Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The End of 2014 - Good Riddance!

2014 is almost over.

Good riddance!

I mean, frankly, this year has pretty much sucked, and I, for one, am not sorry to see it go. The world seems to be going to hell, and in my personal life, things seemed particularly challenging and counterproductive!

First, let's take a look at the news around the world:

Russia, and particularly President Putin, seemed to be at the forefront of news this year. From the Sochi Olympics, to the Russian involvement in Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea, and what at least appears to be the beginning of a second Cold War, as sanctions placed on Russia by the West have been reciprocated, and tensions always seem to be mounting.

This was also the year of ISIS/ISIL/The Islamic State taking over in northern Iraq and Syria, taking advantage of the existing instability in both countries. They looked particularly brutal, and there was even some question about whether or not they may be a genocidal regime. They share some of the same tendencies as fascism, and definitely exhibit a religious intolerance. Where exactly did they come from, and how did they get so powerful, so fast? But one way or another, unfortunately, they definitely were bad, but major, news this year. On the flip side, however, this crisis found Iran and the United States in the unusual position of agreeing with one another over an important issue, although who knows how long that will last. It certainly did not lead to any cooperation or mutual efforts to work at eliminating this threat together. Also, progress in talks over nuclear energy in Iran stalled once again. The more things change....

Of course, the stalemate between Israel and Palestine continued, and instead of moving in a progressive way, it seemed that the situation regressed, with the war over the summer that devastated Gaza. Much of it looked like images of Berlin and other cities in Germany after the war. There were period of truce, but within a couple of minutes of these expiring, Hamas launched missile attacks into Israel, essentially provoking them into responding. Both sides grew more entrenched in their prejudices as a result. Maybe someday, there will be peace in the Mideast. Right now, the immediate prospects for that look grim. Especially when you look at the seemingly redundant, half-hearted efforts towards resolving the crisis on both sides in recent decades.

Germany celebrated 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Gorbachev was one of the honored guests to speak there. He also made news earlier in the year when he expressed support for Putin's annexation of Crimea, as well as a possible increase in Russian activity in eastern Ukraine.

China overtook the United States as the world's leading economy, at least according to the International monetary Fund (IMF). However, this takeover was not entirely complete, as the GDP for the U.S. is still double what it is in China, although even that is supposed to be overtaken within the next decade or so. Also, clearly, human rights in China remain an issue, although the protests in Hong Kong at least have not ended in the way that the protests in Tiananman Square ended a quarter of a century ago.

Right now, a looming financial crisis in Europe over Greece, where people are sick of the austerity measures that have been imposed on the country. However Germany, who has been footing the bill for bail out money and understandably, wants some assurances that more sound and responsible economic practices will be in place, are not seemingly about to relent. They know that if Greece becomes the first exception, than all of the other countries will demand similar eases in austerity, as well. The apparent choice for Greece is to accept continued austerity measures, or to leave the EU altogether. It will be interesting to see how that shakes out in the future. For that matter, there were votes in elections in Europe this past year that seemed to suggest that many are less than thrilled at being members of the EU, as a wave of anti-immigrant and anti-Europe sentiments seemed to gain traction across the continent.

North Korea is back in the news, having shut down the release of Sony's new movie, The Interview. Of course, that news spread like wildfire in the United States, igniting supposedly patriotic sentiments about how one foreign dictator can essentially force the United States into censorship, allegedly. This overblown story effectively cast into the shadows a far more important story: the release of a report detailing methods of what appear to be torture employed by the CIA.

The situation is Africa has not greatly improved. Those girls that were captured in Nigeria by Boko Haram. The civil war there seems to be intensifying. Similar instability was also seen in Central African Republic, as well as Kenya.

There were some strange incidents involving airlines from Asia - particularly Malaysia. One Malaysian Airliner was shot over Ukraine, exacerbating the separate situations for both the airline, as well as the crisis in Ukraine. Of course, there was the big mystery of the plane that disappeared, with a huge search area that stretched from the coasts of Malaysia and Thailand, to western Australia. It does not appear that they will ever find any solid leads in that one. Then, just a few days ago, another airline went missing over the area, although unfortunately, they have recovered parts of that, cementing that it was, indeed, a crash.

