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Re: On This Day

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » February 29, 2024, 10:05 am

on this day

In 1692 a slave, a homeless beggar and a poor elderly woman were the first people to be accused of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts. They were interrogated the next day. Between 1692 and 1693 more than 150 people were imprisoned for “Certaine Detestable Arts called Witchcrafts & Sorceryes”, and 20 executed; in 1880 workmen from Switzerland and Italy met after making the breakthrough hole in the construction of the nine-mile St Gotthard railway tunnel. Work had begun in 1872 and was completed in 1882; in 1924 Emily Ruete, the 36th child of a sultan, died, aged 79, in Germany. After falling pregnant to a German merchant (whom she later married), she fled Zanzibar aboard HMS Highflyer. Her Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar (1886) is the first-known autobiography of an Arab woman, charting a world of slave trading, harems and court intrigue; in 1984 Pierre Trudeau announced that he had decided to resign, after more than 15 years as prime minister of Canada. He officially stood down on June 30, 1984; in 2020 the US signed a deal with Taliban insurgents in Qatar (the Doha agreement) to pave the way towards withdrawing foreign troops from Afghanistan and ending the 18-year war in the country. Complete withdrawal took place on August 30, 2021.


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Re: On This Day

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » March 1, 2024, 11:31 am

on this day

In 589, according to tradition, David (Dewi Sant, Saint David, the patron saint of Wales), died. He founded a monastery where St Davids stands today and was canonised in 1120; in 1872 the US president Ulysses S Grant established America’s first national park, Yellowstone. The 2.2 million-acre wilderness is located in parts of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming; in 1954 the US tested a hydrogen bomb, vaporising a Bikini atoll, part of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific. Castle Bravo was the largest thermonuclear device detonated by the US — a serious miscalculation produced a 15-megaton yield; in 1959 Archbishop Makarios III, leader of Cyprus’s Greek community, returned to the island after nearly three years in exile. He served as the first president of Cyprus (1960-74, 1974-77); in 1966 the Soviet space probe Venera 3 crash-landed on Venus. It was the first spacecraft to make contact with another planet.

Nature notes

Anyone putting the washing out at this time of year may well hear the familiar chacker chack chack calls of the fieldfare. Having been with us all winter, these large members of the thrush family are now making their leisurely way eastwards. Eventually reaching the North Sea, the grey-headed, chestnut-backed birds will then fly to their Fennoscandia breeding grounds. Here, they will breed in loose colonies, which give some defence against predators. Highly vigilant, the fieldfares band together at the sight of a magpie or crow, and nosily “escort” them away from the nesting area. A favourite tactic is to defecate on their assailants. The sticky excrement dries on the predator’s wings and impairs flight, and deters them from repeating the attack. Jonathan Tulloch

The Times

Also, 0202-02-28 BC Coronation ceremony of Liu Bang as Emperor Gaozu of Han takes place, initiating four centuries of the Han Dynasty's rule over China
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Re: On This Day

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » March 2, 2024, 11:02 am

on this day

Today

In 1933 The landmark monster movie individual Kong had its world premiere; in addition to pioneering special effects by Willis O’Brien, it was the first significant feature film to star an animated character; in 1956 the French-Moroccan Agreement was signed in Paris, which led to Morocco establishing its independence, having been a protectorate of France and Spain since 1912; in 1969 the French prototype of Concorde flew from Toulouse, France, for 27 minutes on her maiden test flight, piloted by André Turcat (obituary, January 14, 2016); in 1972 the space probe Pioneer 10 was launched in Florida. It became the first spacecraft to travel through the asteroid belt and obtain close-up images of Jupiter. The craft carries a pictorial message.

