
1853: The Crimean War begins when the Ottoman Empire declares war on Russia.
1859: Abolitionist John Brown seizes the U.S. Armory at Harpers Ferry, WV.
1949: The Greek civil war ends when the rebel leadership proclaims that military operations against the government have been halted.
1978: Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, archbishop of Krakow, Poland, is elected pope, taking the name of John Paul II.
1987: Toddler Jessica McClure is rescued after being trapped in a well for 2 days.
1995: Hundreds of thousands of African-American men meet in the Million Man March in Washington, D.C.
2002: The Bush administration announces that North Korea has acknowledged having a nuclear weapons program.
2003: The UN Security Council unanimously endorses the U.S.-led multinational force's control of Iraq.

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October 11, 2007

This Day In History: Oct. 11

This Day in History

1614: The New Netherlands Company is chartered.
1776: Benedict Arnold's Lake Champlain fleet is defeated at Valcour.
1890: The Daughters of the American Revolution is founded.
1962: Pope John XXIII convenes Vatican Council II in Rome.
1968: Apollo 7 is launched from Cape Kennedy, FL, with three astronauts aboard; it will orbit the earth 163 times before landing on October 22.
2002: A day after the House votes, 296-133, to authorize military force against Iraq; the Senate passes an identical measure, 77-23.

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October 10, 2007

This Day In History: Oct. 10

This Day in History

1845: The U.S. Naval Academy opens in Annapolis, MD.
1920: Baseball player Bill Wambsganss turns the first unassisted triple play in the World Series.
1928: Chiang Kai-shek is inaugurated as president of China in Nanking.
1935: Porgy and Bess opens in New York.
1973: Vice President Spiro Agnew resigns after pleading no contest to a charge of income tax evasion.
1986: Earthquakes in El Salvador kill more than 1,000 people.
1997: Major tobacco companies agree to a settlement in a class-action suit brought against them by 60,000 current and former flight attendants.

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October 8, 2007

This Day In History: Oct. 8

This Day in History

1871: The Great Chicago Fire begins.
1956: Don Larsen of the NY Yankees baseball team pitches a perfect game in the World Series.
1982: The U.S. unemployment rate reaches 10.1%, the highest since 1940. The Polish Parliament officially bans Solidarity and other labor groups.
1997: Kim Jong Il is officially named general secretary of the Communist Party in North Korea , a year after the death of his father, strongman Kim Il Sung.
1998: The U.S. House of Representatives, by a vote of 258-176, authorizes a House committee inquiry into the possible impeachment of President Bill Clinton.
2001: U.S. planes drop 37,000 meals into starvation-stricken areas of Afghanistan; it is the first in a series of daily food drops.
2005: A major earthquake strikes the northern reaches of South Asia, causing death and destruction in Pakistan, India and, to a lesser extent, Afghanistan. Tens of thousands of people are killed, and several million made homeless.

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October 7, 2007

This Day In History: Oct. 7

This Day in History

1765: The Stamp Act Congress begins in New York to protest the British Stamp Act.
1777: During the American Revolution, the Americans defeat General Burgoyne at Bemis Heights in the second battle of Saratoga.
1780: American militiamen defeat the British in the Battle of Kings Mountain, NC.
1944: The Dumbarton Oaks Conference ends in Washington, D.C., where representatives of the United States, Britain, China, and the Soviet Union have discussed the future United Nations.
1949: The German Democratic Republic (East Germany) is established under Soviet auspices.
1958: Martial law is declared in Pakistan, and Gen. Muhammad Ayub Khan soon takes power.
1985: Palestinian hijackers seize the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro at sea as it approaches Port Said, Egypt.
2001: U.S. and British jets strike targets in Afghanistan in the first military response to the terrorist attacks of September 11.
2002: In a speech in Cincinnati, Pres. George W. Bush says that only Iraqi Pres. Saddam Hussein's removal from power can end the confrontation with Iraq .
2003: California voters recall Gov. Gray Davis (D) from office and replace him with action film star-turned politician Arnold Schwarzenegger.

October 6, 2007

This Day In History: Oct. 6

This Day in History

1781: During the American Revolution, the siege of Lord Cornwallis begins in Virginia.
1849: 14 leaders of the Hungarian independence movement are executed by Austria, which imposes centralized rule.
1863: The first Turkish bath in the United States opens, in Brooklyn, NY.
1876: The American Library Association is founded in Philadelphia.
1927: The Jazz Singer with Al Jolson—the first successful film with prerecorded sound—opens in New York.
1973: Egypt and Syria attack Israel, beginning the Yom Kippur War.
1981: Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat is assassinated in Cairo during a military parade.
2000: Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic concedes defeat in the presidential election to opposition leader Vojislav Kostunica, ending the dictator's 13-year reign.
2001: The U.S. rejects an offer by Afghanistan's Taliban rulers to release eight Western aid workers on trial for trying to convert Muslims to Christianity, in exchange for the U.S. dropping preparations to attack Afghanistan.
2004: A report by the U.S.'s chief weapons inspector concludes that Iraq had "essentially destroyed" its unconventional weapons capability by the end of 1991, contradicting claims made by the U.S. and allies when Iraq was invaded in 2003.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Oct. 6" »

October 5, 2007

This Day In History: Oct. 5

This Day in History

1813: The United States, under General William Henry Harrison, wins the Battle of the Thames in Ontario, defeating the British and Indians. Shawnee Chief Tecumseh is killed.
1937: In a major foreign policy speech, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposes that aggressor nations be quarantined.
1947: President Harry S.Truman delivers the first televised presidential speech to the nation.
1960: An all-white referendum in the Union of South Africa decides that South Africa should become a republic.
1983: Solidarity leader Lech Walesa of Poland is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
2001: Robert Stevens, a photo editor for a Florida tabloid publisher, dies of inhalation anthrax; he is one of three of the firm's employees to be diagnosed with the disease, sparking an FBI investigation and a nationwide bioterrorism scare.
2003: Israeli warplanes bomb what the government calls terrorist training camps near Damascus, Syria, a day after a suicide bomber kills herself and 19 others in a Haifa restaurant.
2004: The supply of flu vaccine for the U.S. is cut in half when production is halted by British regulators amid contamination concerns.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Oct. 5" »

October 4, 2007

Wake Up With Whoopi, Sept 21 (OS) Edition

Coverdale BibleWith deadlines for the next edition of The World Almanac looming over us, it's tempting to switch back to the Julian calendar—which would make today's date September 21, and give us two extra weeks to work on the book... assuming, of course, that we could get the fine folks at the printing press to make the same switch.

Speaking of printing presses: Whoopi asked if I had any insight into a "fact of the day" about the first English Bible being printed in Switzerland—something that didn't make much sense to her. Why not just print in England? My guess, on the spot, had to with printing technology being more advanced at the time in Switzerland, yadda yadda yadda. But now that I listen back to that segment, and actually hear the date in question (1535) I realize my off-the-cuff speculation was way off the mark. By that time, Gutenberg's technology had spread all across Europe, so that wouldn't have been the reason... what would have been problematic was the English clergy's abhorrence of the idea of translating scripture into the vernacular. Myles Coverdale (who I think is the translator of the Bible in question) would have found a more hospitable climate in Switzerland for such an endeavor... or anyway, that's my second guess after a few more cups of coffee. Corrections to my shoddy half-remembered history of Bible-printing are most welcome, in the comments.

Anyway. It was still fun to talk with Whoopi & Crew about the transition from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, back in 1582 (or 1752, for Britain and the American colonies). Pope Gregory decreed that the day following Oct. 4, 1582, would not be Oct. 5, but rather Oct. 15—establishing what we now call the Gregorian calendar, and bringing the calendar year in line with the solar one. Fun stuff, if a little confusing. Enjoy....

Download: Wake Up With Whoopi, Oct. 4, 2007

This Day In History: Oct. 4

This Day in History

1669: Dutch artist Rembrandt van Rijn dies in Amsterdam at the age of 63.
1777: George Washington carries out an unsuccessful surprise attack on the British in the Battle of Germantown, an engagement of the American Revolution.
1830: Belgium becomes independent from the Netherlands.
1931: The "Dick Tracy" comic strip first appears.
1957: The Soviets launch Sputnik, the first successful artificial satellite to orbit the earth.
1993: Troops loyal to Russian President Boris Yeltsin attack the Parliament building, which is being held by anti-Yeltsin activists. Approximately 140 people are killed.
1997: Hundreds of thousands of Christian men gather in Washington, D.C. in a rally organized by the Promise Keepers.
2001: Pres. George W. Bush announces that the U.S. will try to get $320 million worth of humanitarian relief to the Afghan people.
2005: Hurricane Stan hits southern Mexico and generates heavy rainstorms in northern Central America, causing landslides and floods that kills far over 1,000 people.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Oct. 4" »

October 3, 2007

This Day In History: Oct. 3

This Day in History

1922: After being appointed by the governor of Georgia, Rebecca Felton becomes the nation's first female senator.
1935: The Italian invasion of Ethiopia begins.
1965: President Lyndon B. Johnson signs a bill abolishing the national immigration quota system.
1974: Frank Robinson becomes the first black manager in major league baseball, signing with the Cleveland Indians.
1990: East and West Germany are formally reunified.
1993: President Boris Yeltsin declares a state of emergency in Russia after activists opposed to him rampage in Moscow.
1995: A jury finds former football star O. J. Simpson not guilty of the 1994 murders of his former wife and her companion.

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October 2, 2007

This Day In History: Oct. 2

This Day in History

1889: The first Pan American Conference convenes in Washington, D.C.
1919: Woodrow Wilson suffers a severe stroke, which will virtually incapacitate him for the remainder of his presidency.
1950: The "Peanuts" comic strip makes its first appearance.
1958: Guinea gains its independence from France.
1967: Thurgood Marshall is sworn in, becoming the first African-American Supreme Court justice.
2001: NATO announces that there is "clear and compelling" evidence to link al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden to the September 11 terrorist attacks and to justify a joint military response.