Not all of the world news was grim. Why, we had Pope Francis, who I think should at least be a serious candidate, if not the leading contender, for the title of "Man of the Year" award, and almost exclusively for positive things! Here is a man who seems to take the best and most true, ideal, traditional Christian values espoused in the Bible literally. He focuses on easing the burdens of the poor and suffering, and blasts the rich and privileged peoples that try to grab more in their unyielding and unchecked greed. While many have turned away from the Church, this is a man who can help to modernize it, and to make it more accommodating, more positive, and less intrusive and judgmental in the negative and petty ways that it has become over the years.

Other good news: Bolivia seems to be a model for many other countries to follow. Years ago, Bolivia was a country that seemed like a basket case. It was poor, and soaked in debt. The standard of living was low, wages were low, and things appeared grim. But recent efforts to empower the people have allowed their wages and living standards to rise, and the economy seems to be doing well. They are not crippled by debts, and the outlook seems to be brighter!

Also, despite many being unhappy about it, the news that the United States and Cuba were about to begin diplomatic relations again seems to me good news. Finally, the situation is progressing and, predictably, it took the United States to back off a hardline stance that was based on the premise of desiring "regime change." Given the results of previous efforts by Americans toward "regime change" elsewhere in the world, I think the collective wisdom of people that take such a hard and unyielding stance like this should be placed under intense scrutiny and seem with a strong measure of skepticism. The embargo and attempted isolation of Cuba has been going on for many decades now - over half a century! It simply has not worked, and we need to move on. So, not everybody is happy. When will everybody be happy about anything, anyway?

In American politics, it was much more of the same, at least at first. Republicans blocking everything Obama tried to do, and gained steam in popularity polls as a result of their inaction. They won the election big, and were predictably smug afterwards. At least until Obama, to his credit, actually began looking like a president that wants to do things, as he signed an environmental treaty with China, then initiated executive action to reform immigration policy in the country. Also, he recently announced that the United States would open official relations with Cuba, something that I feel was long overdue, and which was yet one more thing that set America apart from so much of the rest of the world for all the wrong reasons.

Science took some large leaps this year, as the European Union successfully launched a probe to the asteroid and landed there. India took a big step in joining the space race. And a NASA probe launched many years ago finally reached Pluto. There was a scientific breakthrough in one area that seemed to be the domain of magic and wizardry, as scientists in Rochester came up with the first working "invisibility cloak" of sorts. I wrote an article about it in the Guardian Liberty Voice, if you are interested:

Invisibility Cloak Breakthrough by Scientists at University of Rochester:

It was a brutal winter for the first few months here, as we got used to the term "polar vortex," with unusually frigid temperatures becoming a staple of our winter. So far, this winter has been milder, mercifully.

In sports, the biggest story was surely the World Cup, where Germany made history by crushing the hosts in a historically lopsided semifinal by the score of 7-1! They then won the final against Argentina by a much more modest 1-0, earning their fourth ever World Cup title. The Seahawks emerged dominant in the Super Bowl, but the really big news in the NFL came with all of the highly publicized incidents of domestic violence and rape among many of their stars. Derek Jeter had a highly publicized retirement, and the Kansas City Royals had a dream postseason, until it ended in Game 7 of the World Series, when the San Francisco Giants won it all. The Los Angeles Kings dominated again in the Stanley Cup playoffs, so much so that they began to resemble a budding dynasty. And in basketball, the Miami Heat lost to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals, and convincingly, at that! Then, LeBron James made news by returning to Cleveland. In tennis, Federer tried, but could neither win a Grand Slam title, nor overtake Djokovic as world number one. However, Wawrinka won in Australia, Nadal won a record ninth French Open title, Djokovic beat Federer in a huge and memorable Wimbeledon showdown, and Cilic became the first man not named Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, or Murray to win a Grand Slam since 2009, and only the second man to do so since all the way back in 2005, when Marat Safin took the Australian Open.

There were also changes in my personal life, as well. Some good, although mostly, much of the year felt bad. There were both highlights and lowlights for me.

