Tuesday, November 30, 2010

POPnews - November 30th

[As it snakes its silvery way 42 kilometres (27 miles) across the Niagara Escarpment from Port Colborne on Lake Erie to Port Weller on Lake Ontario it's easy to forget the very practical purpose the Welland Canal serves; although not initially part of the St. Lawrence Seaway, it nevertheless made its fellow engineering marvel possible by allowing shipping a way around the precipitous, if lovely, cataracts of Niagara Falls.  By opening up trade possibilities between Central Canada and the world - and for many decades at that - it made Ontario the engine of the Canadian economy. And, unlike its equally impressive cousin the Erie Canal, it's still in heavy use.]

1700 - At the Battle of Narva a Swedish relief army of 8,500 men under Charles XII, Carl Gustav Rehnskiöld, and Otto Vellingk defeated a much larger Russian siege force commanded by Charles Eugène de Croÿ, Ivan Trubetskoy, Adam Veyde, Boris Sheremetev, Alexander of Imereti, and Avtomon Golovin early in the conflict which came to be known as the Great Northern War.

1718 - Swedish king Charles XII died during a siege of the Norway's Fredriksten fortress.

1783 - A 5.3 magnitude earthquake struck New Jersey.

1786 - Peter Leopold Joseph of Habsburg-Lorraine, Grand Duke of Tuscany and future Holy Roman Emperor, promulgated a penal reform that made his the first country to abolish the death penalty; because of this, November 30 is commemorated by 300 cities around the world as Cities for Life Day.

1824 - At the behest of William Hamilton Merritt, construction began on the Welland Canal.

1829 - The first incarnation of the Welland Canal opened for its trial run; five years to the day after construction began the schooner Annie & Jane made the inaugural trip with the canal's instigator William Hamilton Merritt aboard.

1868 - The inauguration of a statue of Sweden's King Charles XII took place in Stockholm's Kungsträdgården, 159 years after he was exiled to the Ottoman Empire following a crushing defeat at the Battle of Poltava and upon the sesquicentenary of his death; in recent years the statue has been the focal point of neo-Nazi rallies on this date, which clashes with police and members of left-wing groups have shattered the tranquility of the Swedish capital.

1934 - The steam locomotive Flying Scotsman became the first to officially exceed 100mph.

1936 - The Crystal Palace - crown jewel of Sydenham Hill - was destroyed by fire; originally built for the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London's Hyde Park, Joseph Paxton's architectural whimsy of wrought iron and glass was enlarged upon its removal to Penge Common in 1854.

1940 - Lucille Ball married Desi Arnaz in Greenwich, Connecticut.

1943 - At the Tehran Conference US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin agreed to the planned June 1944 invasion of Europe code-named Operation Overlord.

1953 - Edward Mutesa II, the kabaka of Buganda, was deposed and exiled to London by Sir Andrew Cohen, Governor of Uganda.

1954 - In Sylacauga, Alabama, the Hodges Meteorite - itself a fragment of the Sylacauga meteorite - crashed into the home of Ann Elizabeth Hodges and struck her during her afternoon nap, in the only documented case of a human being hit by a rock from space; while badly bruised on one side she walked away from the accident, although a nearby console radio was destroyed.

1961 - Burma's U Thant was elected the third Secretary-General of the United Nations, following the death of his successor, Dag Hammarskjöld, in a plane crash the previous September.

1966 - Barbados gained its independence from the United Kingdom, with Errol Barrow serving as Elizabeth II's last Premier and first Prime Minister there; lowering the Union Flag and raising the Broken Trident on behalf of Her Majesty that day was HRH the Duke of Kent, who also opened the country's Parliament during the same visit.

1967 - Zulfikar Ali Bhutto founded the Pakistan Peoples Party; its previous leader was his daughter Benazir Bhutto, and its current leadership is split between its founder's grandson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and son-in-law Asif Ali Zardari, the country's 12th president.

1999 - In Seattle, protests against the WTO Meeting by anti-globalization protesters caught police unprepared, forcing the cancellation of its opening ceremonies. These events have inspired not only a documentary called Breaking the Spell - shot live during the riot by Tim Lewis, Tim Ream, and Sir Chuck A. Rock - but also the Charlize Theron vehicle Battle in Seattle, directed by her longtime squeeze Stuart Townsend.

2004 - Longtime Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings finally lost, leaving him with $2,520,700 - television's all-time biggest game show haul.

2007 - Leeland Eisenberg entered the presidential campaign office of Hillary Clinton in Rochester, New Hampshire, with a device suspected of being a bomb and held six people hostage for 5 hours.
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