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October 1, 2007

This Day In History: Oct. 1

This Day in History

1903: The first baseball World Series game in history is played; the Pittsburgh Pirates defeat the Boston Americans, 7-3.
1908: Henry Ford introduces the Model T car, priced at $850.
1949: The People's Republic of China is proclaimed under Mao Zedong.
1961: Roger Maris of the NY Yankees baseball team hits his 61st home run of the season, setting a new record that stands until 1998.
1962: James Meredith becomes the first black student at the University of Mississippi, after 3,000 troops put down riots.
1971: Walt Disney World opens in Orlando, FL.
1981: A car packed with explosives blows up outside headquarters of the Palestine Liberation Organization in West Beirut, Lebanon, killing more than 80 people and injuring more than 300.
2001: A Muslim militant group attacks the state legislature in Srinagar, Kashmir. At least 40 people are killed. In preparation for military action against Afghanistan following the terrorist attacks of September 11, the U.S. sends a third aircraft carrier to the Middle East; 29,000 military personnel and 349 aircraft have now been sent to the area.
2002: Iraqi Pres. Saddam Hussein agrees to allow international inspectors into the country to search for weapons of mass destruction, but refuses access to a number of sites.

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September 30, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 30

This Day in History

1399: King Richard II of England resigns his crown after being captured by Henry Bolingbroke (later Henry IV ) in Wales. Richard dies in captivity a few months later.
1630: One of the first pilgrims to land in America, John Billington, is hanged for murder—the first criminal execution carried out in the colonies.
1788: Pennsylvania becomes the first state to elect U.S. senators.
1946: The judgment of the International Military Tribunal at the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi leaders is handed down on Sept. 30-Oct. 1. Twelve defendants are sentenced to death.
1949: The U.S.-British airlift of food to West Berlin ends. Pres. Harry S. Truman invokes the Taft-Hartley Act in a strike of coal miners, but the strikers refuse to obey the injunction to return to work.
1965: A coup attempt in Indonesia leads to the massacre of Communists and the eventual downfall of President Sukarno, who is unable to control the military.
1993: An earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale strikes Maharashtra in southern India, killing about 10,000 people, according to official estimates.
1998: Pres. Bill Clinton announces a budget surplus of $70 billion for fiscal year 1998; it is the first federal surplus since 1969.
2001: The Taliban say they are holding Osama bin Laden for his safety. A 10-member U.S. Congressional delegation visits Mohammed Zahir Shah, the deposed king of Afghanistan in exile near Rome.

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September 29, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 29

This Day in History

1938: The Munich Pact, an attempt to appease Adolf Hitler by allowing Germany to occupy German-speaking parts of Czechoslovakia, is signed by Germany, Italy, France, and Great Britain. British prime minister Neville Chamberlain later returns home proclaiming "peace in our time."
1949: Iva Toguri D'Aquino (Tokyo Rose) is found guilty of treason for making radio broadcasts for Japan during World War II.
1950: In the Korean War, South Korean troops reach the 38th parallel.
1954: Willie Mays of the NY Giants makes one of the most famous catches in baseball history—an over-the-head grab of Vic Wertz's 426-foot drive to centerfield at the Polo Grounds—in the first game of the World Series.
1982: The first of 7 people die after taking Tylenol capsules that were contaminated with cyanide.
1988: The United States successfully launches the space shuttle Discovery, the first shuttle to fly since the 1986 Challenger disaster.
2001: The Defense Dept. places more than 3,400 National Guard and Reserves personnel on active duty; the total number activated since Sept. 11 is more than 20,000. The UN resumes aid shipments to Afghanistan for the first time since Sept. 11; the country has a food shortage and a deepening refugee crisis.
2005: The Senate votes to confirm federal Judge John G. Roberts Jr. as the 17th chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, succeeding William H. Rehnquist, who died earlier in the month.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Sept. 29" »

September 28, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 28

This Day in History

1066: William of Normandy lands at Pevensey, beginning the Norman conquest of England.
1542: Portuguese navigator Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo discovers California, reaching San Diego Bay.
1924: Two planes land in Seattle, Washington, after completing the first flight around the world.
1960: Boston Red Sox baseball great Ted Williams hits a home run in the last at-bat of his career, at Fenway Park.
1978: Pope John Paul I dies after having served only 34 days.
1984: Pres. Ronald Reagan meets with Soviet Foreign Min. Andrei Gromyko at the White House, his first meeting with a Soviet leader.
1989: Deposed Philippine Pres. Ferdinand Marcos dies in Hawaii at the age of 72.
2001: The UN Security Council unanimously approves a U.S.-sponsored resolution requiring all member states to assist in the American-led war on terrorism following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. A delegation of Islamic clerics from Pakistan fails to persuade the Taliban to hand over suspected Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden. The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopts a resolution requiring all member nations to work against terrorist operations within their borders and cooperate in international efforts against them. The FBI releases text of a letter in the possession of hijackers of at least three of the four planes used in the Sept. 11 attacks, with instructions on preparing for their mission.
2005: Rep. Tom DeLay (R, TX), majority leader of the House of Representatives, is indicted in Texas for allegedly conspiring to violate a state fundraising law.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Sept. 28" »

September 27, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 27

This Day in History

1930: Bobby Jones wins the U.S. Amateur golf championship, his 4th major tournament win of the season, making him the first golfer to achieve a Season Grand Slam.
1954: The Tonight Show has its TV premiere, with Steve Allen as the host.
1998: St. Louis Cardinals baseball slugger Mark McGwire sets an all-time major league season home run record when he hits his 70th, far surpassing the 61 homers hit by Roger Maris in 1961.
2000: 200,000 opponents of Yugoslavian Pres. Slobodan Milosevic demonstrate in Belgrade to force the dictator's ouster after a first round of voting on Sept. 24 appears to give victory to his opponent, Vojislav Kostunica.
2001: Pres. George W. Bush asks for National Guard protection at the nation's airports in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks and announces measures to strengthen cockpit doors and place armed plainclothes federal marshals on many flights.
2002: Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld asserts the U.S. has solid evidence of a link between Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq and al-Qaeda.
2003: Defying Pres. George W. Bush, Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin reaffirms his country's committment to helping the Iranians build a nuclear reactor.

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September 26, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 26

This Day in History

1513: The Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa crosses the Isthmus of Panama and becomes the first European to see the Pacific Ocean from the Americas.
1781: In anticipation of the siege of Gen. Charles Cornwallis at Yorktown, George Washington and Jean Baptiste de Rochambeau, having joined forces, arrive near Williamsburg.
1918: The Battle of the Argonne, the last major battle of World War I, begins.
1950: In the Korean War, U.S. forces recapture Seoul.
1960: The first in a series of television debates takes place between presidential candidates Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy.
1983: Australia II sails to victory off Newport, RI, over the American yacht Liberty to capture the America's Cup trophy--the first time in 132 years that the United States has lost the Cup.
1996: Astronaut Shannon Lucid completes a space voyage of 188 days, setting a record for women and for U.S. astronauts.
2001: With an announcement from Delta that it will reduce its capacity by 15% and lay off up to 13,000 workers, the airline industry's layoffs after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks exceed 100,000. A pro-Taliban demonstration in the Afghan capital of Kabul destroys the U.S. embassy compound.
2002: More than 1,000 people die when a ferry capsizes off the coast of Senegal .

Continue reading "This Day In History: Sept. 26" »

September 25, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 25

This Day in History

1789: Congress submits the Bill of Rights to the states for ratification.
1956: The first transatlantic telephone cable is activated.
1959: Prime Minister Bandaranaike of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka ) is shot by a Buddhist monk and dies a day later.
1963: Juan Bosch, the first freely elected president of the Dominican Republic in nearly four decades, is deposed in a military coup months after taking office.
1965: Satchel Paige, at age 59, becomes the oldest man to play major league baseball, pitching 3 scoreless innings for the Kansas City Athletics.
1981: Sandra Day O'Connor is sworn in as the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court.
1988: Presidential candidates George Bush and Michael Dukakis meet in the first of 2 television debates.
1992: NASA launches the space probe Mars Observer; communication with the craft is lost on Aug. 21, 1993.
2001: Saudi Arabia, following the pattern of other nations after Sept. 11, breaks off relations with the Taliban, leaving Pakistan as the only country to recognize the ruling Afghan regime.

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September 24, 2007

Wake Up With Wobbly Willy (and Whoopi)

Campaign ButtonsAs promised, I am almost caught up with posting our backlog of World Almanac segments on Whoopi Goldberg's morning radio show. Today's posting brings us all the way up to September 13, when I stopped by to talk about:
  • Nasty presidential campaigns (and candidate nicknames) in U.S. history
  • Why you should immediately click through to the Library of Congress (as long as you have time to spare)
  • And a little background on the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner.

Keep checking back here for future conversations, or tune in and listen live at around 7:30 (Eastern time) every Thursday morning, online, or on the radio.