Tomorrow

In 1924 Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, president of Turkey, abolished the caliphate (the Islamic leadership of the Ottoman sultans). The Times reported that the “abstract notion of Caliphate is said to be contained in the abstract notion of government. In other words, the Caliphate is now somewhat in the position of a crystal which has been dissolved in a glass of water”; in 1966 the BBC announced plans to broadcast TV programmes in colour, overseen by the BBC2 controller David Attenborough, starting with Wimbledon on July 1, 1967, of a men’s singles match between Cliff Drysdale and Roger Taylor; in 1985 the National Union of Mineworkers, led by Arthur Scargill, voted to end a year-long industrial dispute, without a deal having been agreed over pit closures; in 2009 the Sri Lanka cricket team and Test umpires were attacked by gunmen as they made their way to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, Pakistan, before the start of the third day of the Second Test v Pakistan. Six policemen and a driver were killed and eight tour members were injured.
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Re: On This Day

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » March 4, 2024, 11:20 am

on this day

In 1675 individual Charles II appointed John Flamsteed as “astronomical observator”, the first astronomer royal. On August 10 1675 Flamsteed laid the foundation stone of the Royal Observatory, on the site of Greenwich Castle; in 1824 the National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck was founded (Royal National Lifeboat Institution from 1854), in the London Tavern, Bishopsgate, London; in 1875 Blanche Bruce, born into slavery and later a plantation owner, became the first African-American senator (Republican, Mississippi, to March 4, 1881) to serve a full term. In 1878 he and his socialite wife toured Europe, including visiting London, on their honeymoon, going on to found “America’s first true black dynasty”. He died on March 17, 1898; in 1997 President Clinton banned federal funding for research into human cloning; in 2009 the International Criminal Court issued the first arrest warrant against a sitting head of state, to the Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir for alleged war crimes in the Darfur region of Sudan including genocide and crimes against humanity.

Nature notes

A large bird of prey flies low over the marsh before plunging down, talons outstretched, and plucking something small out of the reeds — perhaps a frog, a fish or a small mammal. Its silhouette is rather like a buzzard’s with broad wings and a fan-shaped tail, but its colouration is quite different: it has a pale head and black tips to its wings. Once an uncommon summer visitor, more and more marsh harriers are spending the winter here these days, largely in the fens of East Anglia, while from just one breeding female in 1971 numbers have increased to over 400 pairs in summer, mainly in the east but with a few dotted around elsewhere in the UK. Melissa Harrison

M
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Re: On This Day

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » March 5, 2024, 11:22 am

on this day

In 1764 is one of the earliest-known dates for the celebration of St Piran’s Day, the feast day of Saint Piran and the national day of Cornwall. It was originally observed by the tin-miners of Cornwall and the flag of Cornwall (Saint Piran’s Flag) is linked to the 5th-century Cornish abbot; in 1815 Franz Mesmer, who pioneered “animal magnetism” (mesmerism, a forerunner of hypnotism) died aged 80. Maria Theresia von Paradis, a pianist friend of Mozart who lost her sight at an early age, was claimed to have had her condition temporarily improved after treatment by Mesmer — however, a scandal led him to flee to Paris in 1778. Louis XVI’s concerns over methods used to treat Marie Antoinette, his queen, forced Mesmer into exile; in 1949 Donald Bradman played his last innings in first-class cricket; in 1966, 124 people died when a Boeing 707 (BOAC Flight 911) crashed into Mount Fuji, shortly after take-off from Tokyo. A last-minute cancellation of tickets had been made by Albert R Broccoli and Harry Saltzman and their team on a location trip to Japan for the Bond film You Only Live Twice.

Nature notes

Lumpsuckers are extraordinarily ugly fish. Grey, shaped like a rugby ball and covered in warty protuberances, they are relatively common around Britain’s beaches, especially along rocky parts of the coastline. On their bellies is a circular sucker made of fused ventral fins, so strong that a lumpsucker can be firmly attached to a vertical surface. This comes into play in the breeding season: after the females have laid their eggs and returned to deeper waters the males guard the egg masses for six weeks, aerating the water around them with their fins while using their sucker to attach themselves to rocks so they are not swept away. Sadly, their dedication makes male lumpsuckers easy pickings for predators like gulls and otters. Melissa Harrison
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Re: On This Day

