Saturday, March 19, 2011

POPnews - March 19th

[Although the Sydney Harbour Bridge was set to be officially opened by Jack Lang, the Labour premier of New South Wales, on this day in 1932 it was actually opened by a nutjob named Francis de Groot, himself a member of the ultra-right New Guard, who interrupted the ceremony by riding up on horseback and slashing the ribbon with a sword, declaring the bridge open 'in the name of the decent and respectable people of New South Wales'. He was promptly arrested and, after being declared sane, fined £5 for trespassing. Meanwhile, the ribbon was promptly retied and dutifully re-cut by Lang.]

1279 - A Mongolian victory at the Battle of Yamen ended China's Song Dynasty.

1286 - Scotland's King Alexander III died; his succession, by his grand-daughter Margaret, the 'Maid of Norway', was disputed to the degree that is has been held responsible for the Wars of Scottish Independence - a situation not even settled by her death in 1290 and the inauguration of her successor John Balliol in November 1292.

1687 - While searching for the mouth of the Mississippi River along the Gulf Coast of Texas, explorer Robert Cavelier de La Salle was murdered by Pierre Duhaut, one of his own men, during a mutiny.

1721 - Pope Clement XI died; he was succeeded by Pope Innocent XIII on May 8th.

1863 - The SS Georgiana - said to have been the most powerful Confederate cruiser - was sunk on her maiden voyage with cargo of munitions, medicines and merchandise then valued at over $1,000,000; the wreck was discovered on the same day and month, exactly 102 years later by then teenage diver and pioneer underwater archaeologist E. Lee Spence.

1865 - The Battle of Bentonville began, during the American Civil War; by the end of the battle two days later, Confederate forces had retreated from Four Oaks, North Carolina.

1915 - Pluto was photographed for the first time - at the Lowell Observatory - but was not recognized at the time as a planet.

1931 - The Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra played its first concert at the William Penn High School in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

1932 - Australia's Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened.

- The 99th Pursuit Squadron - also known as the Tuskegee Airmen, the first all-black unit of the Army Air Corp - was activated.

1943 - Frank Nitti - Chicago Outfit second in command under Al Capone - committed suicide at the Chicago Central Railyard.

1945 - Allied forces having irrevocably turned the tide of World War II against him, Adolf Hitler issued the Nero Decree, ordering all industries, military installations, shops, transportation facilities and communications facilities in Germany to be destroyed.

1958 - The Monarch Underwear Company fire in Manhattan left 24 dead and 15 injured.

1969 - The 385 metre (1,263 ft) tall television mast at Emley Moor collapsed due to ice build-up.

1979 - The US House of Representatives began broadcasting its day-to-day business via the cable television network C-SPAN.

1982 - Argentinian naval forces landed on South Georgia, precipitating the Falklands War.

1987 - Televangelist Jim Bakker resigned as head of the PTL Club due to a brewing sex scandal; he handed over control to Jerry Falwell, himself a bastion of those Christian virtues of forgiveness and tolerance.

2004 - Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian was shot the day before that country's presidential election; relatively unharmed, he went on to win the next day's election by a slim margin.

2008 - A gamma-ray burst dubbed GRB 080319B that was the farthest object visible to the naked eye was briefly observed.

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