Monday, April 12, 2010

POPnews - April 12th

[While few people had even heard of Terry Fox when he began the Marathon of Hope on this day in 1980, within weeks he was a national celebrity; by now - nearly thirty years after he was forced to quit his run just 143 days in, or at halfway across the country - he is Canada's greatest hero.]

467 CE - Anthemius was elevated to Emperor of the Western Roman Empire.

1204 - The Fourth Crusade captured Constantinople, thus ending the Byzantine Empire, if only temporarily.

1557 - The city of Cuenca in Ecuador was founded by Gil Ramírez Dávalos.

1606 - The Union Jack was adopted as the flag of Great Britain - although it's only called a Union Jack when it's flying from a ship's mast. At all other times it's called the Union flag.

1861 - The American Civil War began when Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter, in the harbor of Charleston.

1864 - During the American Civil War, Confederate forces under Nathan Bedford Forrest and James R. Chalmers massacred most of the African American soldiers who'd surrendered to them at Tennessee's Fort Pillow.

1917 - During World War I, Canadian forces successfully took Vimy Ridge from the Germans; the victory - at the end of three days of fierce fighting (and at a cost of 3,598 killed with 7,004 wounded on the Canadian side alone) - is considered to have been a pivotal moment in the emergence of Canada as a world power. The battle is commemorated at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France (which was rededicated by the Queen of Canada in 2007) and is the subject of Pierre Berton's aptly-titled work of populist history, Vimy.

1927 - Believing a Communist takeover of China to be imminent, Chiang Kai-shek purged them from the ranks of the Kuomintang; untold hundreds were killed and untold thousands went missing during the April 12 Incident. The massacre ended China's First United Front yet only postponed the Communist onslaught by a generation.

1934 - The strongest surface wind gust in history - 231 mph - was measured by the staff of the Mount Washington Observatory on the summit of New Hampshire's Mount Washington.

1935 - The Bristol Blenheim had its maiden flight.

1937 - English aviator and inventor Sir Frank Whittle ground-tested the first jet engine designed to power an aircraft, at Rugby.

1961 - Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into outer space, on board the Soviet Union's Vostok 1; the event is still commemorated the world over as Yuri's Night.

1968 - Following an accident involving VX nerve gas at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah's Skull Valley, 4,372 sheep died - of which 2,150 had to be euthanized, and a further 1,877 were rendered unsalable due to their exposure - during what came to be known as the Dugway sheep incident.

1980 - Terry Fox began his Marathon of Hope run across Canada in aid of cancer research by dipping his artificial leg into the Atlantic Ocean at St. John's, Newfoundland.

1981 - Columbia's STS-1 mission became the first for NASA's Space Shuttle program.

1992 - Disneyland Resort Paris - more commonly called Euro Disney - opened in the eastern suburbs of Paris, and was the second international Disney resort property (the first being Tokyo Disney Resort).

1994 - The legal firm of Canter & Siegel - husband Laurence Canter and wife Martha Siegel - posted the Internet's first commercial mass spam mailing on over 6,000 Usenet groups; entitled Green Card Lottery - Final One? and using a script written by a programmer known only as 'Jason', their actions set in motion a near crippling of the Internet. Not only does spam cost US business alone $13 billion it results in a slower service all around, and is rightly reviled as a practice despite being virtually unstoppable.

2002 - Pedro Carmona became interim President of Venezuela during a coup attempt against Hugo Chávez.

2007 - The Kremlin vetoed an investigation into the March 1968 death of Yuri Gagarin, who was - as previously noted - the first man in space.
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