ON THIS DAY – February 28th


John Wesley chartered the first Methodist Church in the United States. Despite the fact that he was an Anglican, Wesley saw the need to provide church structure for his followers after the Anglican Church abandoned its American believers during the American Revolution.

Cambridge University (England) scientists James D. Watson and Frances H.C. Crick announced that they had determined the double-helix structure of DNA, the molecule containing human genes.

A crash on the London Underground railway killed 43 people. The driver of the train apparently made no effort to brake as the train headed toward a dead end. The reason for his inaction remains a mystery.

The celebrated sitcom M*A*S*H bowed out after 11 seasons, airing a special two-and-a-half hour episode watched by 77 percent of the television viewing audience. It was the largest percentage ever to watch a single TV show up to that time.

In a surprising announcement, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev indicated that his nation was ready to sign “without delay” a treaty designed to eliminate U.S. and Soviet medium-range nuclear missiles from Europe. Gorbachev’s offer led to a breakthrough in negotiations and, eventually, to the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

Federal agents raided the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas,
prompting a gun battle in which four agents and six cult members were killed.

Less than three weeks after making the unexpected announcement that he would step down, 85-year-old Pope Benedict XVI officially resigned. Citing advanced age as the reason for giving up his post as the leader of the 1.2 billion-member Roman Catholic Church, Benedict was the first pontiff to relinquish power in nearly 600 years.

source = www.history.com










A bomb exploded in the parking garage beneath the World Trade Center in New York City. Six people died and 1,000 were injured by the powerful blast, which also caused the evacuation of thousands of people from the Twin Towers.
An informant later identified a group of Serbians in New York as the culprits. However, when the FBI conducted surveillance of the gang they found not terrorists but jewel thieves, putting an end to a major diamond-laundering operation.
From Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth, Texas, the Lucky Lady II, a B-50 Superfortress, took off on the first non-stop round-the-world flight. Under the command of Captain James Gallagher, and featuring a crew of 14 men, the aircraft averaged 249 miles per hour on its 23,452-mile trek.
source = www.history.com


On This Day – February 25th


22-year-old Cassius Clay shocked the odds-makers by dethroning world heavyweight boxing champ Sonny Liston in a seventh-round technical knockout. The dreaded Liston, who had twice demolished former champ Floyd Patterson in one round, was an 8-to-1 favorite. However, Clay predicted victory, boasting that he would “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”.

American drive-in movie theaters experienced their golden era during the 1950s, but some Floridians were watching movies under the stars in their cars even before then: The city of Miami got its first drive-in on this day in 1938. The drive-in charged admission of 35 cents per person.

Under pressure from the Czechoslovakian Communist Party, President Eduard Benes allowed a communist-dominated government to be organized. Although the Soviet Union did not physically intervene (as it would in 1968), Western observers decried the virtually bloodless communist coup as an example of Soviet expansion into Eastern Europe.

Actor Robert Mitchum was released from a Los Angeles County prison farm after spending the final week of his two-month sentence for marijuana possession there. In the fall of 1948, Mitchum, the star of classics such as Cape Fear and Night of the Hunter,

In the face of mass demonstrations against his rule, Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos and his entourage were airlifted from the presidential palace in Manila by U.S. helicopters. Elected in 1966, Marcos declared martial law in 1972 in response to leftist violence. In the next year, he assumed dictatorial powers.

News from the UK – February 23rd 2016


The NHS in England is to offer pregnant women their own “personal budgets”, worth at least £3,000, so they can pick and choose the care they receive.
Women will be able to use it to pay for anything from one-to-one midwifery care to home births, the use of birthing pools and hypnotherapy.
The move is part of a shake-up in maternity care unveiled by NHS England to increase the choices women have.
The overhaul is also aimed at improving safety in maternity services.