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » March 6, 2024, 10:41 am

on this day

In 1957 Ghana became independent from Britain. It’s first leader Kwame Nkrumah was in office from 1957 to 1966; in 1961 the ukulele-playing star George Formby died of a heart attack, aged 56. The UK’s highest-paid entertainer at his peak, his films include Spare a Copper (1940) and George in Civvy Street (1946); in 1970 the UK government announced a ban on the importation of dogs and cats, after a dog with rabies had been imported from Pakistan.
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Re: On This Day

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » March 7, 2024, 12:07 pm

on this day

In 1896 Gilbert and Sullivan’s last collaboration, the opera The Grand Duke, or The Statutory Duel, premiered at the Savoy Theatre, London, and ran for 123 performances; in 1897 Harriet Jacobs, an African-American abolitionist and former fugitive slave, died aged 84. Her autobiography, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861), describes spending seven years in a “tiny crawlspace” to hide from her abusive owner. In 1846 she spent time in England, writing that “I never saw the slightest symptom of prejudice against colour”; in 1944 Emanuel Ringelblum, a Jewish historian who created an archive of life in the Warsaw Ghetto, was executed aged 43 after being imprisoned by the Gestapo. The archives, codenamed Oneg Shabbat, were buried in three secret locations. Two of three milk churns containing materials and documents have been unearthed. The ghetto was formed on November 15, 1940. More than 400,000 Jews were forced into a small area, where 100,000 died of starvation and disease; in 1965 the first episode of Round the Horne was broadcast. Kenneth Horne presided over the cast, which included Kenneth Williams, Hugh Paddick, Betty Marsden and Bill Pertwee.
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Re: On This Day

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » March 9, 2024, 12:52 pm

on this day

In 1741 Edward “Old Grog” Vernon, a British admiral, began an assault on the Spanish fortified town of Cartagena (now the fifth-largest city in Colombia). To keep his sailors healthy he added lime juice (hence “limeys”) to the daily ration of rum and water, which became known as “grog”; in 1849 the Last Treaty of Lahore was signed, ceding the Sikh kingdom of the Punjab to Britain, through the East India Company, and ownership of the Koh-i-noor diamond, a prized spoil of war since at least the 1740s. On February 14, 2023, Buckingham Palace stated that the controversial diamond would not be used in the coronation of Charles III and Queen Camilla; in 1950 Timothy Evans was executed by hanging for the murder of his wife and infant daughter – largely based on the testimony of John Christie, a neighbour (at 10 Rillington Place, Notting Hill, London) later exposed as a serial killer and necrophile. Evans, who died aged 25, was granted a posthumous pardon in October 1966; in 1956 British police deported Archbishop Makarios from Cyprus to the Seychelles on charges of fostering terrorism; in 1987 the first series of BBC comedy French and Saunders began, starring Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.
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Re: On This Day

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » March 11, 2024, 11:58 am

on this day

In AD222 Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (aka Elagabalus, Heliogabalus) was assassinated aged 18, having been emperor of Rome since AD218, with his body thrown into the Tiber. His short reign was notable for his eccentric behaviour: according to Edward Gibbon, he “abandoned himself to the grossest pleasures with ungoverned fury” (Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1776); in 1702 The Daily Courant, England’s first daily national newspaper, was published from premises near Fleet Street; in 1851 the opera Rigoletto, by Giuseppe Verdi, was premiered at La Fenice Theatre in Venice, and was an immediate success; in 1958 a nuclear bomb was accidentally dropped from a US air force B-47 on South Carolina. Safety devices prevented detonation — the “broken arrow” landed in the backyard of the Gregg family, who suffered minor injuries, and killed some of their chickens; in 2004 train bombings in Madrid killed 191 and injured at least 1,800 when militants linked to al-Qaeda detonated multiple devices on four rush-hour trains in the Spanish capital.

