Tuesday, February 15, 2011

POPnews - February 15th

[The most indelible image from the funeral of George VI, on this day in 1952, was the sight of Three Queens - mother, widow, and heir - watching from the platform at Paddington Station in heavy mourning as the body of the King prepared to make its final journey to Windsor Castle.]

399 BCE - Socrates was sentenced to death, having been found guilty of corrupting the minds of the youth of Athens; interestingly, Socrates was the subject of history's first recorded impersonation, having been roundly lampooned in Aristophanes' comedy The Clouds - a tribute which would later contribute to his downfall. Socrates' chosen means of death was drinking a mix of the poisonous hemlock, a demise to which Seneca paid homage at his execution in 65 CE and which I can't help thinking of whenever I find myself walking along Vancouver's Hemlock Street.

1637 - Ferdinand III became Holy Roman Emperor, having already become King of Hungary-Croatia, King of Bohemia, and King of the Romans.

1764 - The city of St. Louis, Missouri, was established by Pierre Laclède de Liguest.

1898 - The USS Maine was sunk in Havana Harbour, killing more than 260, and prompting the Spanish-American War; the cause of the explosion which sank the vessel (and the identities of its perpetrators) remains unknown. Throughout the hostilities that followed 'Remember the Maine' became a well-known battle cry.

1903 - The first Teddy Bear was produced by Morris Michtom; sales of the stuffed animal were so brisk that Michtom (originally proprietor of a candy store in Brooklyn) founded the Ideal Toy Company in 1907.

1906 - The UK's Labour Representation Committee renamed itself the Labour Party after winning 29 seats in the House of Commons, with Keir Hardie among the first members of the new party to take his seat.

1933 - Giuseppe Zangara attempted to assassinate President-elect Franklin Delano Roosevelt at Bayfront Park in Miami; instead he shot Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak, who died 19 days later of his injuries.

1942 - The Fall of Singapore followed an invasion by Japanese forces, and when the British General Arthur Percival surrendered, about 80,000 Indian, British and Australian soldiers became prisoners of war; the largest surrender of British-led military personnel in history also prompted the Sook Ching massacre.

1952 - King George VI was buried in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle following a lying-in-state at Westminster Hall and a State Funeral; currently he rests in the George VI Memorial Chapel, alongside the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret.

1961 - Sabena Flight 548 crashed in Belgium, killing 73, including the entire US Figure Skating team, several coaches and family members.

1965 - The Canadian flag was adopted to replace the Red Ensign; the occasion is marked (or ought to be, anyway) as National Flag of Canada Day.

1971 - British currency was decimalized on Decimal Day.

1976 - The most recent Constitution of Cuba was adopted by a national referendum.

1980 - Television One and Television Two (formerly South Pacific Television) went to air for the first time as the newly created Television New Zealand.

1982 - The oil drilling rig Ocean Ranger sank during a storm off the coast of Newfoundland, killing 84 workers.

1989 - The Soviet Union officially announced that its attempted invasion of Afghanistan - begun in December 1979 - was over, with the last of its troops having left the country.

1991 - The Visegrád Agreement - establishing cooperation to move toward free-market systems - was signed by the leaders of Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland at a summit in the Hungarian castle town of Visegrád.

2003 - Between 8 million and 30 million people demonstrated for peace in more than 600 cities around the world, marking the largest anti-war protest in history.

2005 - YouTube went online.
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