Listen: Whoopi-091307.mp3

Image from brighterworlds' Flickr stream

This Day In History: Sept. 24

This Day in History

1789: The Supreme Court is created by the Federal Judiciary Act.
1869: An attempt to "corner" gold by Jay Gould and James Fisk leads to financial panic, subsequently called "Black Friday," in New York.
1952: Rocky Marciano becomes world heavyweight boxing champion by knocking out Joe Walcott in the 13th round in Philadelphia.
1957: Pres. Dwight Eisenhower sends federal troops to enforce a court order on desegregating Little Rock, AR, schools.
1960: The first U.S. atomic-powered aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Enterprise, is launched at Newport News, VA.
1964: The Warren Commission submits its report, finding that Lee Harvey Oswald, "acting alone and without advice or assistance," fired the shots that killed President John F. Kennedy .
1998: Iran drops its 1989 call for the death of British author Salman Rushdie.
2001: President George W. Bush signs an order freezing the assets of 27 people and organizations suspected of involvement with terrorists.
2002: Assailants wielding automatic weapons kill 29 Hindu worshippers at a temple in Gandhinagar, India.
2005: Hurricane Rita, one of the most intense Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded, strikes the TX and LA coasts, killing several people and causing billions of dollars in damages.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Sept. 24" »

September 23, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 23

This Day in History

1122: Henry V, king of Germany and Holy Roman emperor, signs the Concordat of Worms, thus ending the investiture controversy and guaranteeing the Roman Catholic church freedom to choose its bishops and abbots without interference.
1779: John Paul Jones on the Bonhomme Richard defeats the British man-of-war Serapis in the North Sea.
1780: Benedict Arnold is found to be a traitor.
1806: The Lewis and Clark expedition to explore the West ends with their return to St. Louis.
1846: The planet Neptune is discovered.
1911: The first transportation of mail by airplane to be officially approved by the U.S. Post Office Department begins in Long Island, New York.
1949: Pres. Harry S. Truman announces that the Soviets have developed an atomic bomb.
1952: Vice presidential candidate Richard Nixon delivers the nationally televised "Checkers speech."
1999: NASA reports that it has lost communication with the Mars Climate Observer space probe, which apparently broke up after coming too close to the planet because of a navigational error.
2001: The FAA grounds all crop-dusting planes after reports that a Sept. 11 hijacker had been gathering information on crop-dusting.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Sept. 23" »

September 22, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 22

This Day in History

1776: Nathan Hale is executed as a spy by the British, proclaiming, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."
1911: Baseball player Cy Young pitches the 511th and final victory of his career, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates, 1-0.
1927: Gene Tunney defends his heavyweight boxing title against Jack Dempsey, after being given a controversial "long count" by the referee.
1961: The U.S. Congress formally approves the legislation establishing the Peace Corps.
1973: Henry Kissinger is sworn in as secretary of state, becoming the first naturalized citizen to hold the post.
1975: Pres. Gerald Ford is unharmed after an assassination attempt by radical Sara Jane Moore, who fires a revolver at him.
1987: NFL football players go on strike over free agency and other issues.
2001: U.S. Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld deploys surveillance and intelligence-gathering aircraft to the Middle East.
2002: Germany's governing center-left coalition narrowly retains its majority in parliamentary elections.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Sept. 22" »

September 21, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 21

This Day in History

1784: The first successful U.S. daily newspaper, the Pennsylvania Packet & General Advertiser, is published.
1957: Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus complies with a federal court order to remove National Guardsmen from a Little Rock high school, where they have prevented black students from entering, but the students are ordered to withdraw by local authorities.
1964: Malta becomes an independent nation.
1970: Monday Night Football debuts on TV, with the Cleveland Browns football team defeating the NY Jets, 31-21 in the first game.
1981: Belize finally attains full independence, but Guatemala refuses to recognize the new nation; about 1500 British troops remain to protect Belize from the Guatemalan threat.
1982: NFL players go on strike for the first time in the regular season; they are out 8 weeks.
1998: A videotape of Pres. Bill Clinton's testimony before a grand jury on his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, lasting more than 4 hours, is shown on TV.
2001: Congress approves a $15 billion bailout package for America's whose passenger numbers have plummeted following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. The Dow Jones average hits 8,235.81, its lowest level since Sept. 11 and a decline of almost 1,800 points from its highest level of the month.
First Lady Laura Bush attends a memorial service near the crash site in Shanksville, PA, of hijacked United flight 93.:

Continue reading "This Day In History: Sept. 21" »

September 20, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 20

This Day in History

1378: French cardinals defy Pope Urban VI and elect an antipope, Clement VII, who flees to Avignon, France. For the next five decades the Roman Catholic Church will have two or even three contending popes, until a single legitimate pope is finally chosen at the Council of Constance (1414-18).
1697: The Peace of Ryswick ends the war between Louis XIV, king of France, and the Grand Alliance, a coalition including England, Spain, the Netherlands, and the Holy Roman Empire.
1792: During the French Revolution, the monarchy is supplanted by the First Republic.
1973: Billie Jean King defeats Bobby Riggs in 3 straight sets in tennis's nationally televised "Battle of the Sexes."
1981: In a 99-0 vote, the Senate confirms the appointment of Sandra Day O'Connor as first woman justice of U.S. Supreme Court.
1990: Justice William Brennan announces his resignation from the Supreme Court.
1991: Armenia's voters approved a declaration of independence from the USSR.
1998: Baseball player Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles takes himself out of the lineup, thus ending his record streak of consecutive games played at 2,632.
2001: Pres. George W. Bush demands that the Taliban hand over bin Laden or share his fate.
2002: Israel destroys all but one building in Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat's Ramallah compound a day after a Palestinian suicide bombing kills six and injures scores in Israel.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Sept. 20" »

September 19, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 19

This Day in History

1676: Colonist Nathaniel Bacon, leading planters against the autocratic British Gov. Sir William Berkeley, defeats Berkeley's forces and burns Jamestown, VA.
1863: The Battle of Chickamauga, one of the major engagements of the American Civil War, is fought on Sept. 19-20 near Chickamauga Creek, in northern Georgia. The Union troops are forced to retreat.
1873: The New York Stock Exchange suffers a major financial crash that ushers in the Panic of 1873.
1881: Pres. James A. Garfield, shot in Washington, DC, by Charles Guiteau on July 2, dies in Elberon, NJ; Chester Alan Arthur becomes president.
1899: French Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, the victim of an anti-Semitic plot, is pardoned of treason by the French government.
1981: An estimated 260,000 members of the AFL-CIO and others hold a demonstration in Washington, DC, against the policies of Pres. Ronald Reagan.
1983: St. Kitts and Nevis jointly attain full independence within the Commonwealth of Nations.
2000: The U.S. Senate votes 83-15 to grant normal trade relations with China, ending the contentious process of annual review.
2001: The U.S. orders combat aircraft to the Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean, and two former Soviet republics bordering Afghanistan, as Pres. Bush demands that the Taliban hand over bin Laden and Al Qaeda members. Pakistani Pres. General Pervez Musharraf defends his decision to cooperate with U.S. forces against bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Sept. 19" »

September 17, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 17

This Day in History

1631: The First Battle of Breitenfeld, an engagement of the Thirty Years' War, is fought near Leipzig, Germany. The Protestant forces are victorious over the Roman Catholic forces, and go on to occupy southern Germany.
1787: Delegates at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia vote to accept the Constitution.
1796: President George Washington delivers his Farewell Address as president, and warns against permanent alliances with foreign powers, a big public debt, a large military establishment, and the devices of a "small, artful, enterprising minority."
1862: The Battle of Antietam pits Gen. George McClellan's Union forces against Robert E. Lee's Confederate troops; said to be the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, it stops the Confederate advance into the North.
1911: C. P. Rodgers makes the first transcontinental airplane flight (with numerous stops), from New York to Pasadena, CA, Sept. 17-Nov. 5; time in the air: 82 hours, 4 minutes.
1920: The American Professional Football Association, later renamed the National Football League, is formed in Canton, OH.
1972: M*A*S*H begins its 11-year TV run.
1978: Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat and Israeli Premier Menachem Begin reach accord on a "framework for peace" after Carter-mediated talks at Camp David.
1986: The Senate confirms the nomination of William Rehnquist as chief justice of the Supreme Court and Antonin Scalia as an associate justice.
2001: Trading resumes on Wall Street after an unprecedented 6-day closure following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Pres. George W. Bush says bin Laden is wanted "dead or alive;" he also condemns violence against Arab-Americans.
2002: Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi meets in Pyongyang with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il; the two nations have not had diplomatic ties since 1948.
2004: Tropical Storm Jeanne hits the island of Hispaniola, causing flooding which kills over 1000 in Haiti.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Sept. 17" »

September 15, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 15

This Day in History

1776: In the Revolutionary War, British troops under Gen. William Howe seize New York City.
1821: Guatemala, which includes present-day Central America from Chiapas to Costa Rica, proclaims its independence.
1916: During World War I, tanks are used for the first time in the Battle of the Somme near Courcelette, France, with disappointing results.
1940: In the turning point of Hitler's World War II siege of Britain, the Battle of Britain ends, concluding the biggest daylight bombing raid of the country by the Luftwaffe.
1944: U.S. troops enter Germany, reaching the southwest frontier.
1950: In the Korean War, U.S. forces land on Inchon.
1959: Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev begins an unprecedented visit by a Soviet leader to the United States.
1963: A Baptist church in Birmingham, AL, is bombed, killing 4 black girls.
1972: Two former White House aides, G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt, are indicted along with 5 others on charges stemming from the break-in at Democratic headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington, DC.
2001: Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of Afghanistan's military opposition to the Taliban rulers, dies of injuries incurred in a Sept. 9 suicide attack attributed by some to Osama bin Laden . The government of Pakistan, which borders on Afghanistan, pledges its "full support" to the U.S. in tracking those responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Sept. 15" »

September 14, 2007

Map Mashups

Yahoo just rolled out a very cool new beta product called MapMixer, which lets you upload your own maps and overlay them on Yahoo's interactive world maps—even if your map doesn't have just the right proportions or perspective.

There are already some great examples online, including the historical lower Manhattan overlay at right. Make sure you zoom out and play with the overlay opacity. Oh, what a little landfill can do...

If you want to play around with MapMixer but don't have your own personal stash of maps, I suggest you click on over to the Library of Congress, which has some great historical maps its American Memory collection.

MapMixer (beta) (Yahoo!)