Nature notes

Once considered functionally extinct across most of England, pine martens are breeding at several sites in the New Forest. Cameras were hidden in 11 places across the national park and thousands of hours of footage analysed, also revealing glimpses of polecats, another species that was almost eradicated and seems to be making a quiet comeback. Pine martens were reintroduced from Scotland to Wales in 2015 and then to Gloucestershire in 2019. At first, they were tracked with radio collars and then monitored via cameras and scat surveys, which confirmed that they predate grey squirrels — especially in breeding season. It’s not clear where the New Forest’s martens came from, though sightings there date back as far as 1993. Melissa Harrison
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Re: On This Day

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » March 13, 2024, 12:02 pm

on this day

In 1926 the English aviator Alan Cobham landed at Croydon aerodrome, having completed the 16,000-mile flight to Cape Town and back; in 1930 the Lowell Observatory in Arizona announced the astronomer Clyde Tombaugh’s discovery of a ninth planet. In 2006 Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet; in 1943 the order was given for the “liquidation” of the Krakow ghetto. Over two days, 2,000 Jews were killed in the streets or sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and a similar number sent to a labour camp; in 1998 Israel allowed Mordechai Vanunu out of solitary confinement for the first time in 12 years, after his imprisonment for telling The Sunday Times of Israel’s secret nuclear weapons programme.
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Re: On This Day

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » March 14, 2024, 1:31 pm

0221-03-15 Liu Bei, a Chinese warlord and member of the Han royal house, declares himself Emperor of Shu-Han, claiming legitimate succession to the Han Dynasty
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Re: On This Day

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » March 15, 2024, 9:57 am

on this day

In 1536 Ibrahim Pasha, an enslaved Christian who became a grand vizier of the Ottoman empire for 13 years, was executed in his early 40s after his downfall was plotted by the sultan’s wife; in 1909 the American entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge opened a department store in London. In 1925 he was the first retailer to bring televisions to British customers. The Times reported on “the pleasant habit of the shop assistants in refraining from asking what they could do for one”; in 1917 Czar Nicholas II, the last emperor of Russia, abdicated. The Romanov dynasty had ruled for more than 300 years; in 1919 the American Legion, Paris, was formed by members of the American Expeditionary Force as an organisation to improve troop morale.

Nature notes

Just a few, moss-covered stones remain of the old dwelling place that stood for centuries on the hill. The people are long gone and you have to look at Victorian maps to realise that a farm and its family once stood here. But the occupants of this isolated place left something behind. Over the years, the snowdrops they once grew in their small garden have slowly spread, and now spill down the hill. Soon, this white carpet will have died back, but today it is still a sight to lift the soul. The people also left behind the ring of sycamores that guard the house like friendly giants. In the uplands of northern England people often planted sycamores to act as wind breaks. Jonathan Tulloch

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Re: On This Day

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » March 16, 2024, 9:56 am

on this day

Today

In 1521 the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan sighted the Philippine archipelago, the first European to do so. On April 27, 1521, he was killed during a skirmish with a tribe on Mactan Island; in 1935, in violation of the Treaty of Versailles, Adolf Hitler announced his decision to rebuild Germany’s air force and reinstate conscription, as “defensive” measures. On March 7, 1936, his armed forces entered the demilitarised Rhineland buffer zone between Germany and France; in 1953 Marshal Josip Tito, the leader of Yugoslavia, arrived in London for a five-day state visit, the first by a leader of a communist country to a western country; in 1999 all 20 members of the European Commission resigned after a scathing report into fraud and cronyism accused them of losing control of the 19,000-strong administration in Brussels.