The lowlights started early, and came more frequently than I wished.

First thing to happen was that I was essentially laid off my weekend job, after just shy of eleven years on the job. We did not even have the dignity of being laid off, however, because that implies some sort of a package for a measure of compensation. No, we part-timers were simply taken off the schedule, even though we did nothing wrong. Those people that implied that nothing would happen if we continued to do our job right said and did nothing when we were let go for no reason. They did not officially lay off any of us, and in some ways, it might have been better if they had.  As of my writing this, none of us got so much as a thank you, let alone anything that could allow us to leave the place of our employment on the weekends with any measure of dignity. They simply took us off the schedule, almost one by one, and never put us back on. Everyone in the place that suggested that we only needed to continue to do our jobs, and that nothing would happen, proved to say and do nothing when we were let go.

This would set up a very depressing start to the year, since we all knew that they were trying to get rid of us since a new boss came in on November of last year, and announced very quickly that he intended to get rid of all part-timers. Yet, less than six months after getting rid of us, the old schedule had been re-instituted, complete with part-timers. Essentially, they just wanted to get rid of the old guard.

That was a source of major depression for those of us affected, and I was certainly no exception. It was very depressing, as were the money problems that I went through afterwards. The financial strains that, at times, became rather extreme this year as a result added considerably to the misery. It put a strain on my relationship with my girlfriend, as well, and for quite some time in the fall, it looked like our relationship was falling apart, and about to end. It still does not feel entirely stable as it once did, but that could just be me.

Earlier in the year, the divorce was finalized, which was long overdue. Later in the year, my financial problems were greatly increased when she ran behind on the rent, and I had to help out when it reached an emergency level, as the apartment complex was approaching court proceedings. They were not evicted, ultimately, but came uncomfortably close. My son deserves better, so I did what I could. Still, the strain of stretching myself that thin, when money was tighter than it had been in many, many years, just added to that feeling of this being a miserable, even almost a cursed, year.

There were things that exacerbated the financial situation, including car problems and an emergency visit to a creepy dentist. Both of those proved very costly, and these came just before vacation time, which meant that I did not have nearly as much vacation money as I had hoped and saved up or, having been forced to spend it elsewhere. The whole year felt like a series of mishaps like this.

More recently, I got a phone call from my father, saying that one of the pipes in the basement had a very bad leak, and that the basement was at least partly flooded. Yes, my parents home flooded when a pipe apparently burst, and it had leaked for quite some time apparently prior to that. I had to go down to their basement and clean up the mess. So many things were destroyed in there, it took numerous trips with very heavy bags filled with what amounted to trash to clean it up. There were also some strange pieces of furniture and other things that I could not identify as belonging to anyone in the family. Not a fun way to spend around the holidays and, for a while, I developed a cough from all of the crap that I must have breathed down there.

In all, all of this just made me feel more tired and worn down than any year that I experienced as an adult, if not ever. I do not remember a year feeling as miserable as this since at least 1992, and possibly, ever!

Not all of this year was filled with what at least appeared to be bad news for me, however.

I became a certified writer (at least in the state of Nevada), and that became one of the big highlights for my year. I now have dozens of articles published in the Guardian Liberty Voice, and I welcome any and all of you to please go and take a look! Also, I had my most successful year ever in The Charbor Chronicles and, if you are reading this, you helped to make it so, which means I owe you a personal thanks! I published more blog entries not only than any other year, but more than all of my previous years combined! That, after taking a couple of trips in the summer where I was unable to write anything or publish anything here, as well as a few weeks in the autumn when I was taking the class to become a certified writer for the Guardian Liberty Voice, and the workload there was just so great, that it prevented me from writing anywhere near as much as I would have liked to here on this site. Still, you guys remained patient and, again, I am very thankful for that!

My writing, and particularly my editing, separate from either the Guardian Liberty Voice or The Charbor Chronicles progressed as well, and I will look to make even more progress - far more, hopefully - in 2015!