Outdoor air pollution is contributing to about 40,000 early deaths a year in the UK, say the Royal Colleges of Physicians and of Paediatrics and Child Health.
They say diesel emissions have been poorly controlled.
And indoor air pollution has been overlooked.
Tobacco still poses the biggest indoor threat, but wood-burning stoves, cleaning products and air fresheners can contribute.
Mould and mildew in poorly ventilated rooms can also cause illness.

source = www.bbc.co.uk/news

On This Day – February 23rd

Abraham Lincoln and his entourage showed up unexpectedly at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., foiling a Baltimore plot against his life.
The president-elect left his home in Springfield, Illinois, by train several days earlier and had planned to stop in Baltimore before continuing to the capital. Before leaving, he delivered a poignant farewell to his hometown and close friends, who observed that he seemed to realize he might never return to the town where, he said, my children have been born, and one is buried. Shortly after departing Springfield, his aides received reports of a planned assassination attempt in Baltimore and ordered the train to proceed immediately to Washington.
During the bloody Battle for Iwo Jima, U.S. Marines took the crest of Mount Suribachi, the island’s highest peak and most strategic position, and raised the U.S. flag. American soldiers fighting for control of Suribachi’s slopes cheered the raising of the flag, and several hours later more Marines headed up to the crest with a larger flag.
A group of children from Arsenal Elementary School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, receive the first injections of the new polio vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk.
Though not as devastating as the plague or influenza, poliomyelitis was a highly contagious disease that emerged in terrifying outbreaks and seemed impossible to stop. Attacking the nerve cells, polio caused muscle deterioration, paralysis and even death. Even as medicine vastly improved in the first half of the 20th century, polio still struck, affecting mostly children but sometimes adults as well. The most famous victim of a 1921 outbreak in America was future President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, then a young politician. The disease spread quickly, leaving his legs permanently paralyzed.
Five-time Formula One champion Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina was kidnapped in Cuba by a group of Fidel Castro’s rebels.
Fangio was taken from his Havana hotel the day before the Cuba Grand Prix, an event intended to showcase the island nation. He was released unharmed several hours after the race. The kidnapping was intended to bring international embarrassment to Cuban President Fulgencio Batista, whose government Castro would overthrow on January 1, 1959.
In Spain, Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero and 200 members of the civil guard burst into the Cortes, Spain’s legislature building, in Madrid, firing shots into the air as they took the democratic government of Spain hostage. The right-wing conspirators, resentful of the rapid pace of democratic reform since the death of dictator Francisco Franco, called for an all-out military revolt.
The future of Spain was held in suspense into the night as citizens watched the tense events unfold on live television. The coup was only foiled when King Juan Carlos, who succeeded Franco in 1975 and then gave up power to Parliament, successfully appealed to the Spanish military to remain loyal to the constitution and join him in condemnation of the rebels. At noon on February 24, the coup was called off after 18 hours, and Spain’s fragile new democracy was preserved.

News from the UK – February 22nd 2016

London Mayor Boris Johnson’s decision to support a UK exit from the European Union (EU) dominates the front pages of the papers. It pits him against Prime Minister David Cameron and increases speculation that Johnson will take over leadership of the ruling Conservative Party.
The pound is heading for its biggest one-day fall since March 2009 against the dollar amid uncertainty about a possible UK exit from the EU.
A legal loophole is allowing criminals to lawfully obtain weapons and commit gun crimes including murders, police have said.
The National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS) said antique guns allegedly bought legally as ornaments were being used as live firearms.
About 100 such guns are in use by criminals nationwide, police say.
source = www.bbc.co.uk/news

On This Day – February 22nd

Gang commits largest robbery in British history

In the early morning hours, a gang of at least six men, some of them armed, stole £53 million from the Securitas bank depot in Kent, England. It was the largest such theft in British history.

The plot was well planned. On the evening before, two men, dressed as police officers, pulled the depot manager, Colin Dixon, over as he was driving in nearby Stockbury. They convinced him to get out of his car, and forced him into their vehicle. At about the same time, two more men visited Dixon’s home and picked up Dixon’s wife and eight-year-old son; eventually all three Dixons were taken to a farm, where the gang threatened their lives if Colin refused to cooperate with the robbery.

The Dixons were then forced to go with the gang to the Securitas depot, where Colin helped them evade the building’s security system. The gang proceeded to tie up 14 depot staff members, load the £53 million into a truck and, at about 2:15 am, drive away. No one was injured in the robbery. Eventually, one depot worker was able to contact police, who launched a massive search for the culprits. As the stolen money was all in used bills, it was difficult to trace. Securitas and its insurers posted a £2 million reward for information leading to the arrests of the robbers and return of the money.