This Day In History: Sept. 14

This Day in History

1847: In the Mexican War, U.S. troops under Gen. Winfield Scott take Mexico City—the effective end of fighting in the war.
1812: Moscow is taken by Napoleon. The Russians have burned the city, making it impossible for Napoleon's troops to establish winter quarters there.
1829: The Treaty of Adrianople, which ends the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-9, gives Russia suzerainty over the peoples of the Caucasus and the emperor a protectorate over Moldavia and Walachia.
1901: Pres. William McKinley dies 8 days after being shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz; Theodore Roosevelt is sworn in, becoming the youngest president in U.S. history.
1940: The first peacetime draft in the history of the United States is approved.
1975: Elizabeth Ann Seton becomes the first native-born American to be canonized.
1984: Joseph Kittinger makes the first solo transatlantic crossing by balloon when he flies his helium-filled Rosie O'Grady's 5690 km (3536 mi) from Caribou, Maine, to the Italian Riviera near Savona.
1994: The baseball season, halted by a strike that began on Aug. 11, and the World Series are cancelled.
2001: Congress approves a $40 billion emergency spending package largely to aid the immediate recovery of lower Manhattan and Washington, D.C. after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Both houses authorize the use of all "necessary and appropriate force" against the attackers, and the Justice Dept. releases the names of 19 men identified as the hijackers of the four planes used in the attacks. Pres. George W. Bush authorizes the callup of 50,000 military reservists. Bush views the devastation and thanks the rescue workers at the New York site of the twin towers' collapse.
2003: Trade talks between 146 countries in Cancun, Mexico, which had been aimed at opening markets and lowering barriers, collapse over the issue of agricultural subsidies.
2005: Twelve suicide bombings in Baghdad, Iraq, claim at least 167 lives and wound nearly 600.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Sept. 14" »

September 13, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 13

This Day in History

1788: Congress picks New York City to be the capital of the new federal government.
1814: In the War of 1812, the 25-hour bombardment of Fort McHenry, Baltimore, begins; the failure of the British fleet to take the fort inspires Francis Scott Key to write the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner."
1847: Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City, Mexico is captured by U.S. troops in the final battle of the Mexican War.
1970: The first New York City Marathon is held, in Central Park; fewer than half of the 127 runners who start complete the race.
1985: The United States successfully tests an antisatellite weapon, an ASAT missile fired by an Air Force jet against an orbiting satellite.
1993: Israeli Prime Min. Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, in Washington, DC, sign an accord allowing for Palestinian self-rule.
2001: Commercial air traffic resumes to and from most airports in the U.S. after the total stoppage that followed the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Logan International Airport in Boston and Ronald Reagan National Airport near Washington, D.C., remain closed. Secretary of State Colin Powell names Osama bin Laden as the prime suspect in the attacks; bin Laden and his Al Qaeda organization have been based in Afghanistan under the protection of the country's Islamic fundamentalist Taliban regime.
2002: Five Yemeni men residing in Lackawanna, NY are arrested on suspicion of supporting the Sept. 11 terrorists; a sixth is arrested in Bahrain two days later.

September 12, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 12

This Day in History

1814: In the War of 1812, the Maryland militia succeeds in stopping the British advance.
1918: Gen. John J. Pershing leads the first U.S. Army against the Germans in the Battle of Saint-Mihiel, the first major U.S. offensive of World War I.
1959: The Soviet craft Luna 2 is launched; it becomes the first spacecraft to land on the Moon.
1974: Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie is overthrown by the military.
2001: Pres. Bush, speaking to cabinet members and congressional leaders, says, "The deliberate and deadly attacks, which were carried out yesterday against our country, were more than acts of terror. They were acts of war." Both houses of Congress (the House shortly after midnight) unanimously pass a resolution of support for Bush in going after the attackers. NATO for the first time cites its mutual defense provision in saying it would cooperate in the event of a U.S. response to the attack.
2002: U.S. Pres. George W. Bush addresses the UN General Assembly and argues that the international community must confront Iraq and its weapons programs.
2003: The UN lifts sanctions against Libya, which has renounced terrorism and agreed to compensate families of victims of two aircraft bombings in the late 1980s.
2005: The last Israeli troops leave the Gaza Strip under a pullout plan adopted by the Israeli government.

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September 11, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 11

This Day in History

1297: William Wallace leads the Scots to victory over the English at Stirling Bridge.
1777: The Battle of the Brandywine, an engagement of the American Revolution, is fought near Chadds Ford, PA. It results in a withdrawal of the American forces under George Washington.
1786: The Annapolis Convention opens in Maryland with state delegates meeting to discuss commercial matters; when the convention closes on Sept. 14, the delegates have adopted a resolution to call a convention to write a constitution for the 13 states.
1814: In the War of 1812, the United States wins a naval victory at the Battle of Lake Champlain.
1897: A coal miners' strike is settled after more than 20 miners are fired on and killed by lawmen in Pennsylvania.
1948: Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founding father of Pakistan and its first governor-general, dies in Karachi.
1959: Congress passes a bill to begin the food-stamp program for low-income Americans.
1985: Baseball player Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds gets his 4,192nd career hit, breaking Ty Cobb's record for most lifetime hits.
1997: The Mars Global Surveyor space probe begins orbiting Mars on a mapping survey of the surface.
2001: Islamic terrorists hijack four U.S. passenger airliners and fly two into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, bringing both towers crashing down within 100 minutes of the first impact; a third hijacked jetliner crashes into the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., and a fourth is apparently brought down by passengers over rural Pennsylvania. Barely an hour after the first plane hits, the FAA grounds all commercial passenger and cargo flights nationwide. More than 3,000 people perish in the attacks; the World Trade Center attack alone claims more than 2,800 lives. Speaking in the evening, President George W. Bush calls the attacks "evil, despicable acts of terror."

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September 10, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 10

This Day in History

1813: In the War of 1812, Oliver H. Perry defeats the British fleet in the Battle of Lake Erie.
1846: Elias Howe receives a patent for his first sewing machine.
1919: A peace treaty between the Allies and Austria is signed at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France.
1935: Louisiana Sen. Huey Long, a national political figure, dies two days after having been shot in Baton Rouge.
1943: In World War II fighting, the Germans occupy Rome, Italy to counter the Allies' invasion of southern Italy.
1955: Gunsmoke, TV's longest running western series, premieres.
1960: At a conference in Baghdad on September 10-14, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Venezuela, and Kuwait found the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to coordinate their policies and help sustain oil prices.
1967: In a referendum, the people of Gibraltar vote overwhelmingly to remain under British rule and to reject ties with Spain .
1974: Portugal formally grants Guinea-Bissau independence.
1989: Hurricane Hugo sweeps through the Caribbean and the Carolinas Sept. 10-22, causing at least 40 deaths and $6 billion in damage in the Carolinas alone.
1996: The United Nations General Assembly approves and opens for signature the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty banning all nuclear test explosions.
2000: The United States government drops 58 of 59 charges against nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee. Lee had been charged with the removal of classified documents from the top-secret nuclear research facility in Los Alamos, NM.
2002: Switzerland becomes the 190th member state of the UN after its voters approved a referendum in March.

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September 9, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 9

This Day in History

1513: A Scottish army commanded by James IV, king of Scotland, is defeated by the English in the Battle of Flodden Field. James is among the dead.
1850: Under Sen. Henry Clay's Compromise of 1850, California is admitted to the Union as the 31st state, with slavery forbidden. Also under the measure, Utah and New Mexico become territories, the Fugitive Slave Law is made more harsh, and the slave trade is ended in the District of Columbia.
1919: Boston police go on strike. Governor Calvin Coolidge calls in the National Guard and states that "there is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anytime, anywhere."
1945: Gen. Douglas MacArthur takes over supervision of occupied Japan.
1965: Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax throws the 4th no-hitter of his baseball career, a perfect game, beating the Chicago Cubs by a score of 1-0.
1972: The U.S. men's Olympic basketball team loses the gold medal for the first time in a controversial finish with the Soviets.
1976: Chinese leader Mao Zedong dies in Beijing.
1998: Independent counsel Kenneth Starr delivers to the U.S. House what he calls "substantial and credible information that may constitute grounds" for impeaching Pres. Bill Clinton.
2001: In Afghanistan, two men linked to al-Qaeda, posing as journalists, are believed responsible for the suicide bombing on that kills Northern Alliance commander Ahmed Shah Massoud.
2003: The Roman Catholic archdiocese of Boston and lawyers representing about 550 victims of sexual abuse by priests announce a settlement worth up to $85 million.

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September 8, 2007

This Day In History, Sept. 8

This Day in History

1565: St. Augustine, Florida—now the oldest continuing settlement in the United States—is founded by Pedro Menéndez de Aviles.
1664: British troops seize New Netherland from the Dutch; the English later rename it New York.
1781: The Battle of Eutaw Springs, the last important engagement in the Carolina campaign of the American Revolution, is fought near Eutawville, SC. It is a strategic victory for the Americans.
1883: The Northern Pacific Railroad is completed.
1935: Huey Long, senator from Louisiana and national political leader, is shot; he dies two days later.
1939: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaims a limited national emergency.
1945: U.S. forces enter Korea south of the 38th parallel to displace the Japanese.
1951: A peace treaty with Japan is signed in San Francisco by U.S., Japan, and 47 other nations.
1954: The Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), is founded by Australia , France, Great Britain, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, and the U.S. as an alliance for defense and economic cooperation.
1969: Tennis great Rod Laver wins the U.S. Open, thus achieving a Grand Slam—becoming the only player ever to win 2 Grand Slams.
1971: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. opens to the public
1974: Pres. Gerald Ford issues a pardon to ex-Pres. Richard Nixon for any federal crimes he committed while president.
1998: St. Louis Cardinals baseball player Mark McGwire hits the 62d home run of the season, breaking Roger Maris' 1961 season record of 61.