Seeing my son grow up more, and getting to enjoy it was another major highlight. We started reading the Percy Jackson series together, and just finished the second book on Monday. We will start the third book for the new year and, I am guessing, should finish the fifth and final book sometime in the summer. Also, we went hiking together quite a bit this year, and did some other things, like going to the beach together, as well as trips, which I will expand on now.

There were two trips that I took this year. The first was with my girlfriend and my son, and we went down South, to the Carolinas, and a side excursion to Savannah, Georgia. The second trip was with my brother and my son, and included a mixture of hotels and camping. We traveled through parts of New England and eastern Canada, specifically the Maritimes (New Brunswick and PEI), and well as the Gaspésie peninsula in Québec province.

Those would be the personal highlights.

NFL Playoff Predictions Wildcard Weekend & More NFL News

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers - Had the Ravens not lost that ridiculous game to Houston, they would probably be hosting this particular game. Now, the Ravens won the Super Bowl just a couple of seasons ago, true. But here is the thing: the one team that absolutely has their number in the playoffs would be the Steelers. This dates all the way back to 2001, when the Ravens were the defending champions from their first Super Bowl title. So far this season, the two teams have exchanged 20-point wins against one another, with both teams winning at home. Can the Ravens break their playoff slump against Pittsburgh? I hope so. They have enough talent, and the Steelers have been wildly inconsistent as well this season. My guy feeling, however, says that they will not. My pick: Pittsburgh

Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers - The Cardinals were more consistent winners this season, although they enter this game on a slump, while the Panthers enter red-hot, and with home field advantage. Yes, the Cardinals defense is solid, but the Panthers have played some tough, lights out defense of late as well. Also, Cam Newton, to his credit, seems to be coming alive. Arizona may still be the better team, but my suspicions are that they will not show it this upcoming weekend. My pick: Carolina

Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts - Cincinnati needed to win the division and host another game to have a real shot at winning, I think. The Bengals have never won a road playoff game throughout their history, and as a franchise, they have lose their last six playoff games. The last time that they won? The 1990-91 season, when they crushed Houston, 41-14. How long ago was that? Well, the US was preparing to go to war against Saddam Hussein and Iraq for the first time. George H. W. Bush was president, and had such enormous popularity that it seemed unlikely that he would not get a second term in office. South Africa was still under an apartheid government. The Soviet Union still existed. The New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams, Denver Broncos had never won a Super Bowl. The Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens, and Tennessee Titans did not yet exist. That is how long it has been since the Bengals last won a playoff game. All losses since then, and four of them have come since 2009, including the past three playoffs before this season. They could possibly win this one, although Indy is a tough place to play, and the Bengals have not proven themselves on the road against good teams. My pick: Indianapolis

Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys - The Lions needed that win at Green Bay, as well as defenseman Ndamukong Suh. They got neither. Yes, they had a successful season, at 11-5. But they were on the cusp of so much more. Now, they have to go on the road to face a red-hot Dallas Cowboys team in Texas, rather than the 7-8-1 Panthers, a team the Lions likely would have had a good chance of beating. It will be a lot harder to beat the Cowboys, though. And frankly, I just do not think they are going to do it. My pick: Dallas

Some News Around the NFL

The Detroit Lions will head to Dallas to take on the Cowboys, but they will be without the services of Ndamukong Suh, who is probably the best, and certainly the most famous, member of the Lions defense.

He claims that it was accidental, although the league is treating it like it was done intentionally.

Here is a link with video that shows the play. Based on this, it is hard to determine whether it actually was intentional or not, although it should be noted that Suh has a deserved reputation as a dirty player. Also, this came one week after a similar incident involving a Detroit defenseman, although that time, there was no question that it was intentional. Again, the question is still open for debate about whether this as intentional, or not.

Also, Johnny Manziel, aka Johnny Football, is in the news again, and once again, it is for the wrong reasons.

Simply put, his rookie season did not live up to the hype, to say the least. The way some people talked about it, he was the next coming of Joe Montana or Peyton Manning.

Instead, he resembled a spoiled little rich kid who is too full of himself to take his new job as a starting NFL quarterback seriously. What a shocker, since he comes from a very rich family, huh?