Tomorrow

In 1969 Golda Meir became the first female prime minister of Israel, aged 70. Facing criticism for the way she handled the breakout of war between Israeli and Arab forces in 1973, she resigned in 1974; in 1984 the Boat Race was postponed after the Cambridge vessel sank following a collision with a moored barge. The race took place the next day, with Oxford crossing the finish line first; in 1999 Rod Hull, the variety entertainer best known for his ventriloquist act with a life-sized puppet Emu, died aged 63. Hull had fallen from the roof of his home while trying to adjust a TV aerial; in 2014 Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, signed a decree recognising the autonomous Ukrainian region of Crimea as a sovereign state, paving the way for it to be absorbed into Russia. The US imposed sanctions on Russia the same day the decree was signed.
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Re: On This Day

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » March 19, 2024, 10:45 am

on this day

In 1877 Australia beat England by 45 runs at the close of the first official cricket Test match, which began on March 15 at Melbourne Cricket Ground; in 1932 Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened. Before the bridge could be officially declared open by premier Jack Lang, the fascist Francis Edward de Groot charged on to the bridge on horseback and cut the ribbon with a cavalry sword. He was fined £5; in 1959 Marilyn Monroe arrived in Chicago to begin a promotional tour for Some Like it Hot. The film was directed by Billy Wilder and co-starred Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. It was nominated for six Oscars, winning one for best costume design; in 2002 Zimbabwe was suspended from membership of the Commonwealth after irregularities around the re-election on March 6 of that year of Robert Mugabe to the presidency, including politically motivated violence. When the Commonwealth refused to lift its one-year suspension, the country withdrew from the association on December 7, 2003.
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Re: On This Day

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » March 20, 2024, 1:18 pm

on this day

In 1819 the Burlington Arcade in Piccadilly, London, opened, enabling Lord George Cavendish (Earl of Burlington from 1831) and other “genteel folk” to shop in a covered promenade. Whistling is still banned, a tradition from when prostitutes alerted pickpockets to the approach of a beadle, who were veterans from the Battle of Waterloo; in 1852 Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published, selling 300,000 copies in the US in its first year in print. In 1853 she was hailed a sensation on her UK tour; in 1873 William Brydon, the only European survivor of 16,000 soldiers and civilians in the 1842 retreat from Kabul during the first Anglo-Afghan War, died aged 61. He was an assistant surgeon in the British East India Company; in 1926 Scotland beat England to win rugby’s Calcutta Cup for the first time at Twickenham with a 17-9 victory; in 1945 Lord Alfred Douglas (Bosie), poet and lover of Oscar Wilde, died aged 74. The phrase “The love that dare not speak its name” appeared in his poem Two Loves, written in 1892, and was used against Wilde during the trial for gross indecency that began on April 26, 1895.
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Re: On This Day

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » March 21, 2024, 11:55 am

on this day

In 1349 the massacre of more than 100 members of the Jewish community took place in Erfurt, Germany, during a period when Jews were blamed for outbreaks of the Black Death; in 1748 Englishman John Newton, during a perilous storm, began a journey to salvation from being enslaved to a west African princess and also serving on slave ships to becoming an abolitionist, pastor and hymn writer. His most famous hymn includes the words: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, Was blind but now I see”; in 1829 the Duke of Wellington (then prime minister) discharged his pistol first in a duel with the Earl of Winchilsea (neither man was injured, with the earl then firing into the air). The disagreement was over religious differences and the founding of individual’s College London; in 1844 the second coming of Christ failed to occur, despite the prediction of the American preacher William Miller (whose teachings led to the founding of the Seventh-day Adventists) that it would happen between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844; in 1925 Austin Peay, the governor of Tennessee, ratified a law (the Butler Act) forbidding the teaching of Darwin’s theory of evolution in state schools. The story of the ensuing trial of a biology teacher was dramatised in the 1960 film Inherit the Wind starring Spencer Tracy, Fredric March and Gene Kelly.
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Re: On This Day

