Monday, May 31, 2010

POPnews - May 31st

[The original Mi'kmaq inhabitants of what is now Prince Edward Island called their home 'Abegweit', which meant 'cradled on the waves'; it would have made an excellent name for the Confederation Bridge as well, cradled as it is on the waves of the Abegweit Passage and replacing as it did the passenger ferry M/V Abegweit which used to bring people to and from the mainland before the so-called 'fixed link' was built. In the end the Government of Canada decided to underline the Island's role in Confederation yet again - PEI hosted the Charlottetown Conference in September 1864 that forged the Dominion of Canada out of British North America, an event already commemorated in the Confederation Trail among others - following the country's narrow victory in the 1995 Quebec referendum...]

1279 BCE - Rameses II (also known as Rameses the Great and Ozymandias) became pharaoh during Ancient Egypt's 19th Dynasty.
1223 - During the Mongol invasion of Cumania, at the Battle of the Kalka River, the Mongol armies of Genghis Khan led by Subutai defeated Kievan Rus and his Cumans.
1669 - Samuel Pepys made the last entry in his famous diary, insisting that his failing eyesight made it impossible to continue. He'd kept the diary for ten years, and lived for thirty years after its completion. It is available today online in blog form, and provides an invaluable glimpse into a truly exciting period of English history in precisely the way a typical blog doesn't.

1678 - The Godiva Procession - a ceremonial ride through her hometown of Coventry commemorating one legendarily taken by Lady Godiva in part to shame her husband Leofric for his harsh rule - began as part of the Coventry Fair; the ritual continued until 1826, when it was discontinued, although it was revived between 1848 and 1887, and continues to be observed to this day.

1775 - The Mecklenburg Resolutions were adopted in the Province of North Carolina; proclaiming that all laws originating from the king or Parliament were thereafter null and void, they were presented to the Continental Congress (then convening in Philadelphia) by Captain James Jack where they were received by the assembled delegates but not adopted as a whole. Given that they were made just a month after the hostilities at the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the (possibly legendary) Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence would be the first such document in American history - more than two years prior to that more famous Declaration of Independence that gets all the attention these days.

1790 - The United States enacted its first copyright statute, the Copyright Act of 1790, which was signed into law by President George Washington.

1813 - Australian explorers William Lawson, Gregory Blaxland and William Wentworth, reached Mount Blaxland, effectively blazing the first trail across the Blue Mountains, 20 days after they'd departed Sydney.

1884 - Corn Flakes were patented by John Harvey Kellogg, reputedly as a cure for masturbation. However, they're only effective dry, as anyone who's ever tried to masturbate with them will tell you; once they're soggy, though...

1889 - The Johnstown Flood killed 2,200 people in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

1902 - The Treaty of Vereeniging ended the Second Boer War and ensured British control of South Africa.

1910 - The Union of South Africa was created.

1911 - RMS Titanic was launched at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast.

1916 - The British Grand Fleet under the command of Sir John Jellicoe and Sir David Beatty engaged the Kaiserliche Marine under the command of Reinhard Scheer and Franz von Hipper at the Battle of Jutland in both the largest naval battle of World War I and the only direct clash of battleships during that conflict - even though it would prove indecisive. The battle remains embedded in the pop consciousness for two reasons: the sinking of the battleship the HMS Queen Mary and the service in the battle of her namesake's son, the future George VI, on board the HMS Collingwood.

1921 - A 16-hour race riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma, injured more than 800 people, left 10,000 homeless, destroyed 1,256 residences in 35 city blocks by fire, and caused $1.8 million in property damage (the equivalent of $17 million today). The official death toll of 39 (including 10 whites) has since been revised upwards; as many as 300 blacks (and maybe more) may have been killed in the melee.

1961 - The Republic of South Africa was created.

1962 - The West Indies Federation was dissolved; initially created by the United Kingdom in 1958 with the intention of making its ten member colonies a self-governing nation (in the Canadian and Australian model) it eventually collapsed owing to internal discord.

1981 -The burning of Sri Lanka's Jaffna Library was one of the most violent examples of ethnic biblioclasm in the 20th Century; in total 97,000 unique books and manuscripts of utmost importance to the Tamil people - one of the largest collections in Asia - were lost.

1997 - The Confederation Bridge - connecting Borden-Carleton in Prince Edward Island to mainland Canada at Cape Jourmain, New Brunswick - opened; previously the sole means of access to PEI had been via ferry from Pictou, Nova Scotia.  This service is still offered seasonally.

2005 - The identity of Deep Throat - the linchpin in the Watergate scandal who toppled the corrupt administration of President Richard Nixon - was revealed in Vanity Fair magazine to be W. Mark Felt.

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