He stated a couple of weeks ago, after an abysmal showing against the Bengals, that he had learned his lessons and had some growing up to do, but he was going to start getting serious. Now, after two more weeks of buffoonery, he has stated that he deserves all of the criticism that he is getting, that he did it to himself, and that now, he will start getting serious. Never mind what he said two weeks ago.

And let's face it: chances are good that you should not pay any mind to what he says this time around, either. He is acting like what he appears to be: a spoiled brat full of himself, who's fifteen minutes are just about up, hopefully. Maybe some people like this circus, but I can do without it. Cleveland deserves better.

Otherwise, the big story in the league was about coaches getting fired. Everyone knows about Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco. And the Raiders may, or may not, wind up needing a new coach. However, the Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears, and New York Jets all got rid of their head coaches, and will need to fill in that vacancy in the coming weeks.

Some are questioning whether the 49ers did the right thing by parting ways with Harbaugh. Apparently, the guy was hard to work with.

While that may be true, there is no arguing with the success that the franchise enjoyed during his tenure. Just listen to what Pete Carroll, a rival divisional coach, and highly successful coach in his own right, said about Harbaugh's departure:

49ers' worst decision ever? by Yahoo Sports Videos  0:59 mins

Seahawks' Carroll on Harbaugh: 'Glad he's out of here'

On This Day in History - December 31 Panama Canal Turned Over to Panama

Once again, it should be reiterated, that this does not pretend to be a very extensive history of what happened on this day (nor is it the most original - the links can be found down below). If you know something that I am missing, by all means, shoot me an email or leave a comment, and let me know!

Dec 31, 1999: Panama Canal turned over to Panama

On this day in 1999, the United States, in accordance with the Torrijos-Carter Treaties, officially hands over control of the Panama Canal, putting the strategic waterway into Panamanian hands for the first time. Crowds of Panamanians celebrated the transfer of the 50-mile canal, which links the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and officially opened when the SS Arcon sailed through on August 15, 1914. Since then, over 922,000 ships have used the canal.  

Interest in finding a shortcut from the Atlantic to the Pacific originated with explorers in Central America in the early 1500s. In 1523, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V commissioned a survey of the Isthmus of Panama and several plans for a canal were produced, but none ever implemented. U.S. interest in building a canal was sparked with the expansion of the American West and the California gold rush in 1848. (Today, a ship heading from New York to San Francisco can save about 7,800 miles by taking the Panama Canal rather than sailing around South America.)   

In 1880 a French company run by the builder of the Suez Canal started digging a canal across the Isthmus of Panama (then a part of Colombia). More than 22,000 workers died from tropical diseases such as yellow fever during this early phase of construction and the company eventually went bankrupt, selling its project rights to the United States in 1902 for $40 million. President Theodore Roosevelt championed the canal, viewing it as important to America's economic and military interests. In 1903, Panama declared its independence from Colombia in a U.S.-backed revolution and the U.S. and Panama signed the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty, in which the U.S. agreed to pay Panama $10 million for a perpetual lease on land for the canal, plus $250,000 annually in rent.  

Over 56,000 people worked on the canal between 1904 and 1913 and over 5,600 lost their lives. When finished, the canal, which cost the U.S. $375 million to build, was considered a great engineering marvel and represented America's emergence as a world power.  

In 1977, responding to nearly 20 years of Panamanian protest, U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Panama's General Omar Torrijos signed two new treaties that replaced the original 1903 agreement and called for a transfer of canal control in 1999. The treaty, narrowly ratified by the U.S. Senate, gave America the ongoing right to defend the canal against any threats to its neutrality. In October 2006, Panamanian voters approved a $5.25 billion plan to double the canal's size by 2015 to better accommodate modern ships.  

Ships pay tolls to use the canal, based on each vessel's size and cargo volume. In May 2006, the Maersk Dellys paid a record toll of $249,165. The smallest-ever toll--36 cents--was paid by Richard Halliburton, who swam the canal in 1928.

Dec 31, 1775: Patriots defeated at Quebec

During the American Revolution, Patriot forces under generals Benedict Arnold and Richard Montgomery are defeated by the British defenders of the city of Quebec in Canada.  