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September 7, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 7

This Day in History

1797: The U.S. frigate Constellation is launched at Baltimore, MD.
1812: The Battle of Borodino is fought near Moscow between the French, led by Napoleon, and the Russians. The French are victorious, and soon enter and occupy Moscow.
1822: In São Paolo, the independence of Brazil from Portugal is proclaimed.
1892: In the first modern boxing match played under Marquis of Queensbury rules, James J. Corbett defeats John L. Sullivan.
1901: A peace treaty with punitive conditions is forced upon the imperial Chinese government after the Boxer Rebellion and the occupation of Beijing by British, French, Japanese, Russian, German, and American troops.
1986: Pres. Augusto Pinochet of Chile survives an assassination attempt by the leftist opposition, and a state of siege is declared.
1999: Viacom, the world's largest cable network company, announces that it plans to buy CBS. An earthquake in Greece shakes the Athens region, killing 143 people and causing property damage estimated at nearly $650 million.
2003: In a televised address, Pres. George W. Bush asks Congress for $87 billion to rebuild Iraq.

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September 6, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 6

This Day in History

1899: Sec. of State John Hay sends a letter to countries with interests in China, proclaiming an Open-Door Policy to make China an open international market.
1901: Pres. William McKinley, welcoming citizens at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY, is shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz; he dies on Sept. 14.
1914: During World War I, the first Battle of the Marne begins, halting the German advance near the Marne River in northeastern France, less than 30 miles from Paris.
1945: Singapore, occupied by the Japanese, is liberated by British troops.
1972: Nine Israelis taken hostage from the Olympic Village at the Munich Olympics in Germany, and 5 Arab terrorists, die in a shootout with police at the Munich airport.
1991: The Soviet government formally recognized the independence of the Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
1995: Baseball player Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles plays in his 2,131st straight game, breaking Lou Gehrig's record of most consecutive games played.
1997: Diana, the Princess of Wales, is laid to rest after a public service in London's Westminster Abbey.
2001: In a reversal of the Clinton administration's policy, the Justice Dept. announces that it will not seek to split Microsoft, Inc. into more than one company.
2003: Mahmoud Abbas resigns as Palestinian PM, citing recalcitrance from Palestinian leaders and Israeli obstruction of the peace process.

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September 5, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 5

This Day in History

1774: The First Continental Congress opens in Philadelphia.
1795: U.S. buys peace from Algerian pirates by paying $1 million ransom for 115 seamen, followed by annual tributes.
1905: The peace treaty ending the Russo-Japanese War is signed in Portsmouth, NH.
1939: The United States declares its neutrality in World War II.
1972: Eight Arab guerrillas, members of the Black September terrorist group, invade the Israeli dormitory in the Olympic Village in Munich, Germany, killing 2 Israelis and taking 9 hostages.
1975: Pres. Gerald Ford is unharmed when a Secret Service agent grabs a pistol aimed at him by Lynette (Squeaky) Fromme, a follower of Charles Manson, in Sacramento, CA.
1977: Space probe Voyager 1 is launched toward Jupiter and Saturn.
1997: Mother Teresa, who worked for decades on behalf of the poor and ill in India, dies in Calcutta at the age of 87.
2002: A gunman narrowly misses Afghanistan's Pres. Hamid Karzai after opening fire on his car in Kandahar.
2004: Hurricane Frances hits Florida after crossing the Bahamas, killing 35.

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September 4, 2007

Great Museums: Lawnmower World

0709lawnmower.jpgWant to see Princess Diana's lawnmower?

Ever wonder what the origin of "Shank's Pony" is?

Or what the first lawnmower looks like?

Visit the British Lawnmower Museum in Lancashire, England, just across from Discount Mower Warehouse Stanleys.

British Lawnmower Museum

This Day In History: Sept. 4

This Day in History

1781: Los Angeles is founded by Spanish settlers.
1886: Apache leader Geronimo surrenders in his long fight against settlers in the Southwest.
1944: In World War II, British and Canadian troops liberate the Belgian cities of Brussels and Antwerp.
1951: Transcontinental television begins with Pres. Truman's address at Japanese Peace Treaty Conference in San Francisco.
1957: National Guardsmen, called out by Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus, bar 9 black students from entering an all-white high school in Little Rock.
1972: Mark Spitz, swimming on the U.S. 4x100-meter medley relay team, wins his record 7th gold medal at the Munich Olympics.

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September 3, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 3

This Day in History

1651: At the Battle of Worcester, Charles II of England is defeated by Oliver Cromwell and flees to France.
1658: Oliver Cromwell, leader of the parliamentary forces during the English Civil War and virtual dictator of England, dies. The monarchy is restored less than two years later.
1783: The Treaty of Paris, ending the Revolutionary War, is signed by the United States and Britain.
1939: France and Britain declare war on Germany, setting World War II in motion.
1940: The United States announces the transfer of 50 overaged destroyers to Britain to aid the country in fighting World War II.
1943: In World War II, British Gen. Bernard Montgomery and the 8th Army invade the Italian mainland, and Italy surrenders.
1969: Ho Chi Minh (Nguyen Tat Thanh), Vietnamese Communist leader and the principal force behind the Vietnamese struggle against French colonial rule, dies in Hanoi.
1976: Space probe Viking II lands on Mars and begins sending back photographs.
1977: Japanese baseball great Sadaharu Oh hits the 756th home run of his career for the Yamiuri Giants, breaking Hank Aaron's record of career homers.
2002: The International Criminal Court, a permanent United Nations war crimes tribunal, holds its first meeting, in The Hague.
2004: A hostage crisis in the Russian town of Beslan ends in a gun battle between security forces and Chechen guerrillas. Hundreds are killed.

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The Library was Overdue

abigail2.jpg The first schoolteacher to become First Lady, Abigail Powers Fillmore (1798-1853) had a passion for literature. Educated at home by her mother, she read all of the books in her fathers’ library, and began to teach school at the age of 16, while continuing to go to school. After her marriage to Millard Fillmore, she continued to teach school, the first First Lady to have a job outside of her home.

Books were an important focus of Abigail’s life, and she founded the first circulating library in Sempronius, New York. Her husband often purchased books for her when he was traveling, and in the years of their marriage they collected over 4,000 books.

As First Lady, Fillmore was dismayed to find that there were no books in the White House, and she got Congress to appropriate $2,000 to purchase several hundred books. Shakespeare, Dickens, Thackeray, Burns, travel books, biographies, histories, law books, religious works and other novels were chosen.

An 1842 ankle injury had lasting effects on Abigail’s life and she limited her activities as First Lady during her husband’s abbreviated term of office (he succeeded to the Presidency with the death of Zachary Taylor). Standing during the snowy inauguration of President Franklin Pierce on March 4, 1853, she grew ill soon after, and died of pneumonia on March 30th.

September 1, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 1

This Day in History

1715: Louis XIV of France, the "Sun King," dies at Versailles in the 73d year of his reign.
1807: On trial for treason, former vice-president Aaron Burr is acquitted after a six-month trial in Richmond, Virginia.
1864: Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, on his march through Georgia during the Civil War, takes Atlanta.
1870: The Battle of Sedan is fought in northern France. Napoleon III surrenders himself and his army the next day, ending the Franco-Prussian War.
1897: The first U.S. subway line begins service in Boston, running from the Public Gardens to Park St.
1905: Saskatchewan and Alberta enter the Canadian Confederation as the eighth and ninth provinces.
1923: An earthquake measuring 8.3 on the Richter scale hits Yokohama, Japan, killing 143,000 people.
1939: World War II begins when Germany invades Poland.
1951: The ANZUS pact, a mutual-defense pact between Australia, New Zealand (until 1986), and the U.S., is signed.
1969: In Libya, a group of young army officers overthrow the royal government and establish a republic. The revolutionary government is dominated by Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi.
1983: Korean Air Lines Flight 007, flying from New York City to Seoul, South Korea, is shot down after violating Soviet airspace; all 269 people aboard are killed.
1985: A joint U.S.-French expedition of scientists, led by Robert Ballard and using the submersible Argo, discovers the wreck of the Titanic.

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August 31, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 31

This Day in History

1887: Thomas Edison receives a patent for his Kinetoscope, which produces moving pictures.
1895: The first official professional football game is played, with the Jeanette Athletic Club defeating the Latrobe YMCA by a 12-0 score.
1980: The Solidarity labor movement is born in Poland under an agreement reached with striking shipyard workers in Gdansk.
1990: Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey Jr. become the first father and son baseball players to play together in the major leagues, during a Seattle Mariners game.
1997: Diana, Princess of Wales, is killed in an auto accident in Paris, France, along with her companion, Mohammed (Dodi) al-Fayed, and their driver.
2001: A Little League baseball team from the Bronx is forced to forfeit all of its season's victories after its star, Danny Almonte, is revealed to be 14 instead of 12.

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August 30, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 30

This Day in History

1856: John Brown leads antislavery fighters against Missourians at Osawatomie, KS.
1893: Frances Folsom Cleveland, wife of Pres. Grover Cleveland, becomes the first first lady to give birth in the White House, when daughter Esther is born.
1991: Mike Powell beats Bob Beamon's 23-year-old record in the long jump when he jumps 29'4" at the world championships in Tokyo, Japan .
1997: The Houston Comets basketball team beats the NY Liberty, 65-51, to win the first WNBA championship.
2002: Baseball owners and players avert a strike with a last-minute agreement on a new contract.

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August 29, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 29

This Day in History

1889: The first U.S. professional tennis match is played, in Newport, RI.
1957: SC Sen. Strom Thurmond sets a filibuster record of 24 hours, 27 minutes, when he speaks against a civil rights bill.
1991: In the USSR, the Supreme Soviet suspends all activities of the Communist Party.
1996: Dick Morris, a political strategist for Pres. Bill Clinton, resigns after being linked to a prostitute.
2004: The Summer Olympics conclude in Athens, Greece.
2005: Hurricane Katrina devastates the U.S. Gulf Coast and floods New Orleans, killing more than 1,000 and becoming the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.

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August 28, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 28

This Day in History

1963: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his "I have a dream" speech as some 200,000 people march on Washington in support of black demands for equal rights.
1990: Iraq declares Kuwait, which it invaded weeks earlier, its 19th province.
1992: U.S. planes begin delivering emergency food to war-torn Somalia, joining international relief efforts.
1997: A controversial anti-affirmative action measure, Proposition 209, goes into effect in California.