The next day, three people, one man and two women, were arrested; one had attempted to make a bank deposit £6,000 that was bound in Securitas depot tape. However, all three were later released without being charged. Police continue to investigate the case, and more than 30 people have been arrested, though there have been no convictions. Police are also said to have recovered nearly £20 million of the stolen money.

Olympic moment for USA

In one of the most dramatic upsets in Olympic history, the underdog U.S. hockey team, made up of college players, defeated the four-time defending gold-medal winning Soviet team at the XIII Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York. The Soviet squad, previously regarded as the finest in the world, fell to the youthful American team 4-3 before a frenzied crowd of 10,000 spectators. Two days later, the Americans defeated Finland 4-2 to clinch the hockey gold.

source = www.history.com

NEWS FROM THE UK – February 21st, 2016

A search is under way to locate oak trees planted in England as memorials to soldiers killed in World War One.
The Woodland Trust is looking for trees grown from acorns gathered at the site of the Battle of Verdun, which began 100 years ago.
The plan is to grow acorns from those oaks into a second generation of “Verdun oaks” at a planned centenary wood in Surrey.
Project manager Philippa Borrill said the trees would be planted this autumn.
The battle began on 21 February 1916 and lasted 300 days. It was the longest battle of the conflict and an estimated 800,000 men were killed, wounded or went missing.
The Woodland Trust said oak and chestnut forests at Verdun were devastated by the fighting and still bear scars from the conflict.
Those seeking gender reassignment at one of England’s eight centres face a further wait of up to three years.
Under National Health Service guidelines, an initial appointment for hormone therapy and surgery should be within 18 weeks.
NHS England said centres were limited due a shortage of “suitably qualified staff” but an additional £4m funding has been put into the services.
A Transgender Equality report recommended an overhaul of the system, after noting “unacceptably long” waiting times.
source = www.bbc.co.uk/news

On This Day – February 21st

No excuses for this being a long post. These were momentous events.


In New York City, Malcolm X, an African American nationalist and religious leader, was assassinated by rival Black Muslims while addressing his Organization of Afro-American Unity at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights.

Born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1925, Malcolm was the son of James Earl Little, a Baptist preacher who advocated the black nationalist ideals of Marcus Garvey. Threats from the Ku Klux Klan forced the family to move to Lansing, Michigan, where his father continued to preach his controversial sermons despite continuing threats. In 1931, Malcolm’s father was brutally murdered by the white supremacist Black Legion, and Michigan authorities refused to prosecute those responsible. In 1937, Malcolm was taken from his family by welfare caseworkers. By the time he reached high school age, he had dropped out of school and moved to Boston, where he became increasingly involved in criminal activities.

In 1946, at the age of 21, Malcolm was sent to prison on a burglary conviction. It was there he encountered the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam, whose members are popularly known as Black Muslims. The Nation of Islam advocated black nationalism and racial separatism and condemned Americans of European descent as immoral “devils.” Muhammad’s teachings had a strong effect on Malcolm, who entered into an intense program of self-education and took the last name “X” to symbolize his stolen African identity.

After six years, Malcolm was released from prison and became a loyal and effective minister of the Nation of Islam in Harlem, New York. In contrast with civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X advocated self-defense and the liberation of African Americans “by any means necessary.” A fiery orator, Malcolm was admired by the African American community in New York and around the country.

In the early 1960s, he began to develop a more outspoken philosophy than that of Elijah Muhammad, whom he felt did not sufficiently support the civil rights movement. In late 1963, Malcolm’s suggestion that President John F. Kennedy’s assassination was a matter of the “chickens coming home to roost” provided Elijah Muhammad, who believed that Malcolm had become too powerful, with a convenient opportunity to suspend him from the Nation of Islam.

A few months later, Malcolm formally left the organization and made a Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, where he was profoundly affected by the lack of racial discord among orthodox Muslims. He returned to America as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz and in June 1964 founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity, which advocated black identity and held that racism, not the white race, was the greatest foe of the African American. Malcolm’s new movement steadily gained followers, and his more moderate philosophy became increasingly influential in the civil rights movement, especially among the leaders of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.