On December 2, Arnold and Montgomery met on the outskirts of Quebec and demanded the surrender of the city. Governor Sir Guy Carleton rejected their demand, and on December 9 the Patriots commenced a bombardment of Quebec, which was met by a counterbattery by the British defenders that disabled several of the Patriots' guns. At approximately 4 a.m. on December 31, the Patriot forces advanced on the city under the cover of a blizzard. The British defenders were ready, however, and when Montgomery's forces came within 50 yards of the fortified city they opened fire with a barrage of artillery and musket fire. Montgomery was killed in the first assault, and, after several more attempts at penetrating Quebec's defenses, his men were forced into retreat.  

Meanwhile, Arnold's division suffered a similar fate during their attack of the northern wall of the city. A two-gun battery opened fire on the advancing Americans, killing a number of Americans and wounding Benedict Arnold in the leg. Patriot Daniel Morgan assumed command, made progress against the defenders, but halted at the second wall of fortifications to wait for reinforcements. By the time the rest of Arnold's army finally arrived, the British had reorganized and the attack was called off. Of the 900 Americans who participated in the siege, 60 were killed and wounded and more than 400 were captured.  

The remaining Patriot forces then retreated from the invasion of Canada. As the Americans crossed the St. Lawrence River to safety, Benedict Arnold remained in Canadian territory until the last of his soldiers had escaped. With the pursuing British forces almost in firing range, Arnold checked one last time to make sure all his men had escaped. He then shot his horse and fled down the St. Lawrence in a canoe.  

Less than five years later, Benedict Arnold, as commander of West Point, famously became a traitor when he agreed to surrender the important Hudson River fort to the British for a bribe of $20,000. The plot was uncovered after British spy John André was captured with incriminating papers, forcing Arnold to flee to British protection and join in their fight against the country that he once so valiantly served.

Dec 31, 1944: Hungary declares war on Germany 

On this day, the provisional government of Hungary officially declares war on Germany, bringing an end to Hungary's cooperation—sometimes free, sometimes coerced—with the Axis power.  

Miklas Horthy, the anticommunist regent and virtual dictator of Hungary, who had once hoped to keep his country a nonbelligerent in the war, had reluctantly aligned Hungary with Hitler in November 1940. While ideologically not fascist, Hungary had many radical right-wing elements at play in its politics, as well as a history of anti-Semitism. Those radical forces saw many common "ideals" with Nazism and believed the future lay with Germany. So though Horthy little admired Hitler personally, he felt the need to placate influential parties within his own country and protect his nation from Soviet domination.  

When the Germans invaded the Soviet Union, Hitler demanded that Hungary mobilize its military against the Soviets as well. So on June 29, 1941, Hungary declared war on the USSR. In March 1942, Horthy replaced Prime Minister Lazlo Bardossy, (a political manipulator too eager to piggyback on German territorial expansion and turn on former allies for the sake of personal gains), with Miklos Kallay, who shared the regent's goal of regaining the favor of the Western—non-Soviet—Allies. Kallay was able to communicate to the Allies that Hungary was open to switching sides again should they make it to Hungary's border and offer Hungary protection from German and/or Soviet occupation.  

In January 1943, the Battle of Voronezh against the USSR saw Hungary's entire 2nd Army decimated by the Soviets, rendering Hungary militarily impotent. Hitler, who learned of Kallay's sly communiques with the West, gave Horthy an ultimatum: Either cooperate fully with the German regime or suffer German occupation. Horthy chose to collaborate, which meant the suppression of left-leaning political parties and an intense persecution of Hungary's Jews, including massive deportations to Auschwitz, something Kallay, to his credit, had fought to prevent. (More than 550,000 Hungarian Jews—out of 750,000—would die during the war.)  

As Soviet troops began to occupy more Hungarian territory, a desperate Horthy signed an armistice with Moscow. When the regent announced this on radio, he was kidnapped by the Germans and forced to abdicate. Ferenc Szalasi, leader of the fascist Arrow Cross Party, was made head of the country on October 15, 1944, though he was little more than a puppet of the Germans. His rule of terror, especially against Hungary's Jews, would become infamous.  