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » March 26, 2024, 10:17 am

on this day

In 1827 Ludwig van Beethoven, the German composer and pianist, died aged 56. About 20,000 mourners attended the funeral procession in Vienna, with his fellow composer Franz Schubert among the torchbearers. Schubert died the next year aged 31 and was buried next to Beethoven; in 1923 Sarah Bernhardt, the French actress who made several theatrical world tours and was one of the first to star in moving pictures, died aged 78 in Paris. Her funeral was attended by 30,000 people. She divided opinion, but Mark Twain wrote: “There are five kinds of actresses. Bad actresses, fair actresses, good actresses, great actresses, and then there is Sarah Bernhardt”; in 1981 the Gang of Four, Roy Jenkins, David Owen, William Rodgers and Shirley Williams, launched the Social Democratic Party; in 1999 the Melissa worm overloaded e-mail servers. The worm’s creator was eventually caught, fined and sentenced to 20 months’ imprisonment. Melissa was named after a lap dancer he had met; in 2015 Saudi-led forces began airstrikes against Iran-backed Shia Houthi fighters who seized Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, in 2014 in an attempt to remove President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi from power.
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Re: On This Day

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » March 27, 2024, 12:31 pm

on this day

In 1790 Harvey Kennedy, an Englishman, took out a patent for the aglet (the sheath at each end of a shoelace); in 1794 the US president George Washington signed the Naval Act of 1794 into law. The US navy was created in response to attacks and enslavement of US citizens by Barbary pirates from north Africa; in 1916 the College of Nursing was founded with 34 members. It was granted a royal charter in 1928 but, because of opposition from other nursing groups, was not allowed to use “royal” in the title until it was approved by individual George VI in 1939. The Royal College of Nursing has a membership of more than half a million nurses, midwives, nursing support workers and students; in 1984 the musical Starlight Express had its premiere at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, London, and closed in 2002 after 7,409 performances; in 2004 the decommissioned frigate HMS Scylla was scuttled to create an artificial reef in Whitsand Bay in Cornwall.
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Re: On This Day

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » March 28, 2024, 10:58 am

on this day

In 1963 the premiere of Alfred Hitchcock’s film The Birds took place in New York City, with 1,000 homing pigeons released to promote the event. At the London premiere on August 29, 1963, the promotion included two flamingos and six penguins — and as the audience left the cinema, the sound of screeching and flapping birds came from loudspeakers hidden in trees; in 1969 Dwight D Eisenhower, Second World War military commander and the 34th US president (1953-61), died in the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC, aged 78; in 1979 there was a radiation leak at Three Mile Island nuclear power station in Pennsylvania. Its aftermath led to several changes, including emergency response planning; in 1979 the Labour prime minister James Callaghan (obituary, March 28, 2005) lost a parliamentary vote of no confidence by one vote. An early general election in May was won by the Conservative Party, led by Margaret Thatcher (obituary, April 8, 2013); in 1983 Ian MacGregor was appointed National Coal Board chairman. He took up his new role on September 1, 1983, after leading the British Steel Corporation. The shadow energy secretary John individual said it was an “extraordinarily foolish appointment”, which caused controversy with miners’ unions.
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Re: On This Day

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » March 29, 2024, 10:41 am

on this day

In 1848 strong winds blew huge amounts of ice across Lake Erie that led to Niagara Falls running dry for 30 hours. People carried lit torches across the brink of the Horseshoe and American Falls; in 1849 the Punjab was officially brought under British rule, ending the reign of Duleep Singh, the fifth and last maharajah of the Sikh empire. A former owner of the Koh-i-noor diamond, he moved to the UK where he was granted a pension and bought Elveden hall and estate, Suffolk in 1863, redesigning the interior to resemble a Mughal palace. He died on October 22, 1886, in Paris, aged 55; in 1867 the British North America Act created the dominion of Canada, uniting the provinces of Canada (divided to form Ontario and Quebec), Nova Scotia and New Brunswick; in 1898, in the House of Commons, an MP quizzed a foreign minister as to how The Times correspondent in Peking (Beijing) had been “able on several occasions recently to publish facts of the utmost public importance several days before the Foreign Office had obtained any information in reference to them”. George Curzon (Lord Curzon of Kedleston) replied that it was the “intelligent anticipation of facts even before they occur” which led to the “unequal competition”; in 1912 Captain Robert Scott, storm-bound in a tent near the South Pole, made the last entry in his diary: “We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far. It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more. R Scott. For God’s sake look after our people”.
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