On February 21, 1965, one week after his home was firebombed, Malcolm X was shot to death by Nation of Islam members while speaking at a rally of his organization in New York City.


In an amazing turn of events, President Richard Nixon took a dramatic first step toward normalizing relations with the communist People’s Republic of China (PRC) by traveling to Beijing for a week of talks. Nixon’s historic visit began the slow process of the re-establishing diplomatic relations between the United States and communist China.

Still mired in the unpopular and frustrating Vietnam War in 1971, Nixon surprised the American people by announcing a planned trip to the PRC in 1972. The United States had never stopped formally recognizing the PRC after Mao Zedong’s successful communist revolution of 1949. In fact, the two nations had been bitter enemies. PRC and U.S. troops fought in Korea during the early-1950s, and Chinese aid and advisors supported North Vietnam in its war against the United States.

Nixon seemed an unlikely candidate to thaw those chilly relations. During the 1940s and 1950s, he had been a vocal cold warrior and had condemned the Democratic administration of Harry S. Truman for “losing” China to the communists in 1949. The situation had changed dramatically since that time, though. In Vietnam, the Soviets, not the Chinese, had become the most significant supporters of the North Vietnamese regime. And the war in Vietnam was not going well. The American people were impatient for an end to the conflict, and it was becoming increasingly apparent that the United States might not be able to save its ally, South Vietnam, from its communist aggressors. The American fear of a monolithic communist bloc had been modified, as a war of words—and occasional border conflicts—erupted between the Soviet Union and the PRC in the 1960s. Nixon, and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger saw a unique opportunity in these circumstances—diplomatic overtures to the PRC might make the Soviet Union more malleable to U.S. policy requests (such as pressuring the North Vietnamese to sign a peace treaty acceptable to the United States). In fact, Nixon was scheduled to travel to meet Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev shortly after completing his visit to China.

Nixon’s trip to China, therefore, was a move calculated to drive an even deeper wedge between the two most significant communist powers. The United States could use closer diplomatic relations with China as leverage in dealing with the Soviets, particularly on the issue of Vietnam. In addition, the United States might be able to make use of the Chinese as a counterweight to North Vietnam. Despite their claims of socialist solidarity, the PRC and North Vietnam were, at best, strongly suspicious allies. As historian Walter LaFeber said, “Instead of using Vietnam to contain China, Nixon concluded that he had better use China to contain Vietnam.” For its part, the PRC was desirous of another ally in its increasingly tense relationship with the Soviet Union and certainly welcomed the possibility of increased U.S.-China trade.

source = www.history.com

News from the UK – February 20th 2016

The UK will vote on whether to remain in the European Union on Thursday June 23rd, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.
The prime minister said he would be campaigning to remain in a reformed EU – and described the vote as one of the biggest decisions “in our lifetimes”.
His government ministers immediately divided up into the “leave”” and “remain” camps as the campaigns got under way in earnest.
Opinion polls show the public more or less equally divided.

Three-thousand-year-old fingerprints have been found on the lid of an Egyptian coffin by researchers.
The prints are most likely to have belonged to craftsmen handling it before the varnish dried, according to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England.
The discovery was made public ahead of a new exhibition on how Egyptian coffin design changed over 4,000 years.
The prints were “one of many small details that bring us closer to the ancient craftsmen,” a spokeswoman said.

Sex and disability was once regarded as a taboo subject, but is now being spoken of more often. Comedian Romina Puma, who has muscular dystrophy, says disabled people’s right to sex should not be ignored.
“When I was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy 10 years ago, at the age of 29, my life was pretty normal. Like many women, I enjoyed going out to meet new guys and would often have a boyfriend.
“But as my condition has become progressively worse, and I have begun using a wheelchair, people no longer see me in the same light.
“It doesn’t mean having a sex life isn’t important, or that my private parts don’t work properly. Most men I meet, however, can’t see past the chair, and exchanges often don’t progress beyond sympathetic looks.”

source = www.bbc.co.uk/news