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August 27, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 27

This Day in History

1776: In the Revolutionary War, Gen. George Washington loses the Battle of Long Island.
1859: The first commercially productive oil well is drilled near Titusville, PA.
1950: Under Pres. Harry Truman's order, the Army seizes all the railroads to prevent a general strike.
1999: The Russian space station Mir is vacated by its last crew. Scientists report finding the first liquid water in an object from space, a meteorite that fell to earth in Monahans, TX, in 1998.
2003: China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Russia and the U.S. begin three days of talks in Beijing over North Korea's nuclear activities.

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August 26, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 26

This Day in History

1883: The volcano Krakatau (Krakatoa) erupts in Indonesia, causing huge tidal waves and killing some 36,000 people.
1939: A NY television station airs the first TV broadcast of a major league baseball game, between the Cincinnati Reds and Brooklyn Dodgers, played at Ebbets Field.
1957: The Soviet Union announces that it has conducted successful testing of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
1968: The Democratic National Convention opens in Chicago, marked by violent clashes between police and antiwar protestors.
2004: Iraqi Shiite leader Ali Sistani brokers a truce in fighting between U.S. troops and followers of Moqtada al-Sadr in the holy city of Najaf.

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August 25, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 25

This Day in History

1944: In World War II, Paris is liberated, and Charles de Gaulle leads a parade down the Champs Elysées.
1981: The Voyager 2 spacecraft, launched in August 1977, encounters the planet Saturn.
1985: NY Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden, at 20 years, 9 months, becomes the youngest baseball player ever to win 20 games in a season.
1989: Voyager 2 encounters the planet Neptune.
2000: The fledging Somali assembly elects Abdikassim Salad Hassan president, giving the war-torn country its first functioning government in a decade.

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August 24, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 24

This Day in History

79: The volcano Mt. Vesuvius erupts in southern Italy, killing an estimated 16,000 people and destroying the cities of Pompeii, Stabiae, and Herculaneum.
1814: In the War of 1812, the British capture Washington, DC, and burn the Capitol and the White House.
1875: Matthew Webb of Britain becomes the first person to swim the English Channel.
1949: NATO is established by the United States, Canada, and 10 Western European nations for mutual defense.
1989: Cincinnati Reds manager Pete Rose is banned from baseball for life for gambling.
1992: Hurricane Andrew strikes southern Florida, causing severe damage.

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August 23, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 23

This Day in History

1305: Scotsman William Wallace is executed after being convicted of treason by an English court.
1914: In World War I, Japan declares war on Germany.
1927: Radicals Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are executed for a 1920 Massachusetts holdup in which 2 were killed. (The controversial verdict against them was repudiated in 1977).
1939: The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany sign a nonaggression pact.
1999: For the first time since World War II, Berlin becomes the capital of a unified Germany.
2005: Israel completes the evacuation of all Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, as well as several in the West Bank.
In response to a high-profile protest staged by Cindy Sheehan, mother of a soldier killed in the Iraq war, Pres. George W. Bush rejects calls for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.:

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August 22, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 22

This Day in History

1911: Authorities announce in Paris that Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa has been stolen; it is recovered 2 years later in Italy.
1984: The Republican National Convention nominates Pres. Ronald Reagan and Vice Pres. George Bush for a 2nd term, in a single roll-call vote.
1989: Nolan Ryan of the Texas Rangers baseball team becomes the first pitcher to strike out 5,000 batters during a 2-0 Texas loss to Oakland.
1996: A major welfare reform bill is signed, providing for welfare through block grants to the states and ending the federal guarantee of subsidies to poor people with children.

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August 21, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 21

This Day in History

1831: Nat Turner, a Virginia slave, begins leading a local slave rebellion.
1858: The Lincoln - Douglas debates begin in Illinois.
1863: During the Civil War, Confederate William Clarke Quantrill launches a predawn raid on Lawrence, KS, killing 150 civilians and destroying much of the town.
1959: Hawaii is admitted to the Union as the 50th state.
1983: Benigno Aquino, the Philippine opposition leader, is shot and killed at the airport in Manila when he returns home after 3 years.
1993: NASA loses contact with the Mars Observer space probe as it nears Mars.
2002: President Bush publicly reiterates his support for "regime change" in Iraq .

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August 20, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 20

This Day in History

1968: Czechoslovakia is invaded and occupied by Warsaw Pact troops.
1974: Pres. Gerald Ford nominates Nelson Rockefeller to be vice president.
1975: Viking 1 is launched to Mars, where it lands in July 1976.
1977: Voyager 2 is launched to the outer planets; it encounters the first, Jupiter, in July 1979.
1992: Pres. George Bush accepts the Republican presidential nomination on the last day of the Republican National Convention in Houston.

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August 19, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 19

This Day in History

1812: In the War of 1812, the USS Constitution destroys the British ship Guerriere.
1934: In a plebiscite, almost 90% of Germans vote to give Adolf Hitler the title of president in addition to chancellor, placing him in supreme command of the country.
1951: Eddie Gaedel, a 3'7" midget, goes to bat as a pinch hitter for the St. Louis Browns baseball team; he walks on 4 pitches and is taken out of the game for a pinch runner.
1991: Hard-line Communists stage a coup while Pres. Mikhail Gorbachev is away from Moscow on vacation; they give up 3 days later.
2002: A Russian military helicopter crashes in Chechnya, killing 117.
2003: A Palestinian suicide bomber kills himself and 20 others on a Jerusalem bus.
A suicide bomber driving a cement truck attacks the UN headquarters in Iraq, killing 22 including Sergio Vieira de Mello—the senior UN representative in Iraq—and wounding more than 100.:

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August 18, 2007

This Day In History: Aug 18

This Day in History

1920: The 19th Amendment is ratified, giving women the vote.
1963: James Meredith graduates from the Univ. of Mississippi, becoming the first black to do so.
1983: Hurricane Alicia crosses the Texas coast near Galveston and then moves inland to Houston, causing some 20 deaths and over $1 billion in damage.
2002: Leaders of four Central European nations meet in Berlin to organize aid after the worst flooding in living memory, which has killed 109 and caused $20 billion in damage.

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August 17, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 17

This Day in History

1807: Robert Fulton makes the first practical steamboat trip, leaving New York City on the Clermont; he reaches Albany in 32 hours.
1863: During the Civil War, Union forces begin shelling Fort Sumter in South Carolina.
1920: In baseball's only on-field fatality, Cleveland shortstop Ray Chapman dies a day after being beaned by NY Yankees pitcher Carl Mays.
1987: The last surviving Nazi convicted at Nuremberg, Rudolf Hess, commits suicide in a Berlin prison.
1998: In testimony provided to a grand jury, and in a televised address, Pres. Bill Clinton admits to having had an inappropriate relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

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August 16, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 16

This Day in History

1780: During the Revolutionary War, American troops suffer disastrous losses in the Battle of Camden, SC, with 1,000 dying and another 1,000 taken captive.
1812: In the War of 1812, the British take Detroit.
1896: Gold is discovered in the Yukon's Klondike region, sparking a famous gold rush.
1948: Baseball great Babe Ruth dies of cancer at the age of 53.
1977: Elvis Presley dies in a Memphis hospital at the age of 42.

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August 15, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 15

This Day in History

1914: The Panama Canal opens.
1935: Humorist Will Rogers and aviator Wiley Post are killed in a plane crash in Alaska.
1944: In World War II, Allied forces begin landing on the south coast of France.
1947: India gains its independence from Britain.
1969: The Woodstock music festival begins near Bethel, NY, drawing hundreds of thousands of people.
2003: Libya admits responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988 that killed 270, in a $2 billion settlement with victims' families.

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August 14, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 14

This Day in History

1842: An unpopular 8-year war with the Indians, protesting their forced removal from their lands, ends.
1935: The U.S. Congress passes the Social Security Act.
1941: Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Min. Winston Churchill issue the Atlantic Charter, an 8-point declaration of principles.
1945: Japan agrees to surrender, ending World War II.
2003: A blackout leaves 50 million people without electrical power for up to 2 days in Ohio, Michigan, and the northeastern U.S., as well as eastern Canada.

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August 13, 2007

This Day In History: Aug 13

This Day in History

1521: Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortez takes Mexico City from the Aztecs.
1812: In the War of 1812, the USS Essex captures the British ship Alert.
1961: The East and West sectors of Berlin, Germany are divided by a barbed wire fence (the Berlin Wall), which is soon replaced by an actual concrete wall.
1981: Pres. Ronald Reagan signs a measure calling for a 3-year, 25% cut in personal income tax rates and cuts in business taxes, as well as a bill providing for sharp cuts in spending on many federal programs.
2004: Hurricane Charley sweeps across central Florida, killing 34 and causing billions in property damage.

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August 10, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 10

This Day in History

1821: Missouri is admitted to the Union as the 24th state.
1949: Pres. Harry Truman signs the National Security Act, creating the Dept. of Defense from the War Dept.
1989: Army Gen. Colin Powell is nominated by Pres. George Bush as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the first black to hold the post.
1993: Ruth Bader Ginsburg is sworn in as the 2nd female Supreme Court justice.
1999: White supremacist Buford Furrow Jr. opens fire in the lobby of a Los Angeles Jewish community center, wounding 3 young children and 2 staff members; he then kills a Filipino-American letter carrier a few miles away.
2001: UNITA rebels in Angola kill 250 people after planting a land mine on railroad tracks outside the capital of Luanda.

