Thursday, March 17, 2011

POPnews - March 17th

[As Attorney-General of New York, Eliot Spitzer led (amongst others) a campaign against high-end prostitution; his promising career as governor - which some said could have taken him all the way to the White House - cooled when, within weeks of his taking office in 2007, his inner douchebag (which had been so useful in his previous job) began to emerge and terrorize the sensitive burghers of Albany. A year later, on this day in 2008, Spitzer was busted for hypocrisy and hounded from office to live out the rest of his days in tabloid ignominy and on a very short leash indeed - one which his wife, alas, would be holding. Not hot...]

45 BCE - In his last victory, at the Battle of Munda - two days short of one year before his murder - Julius Caesar defeated the forces of Titus Labienus (who was killed that day, alongside 3,000 of his men) and Pompey the Younger (who was later captured and executed for treason).

180 CE - Marcus Aurelius died, leaving Commodus the sole emperor - although he wasn't murdered by Commodus as depicted in the Ridley Scott film Gladiator (2000).

1337 - Edward, the Black Prince, was made the first Duke of Cornwall; this was also England's first duchy - although it is not intended to be passed around the left hand side, but rather automatically to the eldest son of the sovereign by birthright.

1776 - At the outset of the American Revolution, following the 11-month long siege of Boston, British forces under General William Howe evacuated several thousand troops and loyalists after George Washington and Henry Knox fortified Dorchester Heights by placing artillery overlooking the city in order to secure what was then the busiest port in the Thirteen Colonies; the day is still commemorated there as Evacuation Day, which ties in quite nicely with the after-effects of drink copious quantities of green beer.

1805 - The Italian Republic, with Napoleon as president, became the Kingdom of Italy, with Napoleon as King. Coincidence? No... Not at all.

1845 - The rubber band was first patented, in England, by Stephen Perry.

1861 - The Kingdom of Italy (1861-1946) was proclaimed; its first King was Victor Emmanuel II of the House of Savoy. This is not to be confused with the Kingdom of Italy declared on this day in 1805 - see above - which was a vassal state of France, and did not comprise the entire Italian Peninsula (which even this one would not control until 1870).

1941 - The National Gallery of Art was officially opened by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in Washington, DC.

1950 - Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley announced the creation of element 98, which they named Californium.

1957 - A plane crash in Cebu killed Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay and 24 others.

1958 - The United States launched Vanguard 1 as part of Project Vanguard; the first solar-powered satellite, it is still aloft (although no longer is use), and is thus the oldest piece of space junk orbiting the Earth.

1959 - One week after an unsuccessful uprising in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, fled Tibet for India, hotly pursued by the Chinese, who have illegally occupied his country since 1950.

1966 - Off the Mediterranean coast of Spain the Alvin submarine found the fourth 70-kiloton warhead accidentally dropped during the Palomares Incident two months earlier, the other three having fallen on land, thankfully without detonating.

1969 - Golda Meir was sworn in as the first woman Prime Minister of Israel.

1979 - The Penmanshiel Tunnel - first opened in 1846 - collapsed during engineering improvements, killing two workers; the tunnel is no longer in use, its collapse having rather effectively, if drastically, closed it.

1985 - Having already raped and murdered Jennie Vincow, serial killer Richard Ramirez - aka the 'Night Stalker' - committed the second and third of his 14 murders, killing Maria Hernandez and Dayle Okazaki in a spree which terrorized Los Angeles prior to his capture on August 24th.

1992 - A suicide car-bomb killed 29 and injured 242 during an attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires.

2000 - The Ugandan cult Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God - a breakaway Catholic sect founded by Credonia Mwerinde and Joseph Kibweteere - celebrated what they considered to be the apocalypse by roasting and eating three bulls washed down with 70 crates of soft drinks before killing more than 800 of its members in an explosion.

2008 - New York Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned after a scandal involving a high-end prostitute; he was succeeded by Lieutenant-Governor David Paterson, whose own past was also less than pristine.

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