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August 9, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 9

This Day in History

1842: The Webster-Ashburton Treaty is signed, fixing the U.S.-Canada border in Maine and Minnesota.
1945: During World War II, the 2nd atomic bomb is dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, killing some 40,000 people.
1974: Pres. Richard Nixon resigns, the first president ever to do so; Vice Pres. Gerald Ford is sworn in as the 38th president.
1981: Following the settlement of a 7-week players' strike, baseball play resumes with the All-Star Game; the regular season is divided into 2 halves.
1989: Pres. George Bush signs a multibillion-dollar measure to rescue the savings and loan industry.
2000: Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. announces the recall of 6.5 million tires after a government investigation implicates the company's tires in the deaths of 46 people.
2001: President George W. Bush announces that he will allow federal funding for limited stem-cell research.
2005: The space shuttle Discovery returns after a 14-day mission to the International Space Station. It is the first shuttle flight since the February 2003 loss of the orbiter Columbia.

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August 8, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 8

This Day in History

1900: The first Davis Cup tennis tournament begins; the United States defeats Britain after the 2-day match.
1972: Sen. Thomas Eagleton, George McGovern's Democratic running mate in the 1972 presidential election, is replaced on the ticket by Sargent Shriver following disclosure that Eagleton had undergone treatment for depression.
1974: Pres. Richard Nixon announces his resignation.
1988: The Cubs play baseball under the lights for the first time at Chicago's Wrigley Field.
2000: Vice President Al Gore formally announces that his running mate for the 2000 presidential election will be Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the first Orthodox Jew ever to run for the nation's second-highest office.
2001: With the promise of NATO troops, ethnic Albanian and Macedonian Slav political parties reach an agreement to end more than six months of violence in Macedonia.

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August 7, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 7

This Day in History

1942: In World War II, the Marines land on Guadalcanal, an island in the South Pacific.
1947: Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl completes a 101-day journey across more than 4,000 miles of the Pacific on a balsa raft, the Kon-Tiki.
1964: The U.S. Congress passes the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, authorizing presidential action in Vietnam.
1990: Operation Desert Shield forces leave for Saudi Arabia.
2003: In apparent retaliation for Jordan's support of the Iraq war, a car bomb detonates outside the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad, killing 19 and wounding 65.

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August 6, 2007

Battle of the Kegs, Revisited

turtle-2007.jpgIn case you missed it when Andrew Steinitz (our resident Nostradamus) posted it back in December, feast your eyes on his entry The Battle of the Kegs for some historical perspective on the weird homemade submarine found floating off the coast of Red Hook, Brooklyn last week.

From The New York Times:

The man, Duke Riley, a heavily tattooed Brooklyn artist whose waterborne performance projects around New York have frequently landed him in trouble with the authorities, spent the last five months building the vessel as a rough replica of what is believed to have been America's first submarine, an oak sphere called the Turtle, said to have seen action in New York Harbor during the Revolutionary War.

The Battle of the Kegs (Andrew Steinitz)
An Artist and His Sub Surrender in Brooklyn (New York Times)

This Day In History: Aug. 6

This Day in History

1926: Gertrude Ederle, 19, becomes the first woman to swim the English Channel.
1945: The U.S. bomber Enola Gay drops the first atomic bomb, on the Japanese port of Hiroshima; some 75,000 people are killed.
1965: Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965, designed to stop attempts to discriminate against minorities at the polls.
1990: As a result of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the UN imposes a ban on all trade with Iraq and calls on member nations to protect the assets of Kuwait's legitimate government.
1998: Monica Lewinsky, testifying before a grand jury, admits having had a sexual relationship with Pres. Bill Clinton, but says she was never asked to lie.

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August 5, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 5

This Day in History

1861: Pres. Abraham Lincoln signs a measure creating the first federal income tax, as an emergency wartime measure.
1864: In the Civil War's Battle of Mobile Bay, Union Admiral David Farragut defeats Confederate troops, proclaiming "Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead!"
1962: Actress Marilyn Monroe dies in Los Angeles from an overdose of sleeping pills.
1974: Tapes are released implicating Pres. Richard Nixon in the Watergate cover-up.
1981: Pres. Ronald Reagan dismisses federal air traffic controllers, who defied a back-to-work order after going on strike days earlier.

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August 4, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 4

This Day in History

1914: Pres. Woodrow Wilson proclaims U.S. neutrality in the European war (World War I ).
1964: The bodies of 3 civil rights workers, missing since June, are found buried in Mississippi.
1972: Arthur Bremer is convicted and sentenced to 63 years in prison for shooting AL Gov. George Wallace and 3 bystanders in May.
1977: Pres. Jimmy Carter signs an act creating a new cabinet-level Energy Dept.
2003: The first West African peacekeepers arrive in Liberia's capital to quell two months of continuous civil war, days after Pres. Charles Taylor announces he will step down.

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August 3, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 3

This Day in History

1492: Christopher Columbus sets sail from Spain aboard the Santa Maria.
1914: In World War I, Germany and France declare war on each other.
1981: Federal air traffic controllers walk out in an illegal nationwide strike.
1992: In South Africa, millions of blacks begin a 2-day general strike to show their support for ending white minority rule.

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August 2, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 2

This Day in History

1923: Pres. Warren G. Harding dies after falling ill; he is succeeded by Vice Pres. Calvin Coolidge.
1939: Albert Einstein writes a letter to Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt alerting him to the opportunity to construct an atomic bomb.
1945: The Potsdam Conference ends, with the leaders of the United States, the Soviet Union, and Britain agreeing on the disarmament of Germany, occupation zones, and war crimes trials.
1974: John Dean, former aide to Pres. Richard Nixon, is sentenced to 3 years in prison after pleading guilty in the Watergate cover-up.
1990: Saddam Hussein orders the Iraqi army to invade Kuwait, sparking an international crisis and Operation Desert Storm.

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August 1, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 1

This Day in History

1790: The first U.S. census is completed.
1876: Colorado is admitted to the Union as the 38th state.
1944: Anne Frank makes the last entry in her diary; she and her family are discovered in their hiding place 3 days later and taken to concentration camps.
1951: The United States suspends tariff concessions to the Soviet Union, Communist China , and all Communist-dominated lands.
1987: Mike Tyson defeats Tony Tucker, unifying boxing's heavyweight title.
2002: The U.S. Senate votes 64-34 to grant fast-track trade negotiating authority to Pres. George W. Bush. United Nations investigators announce they have found no evidence that the Israeli army massacred Palestinian civilians during a raid on the city of Jenin in April.
2003: A suicide bomber linked to Chechen separatists drives a truck through the gates of a military hospital in Mozdok, North Ossetia, Russia, killing 50.
2004: The U.S. government announces a threat alert on U.S. financial institutions after a Pakistan raid yields Al Qaeda materials. In Paraguay, hundreds were killed in a supermarket fire near the capital of Asuncion.

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July 31, 2007

This Day In History: July 31

This Day in History

1556: Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits ), dies in Rome.
1790: The U.S. Patent Office opens and issues the first U.S. patent.
1792: The cornerstone is laid for the Philadelphia Mint, the first U.S. government building.
1877: Thomas Edison receives a patent for his phonograph.
1914: In World War I, Germany declares war on Russia, France mobilizes its army and navy, and a general mobilization is declared for Austria-Hungary.
1948: New York International Airport (later renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport) is dedicated at Idlewild Field in New York.
1987: In Mecca, Saudi police clash with Iranian pilgrims; more than 400 die.

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July 30, 2007

This Day In History: July 30

This Day in History

1619: The House of Burgesses, the first representative assembly in the New World, is elected at Jamestown, VA.
1956: President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs a joint resolution of Congress authorizing "In God We Trust" as the national motto.
1965: President Lyndon B. Johnson signs a bill establishing Medicare.
1974: The House of Representatives votes to recommend the third article of impeachment against President Richard Nixon, charging him with defiance of committee subpoenas.
2002: Amid continuing corporate scandals, President George W. Bush signs a corporate governance reform bill.

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July 29, 2007

This Day In History: July 29

This Day in History

1907: Sir Robert Baden-Powell forms the Boy Scouts in England.
1958: Pres. Dwight Eisenhower signs legislation creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
1974: The House Judiciary Committee votes the second article of impeachment against Pres. Richard Nixon, 28-10, charging abuses of power.
1981: Congress passes Pres. Ronald Reagan's tax-cut legislation, which is expected to save taxpayers some $750 billion over a 5-year period. Watched by an estimated 750 million TV viewers, Britain's Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer are married in London 's St. Paul Cathedral.

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July 28, 2007

This Day In History: July 28

This Day in History

1794: The Reign of Terror ends in France with the guillotining of Maximilien Robespierre and some 70 others.
1821: South American revolutionary José de San Martín proclaims the independence of Peru .
1868: The 14th Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, guaranteeing full citizenship rights to African Americans and due process of law to all citizens.
1914: World War I officially begins when Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia.
1932: The Bonus Army—unemployed World War I veterans who marched on Washington demanding that Congress pay their bonuses in full—is evicted by U.S. Army cavalry, tanks, and infantry upon the order of Pres. Herbert Hoover.
1942: Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin issues his most famous order of the war, "Not a step back!", threatening Draconian punishments and calling for a "patriotic" war against the German invaders.
1984: The Summer Olympics open in Los Angeles, with the Soviet Union and more than a dozen of its allies boycotting the games.

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July 27, 2007

This Day In History: July 27

This Day in History

1789: The first U.S. federal government agency, the Department of Foreign Affairs, is established by Congress.
1804: The 12th Amendment is ratified, changing the method of electing the president and vice-president.
1866: A telegraph cable across the Atlantic is completed, establishing communication between the United States and England.
1953: Fighting ends in the Korean War with the signing of an armistice in Panmunjom.
1974: The House of Representatives votes to recommend the first article of impeachment against President Nixon, charging him with obstruction of justice.
1996: A bomb explodes in an Atlanta, GA, park filled with people attending the Summer Olympics, directly killing 1 person.

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July 26, 2007

This Day In History: July 26

This Day in History

1775: The Second Continental Congress establishes a postal system.
1788: New York becomes the 11th state to ratify the Constitution.
1947: Pres. Harry Truman signs a law uniting the Army, Navy, and Air Force as the National Military Establishment, directed by the secretary of defense, and creating the National Security Council and CIA.
1948: An executive order signed by Pres. Harry Truman ends racial segregation in the armed forces.
1953: Fidel Castro and a small group of revolutionaries unsuccessfully attack the Moncada army barracks in Santiago de Cuba.
1956: Egypt seizes control of the Suez Canal and is subsequently invaded by Israel, France, and Great Britain.
1973: Pres. Richard Nixon refuses to comply with subpoenas ordering him to turn over tapes of White House conversations on Watergate.
1990: The Americans With Disabilities Act is signed by Pres. George H. W. Bush, barring discrimination against the handicapped and requiring that public facilities be accessible.
2004: U.S. supercyclist Lance Armstrong wins the Tour de France for a record 6th consecutive year.

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July 25, 2007

This Day In History: July 25

This Day in History

1866: Ulysses S. Grant is named General of the Army, the first person to hold this rank.
1909: French engineer Louis Blériot flies across the English Channel in a monoplane that he has designed and built.
1944: During World War II, Allied forces break out of the Normandy beachhead established on D-Day (June 6), penetrating and then bypassing German lines.
1948: In a move widely regarded as marking the beginning of the Cold War, U.S. and British aircraft fly in food and supplies to Berlin, Germany, in response to the July 24 Soviet blockade of approaches from the West.
1952: Puerto Rico becomes a U.S. commonwealth.
1956: The Italian luxury liner Andrea Doria collides with the Swedish liner Stockholm off Cape Cod, MA, and sinks; some 50 people die, but more than 1,600 are rescued by other ships in the area.
1978: The first test-tube baby, Louise Brown, is born in England.
1984: Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya becomes the first woman to perform a spacewalk.
1999: American cyclist Lance Armstrong—diagnosed with cancer in 1996—wins the Tour de France.
2000: An Air France Concorde crashes shortly after takeoff from Paris, killing all 109 on board and 4 on the ground, marking the first fatal crash for the supersonic jetliner. The peace summit at Camp David between Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and Israeli Prime Min. Ehud Barak collapses in failure.

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July 24, 2007

This Day In History: July 24

This Day in History

1704: During the War of the Spanish Succession, Gibraltar is captured by combined English and Dutch forces.
1847: Brigham Young and the first Mormon pioneers arrive at Utah 's Salt Lake Valley.
1948: Soviet forces cut off roads and railways into Berlin, Germany, from the West.
1974: The Supreme Court rules, 8-0, that Pres. Richard Nixon must turn over 64 tapes of White House conversations to special prosecutor Leon Jaworski. The House Judiciary Committee begins holding televised hearings into the impeachment of Pres. Richard Nixon over Watergate.
1998: Russell Eugene Weston Jr. opens fire in the Capitol building, killing two police officers.
2001: Pope John Paul II meets with President George W. Bush and expresses opposition to the creation of human embryos for research.
2003: A report by a joint Congressional committee details intelligence lapses and other failures that preceded the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.

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July 23, 2007

This Day In History: July 23

This Day in History

1829: William Austin Burt of Michigan receives a patent for his typographer, the precursor to the typewriter.
1952: Army officers launch a revolution in Egypt, transforming the country from a monarchy to a republic.
1967: Riots begin in Detroit, MI; by July 30, more than 40 have died, 2,000 are injured, and 5,000 left homeless by rioting, looting, and burning in the city's black ghetto.
1974: The Greek military junta collapses.
1986: Britain's Prince Andrew marries Sarah Ferguson in London 's Westminster Abbey. The couple are named duke and duchess of York.
1999: With the launch of the space shuttle Columbia, Eileen Collins becomes the first woman to command a U.S. shuttle flight.
2000: Tiger Woods, 24, becomes the youngest golfer ever to achieve a Grand Slam—winning all 4 major golf tournaments.
2001: The Indonesian Legislature ousts President Abdurrahman Wahid after charges of widespread corruption.
2003: California announces a special election on recalling Governor Gray Davis.

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July 20, 2007

The Seven Wonders: New Style or Classic?

As Andy noted yesterday, we've all been so wrapped up in plotting out the next edition of the World Almanac that we haven't had much spare time for blogging. We're hoping to return to a regular (if somewhat lighter) posting schedule next week, so keep coming back!

7wonders.jpgFirst up on my personal list of blog-worthy events from recent months: the votes are in, and the NewOpenWorld Foundation has named The New Seven Wonders of the World (announced, naturally, on 7/7/07):

  • Chichen Itza (Yucatán, Mexico)
  • Christ the Redeemer (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
  • Great Wall of China (China)
  • Machu Picchu (Cuzco, Perú)
  • Petra (Jordan)
  • Roman Colosseum (Rome, Italy)
  • Taj Mahal (Agra, India)

Take the results with a grain of salt, since people could cast as many votes as they liked—and there is no connection with UNESCO's preservation-oriented World Heritage program. But the new list is an interesting collection, nevertheless. Surprised by any of the "winners," or by the conspicuous absence of other famous landmarks? Talk it up in the comments... and hit the jump for a little extra information on the "classic" Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, straight from The World Almanac.

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This Day In History: July 20

This Day in History

1871: British Columbia becomes part of the Confederation of Canada as the sixth province.
1881: Sioux Indian chief Sitting Bull surrenders to federal troops.
1944: A group of German officers and civilians try to assassinate Adolf Hitler by placing a bomb in his headquarters in East Prussia.
1951: Abdullah ibn Husein, king of Jordan, is assassinated by a Palestinian Arab.
1969: After making the first lunar landing, astronaut Neil Armstrong, commander of the Apollo 11 mission, becomes the first person to set foot on the Moon; he is followed by Edwin Aldrin.
1974: Turkey invades the island of Cyprus, which Greek officers seized a week earlier.
1976: Hank Aaron hits the 755th and final home run of his baseball career in Milwaukee's County Stadium.
1983: The House of Representatives formally censures two congressmen who admitted having affairs with congressional pages, Daniel Crane (R, IL) and Gerry Studds (D, MA).

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July 19, 2007

This Day In History: July 19

This Day in History

1848: A seminal women’s rights convention opens in Seneca Falls, NY.
1863: Union troops fail to capture Fort Wagner, SC; 1,515 Union troops die, in the battle that marks the first use of black soldiers in the Civil War.
1993: Pres. Bill Clinton announces a "don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue" policy for homosexuals in the U.S. military.
1999: A record heat wave begins in the eastern half of the United States; by August 1, at least 200 are dead.

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July 18, 2007

This Day In History: July 18

This Day in History

1918: In World War I 's Battle of the Marne, the Allies launch a counteroffensive at Château-Thierry, eventually resulting in a German retreat.
1925: Adolf Hitler publishes his manifesto, Mein Kampf.
1947: President Harry S. Truman signs the Presidential Succession Act, designating the speaker of the House and the president pro tempore of the Senate as next in line after the vice president.
1969: Senator Edward M. Kennedy drives his car off a narrow bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, MA, and his only passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, drowns. He is found guilty of leaving the scene of an accident.
1993: Japan 's Liberal Democratic Party, in office since 1955, loses its majority in parliament in general elections.
2003: Dr. David Kelly, a senior adviser to the British government, is found dead by his own hand after being named as the source for a BBC report that stated the government had exaggerated the danger of Iraq 's weapons programs.

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July 17, 2007

This Day In History: July 17

This Day in History

1945: The Potsdam Conference begins, with the leaders of the United States, the Soviet Union, and Britain agreeing on the disarmament of Germany, occupation zones, and war crimes trials.
1948: The States' Rights Party, made up of "Dixiecrats" opposed to Pres. Harry Truman 's civil rights agenda, forms; it nominates Strom Thurmond of South Carolina for president.
1955: Disneyland opens in Anaheim, California.
1989: The B-2 Stealth bomber makes its first successful test flight.
1996: TWA Flight 800 explodes off the coast of Long Island, New York, killing all 230 aboard.

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July 16, 2007

This Day In History: July 16

This Day in History

1790: Pres. George Washington signs legislation naming the District of Columbia as the permanent capital of the United States.
1918: In Russia, Czar Nicholas II and his family are executed by a firing squad on the order of the Bolsheviks.
1945: The first atomic bomb, produced at Los Alamos, NM, is tested in an explosion at a desert site in Alamogordo, NM.
1969: Apollo 11, the mission to land the first men on the Moon, is launched.
1988: At the U.S. Olympic Trials in Indianapolis, Florence Griffith Joyner runs the 100 meters in a record-smashing 10.49 seconds.
1999: John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and his sister-in-law Lauren Bessette die in a plane crash off Martha's Vineyard, MA, in a private plane piloted by Kennedy.

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July 15, 2007

This Day In History: July 15

This Day in History

1099: During the First Crusade, Jerusalem is taken by the Crusaders, who massacre virtually every inhabitant.
1410: Poles and Lithuanians inflict a decisive defeat on the Teutonic Knights at Tannenberg (Stebark, Poland ), marking the beginning of the decline of that order.
1870: The Northwest Territories enter the Canadian confederation.
1912: Amassing 8,412 points—800 more than his nearest competitor—Jim Thorpe wins the Olympic decathlon.
1916: William Boeing incorporated Pacific Aero Products, later named the Boeing Co.
1918: In World War I, the decisive Battle of the Marne begins when the Germans launch a major offensive.
1958: Two battalions of U.S. Marines are landed near Beirut during a two-day period to prevent Communist intervention in a rebellion then in progress in Lebanon.
1974: Greek army officers serving in the National Guard of Cyprus stage a coup on the island, hoping to unify it with Greece; the action ultimately leads to the overthrow of the Greek junta.
1987: Martial law is lifted in Taiwan after 38 years.
1992: Bill Clinton is nominated at the Democratic presidential convention in New York City.
1997: Serial killer Andrew Phillip Cunanan kills fashion designer Gianni Versace outside his Miami home.
2002: U.S. citizen John Walker Lindh pleads guilty to having fought as a soldier with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

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