Soviet troops finally liberated the bulk of Hungary from German rule in December 1944. On December 31, a Provisional National Assembly, composed of Communists loyal to the USSR, officially declared war on Germany. The Assembly would go on to sign an armistice with all the Allies in January of 1945.

Dec 31, 1978: United States ends official relations with Nationalist China

Flags at both the American embassy in Taipei and the Taiwanese embassy in the United States are lowered for the last time as U.S. relations with Taiwan officially come to an end. On January 1, 1979 the United States officially recognized the government of the People's Republic of China in Beijing.  

The American decision to sever relations with Taiwan and grant recognition to the People's Republic of China was hotly resented by representatives of the Chinese Nationalist government. In a brief ceremony accompanying the lowering of the Taiwanese flag, a Chinese Nationalist official declared that the action "did not mean that we are giving up our fight against communism." He strongly criticized American President Jimmy Carter for cutting off ties with "a loyal friend and ally of the United States" in exchange for normalizing relations with "our enemy, the Chinese Communist regime." American officials had little comment, except to assure those seeking visas and other services in Taiwan that the U.S. embassy would continue to help them until March 1, 1979. At that time, a "nongovernmental" office would take over those duties.  

It was a rather quiet end to nearly 30 years of American refusal to grant official recognition to the communist government of mainland China. The U.S. decision to maintain strong relations with the Nationalist government on Taiwan had been the main roadblock to diplomatic relations between America and the People's Republic of China. By the late 1970s, the desire for closer economic relations with communist China and the belief that diplomatic relations with the PRC might act as a buffer against Soviet aggression led U.S. officials to view continued relations with Taiwan as counterproductive. President Carter's decision to sever relations with Taiwan removed that obstacle. One of the oldest and most antagonistic relationships of the Cold War seemed to be thawing.

Dec 31, 1600: Charter granted to the East India Company

Queen Elizabeth I of England grants a formal charter to the London merchants trading to the East Indies, hoping to break the Dutch monopoly of the spice trade in what is now Indonesia.  

In the first few decades of its existence, the East India Company made far less progress in the East Indies than it did in India itself, where it acquired unequaled trade privileges from India's Mogul emperors. By the 1630s, the company abandoned its East Indies operations almost entirely to concentrate on its lucrative trade of Indian textiles and Chinese tea. In the early 18th century, the company increasingly became an agent of British imperialism as it intervened more and more in Indian and Chinese political affairs. The company had its own military, which defeated the rival French East India Company in 1752 and the Dutch in 1759.  

In 1773, the British government passed the Regulating Act to reign in the company. The company's possessions in India were subsequently managed by a British governor general, and it gradually lost political and economic autonomy. The parliamentary acts of 1813 ended the East India Company's trade monopoly, and in 1834 it was transformed into a managing agency for the British government of India.  

In 1857, a revolt by Indian soldiers in the Bengal army of the company developed into a widespread uprising against British rule in India. After the so-called Indian Mutiny was crushed in 1858, the British government assumed direct control over India, and in 1873 the East India Company was dissolved.

Dec 31, 1927: Henry Ford publishes the last issue of the Dearborn Independent

On December 31, 1927, the Dearborn Independent--a newspaper published by Henry Ford that, at the peak of its popularity in the mid-1920s, had about 700,000 readers--rolls off the printing press for the last time. Since 1920, Ford had used the paper as a platform for his anti-Semitic ideas, and many of its articles and essays were collected and published in a book called "The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem." It was a bestseller in Nazi Germany and remains in print today.  

Henry Ford was an innovative entrepreneur, but he was also a flagrant and unapologetic bigot: He hated immigrants, thought labor unionists were "the worst thing that ever struck the earth" and made no secret of his belief in "the Jewish plan to control the world, not by territorial acquisition, not by military aggression, not by governmental subjugation, but by control of the machinery of commerce and exchange." (He blamed Jewish bankers for everything that was wrong with the world, from the Great War to his own inability to buy out his company's shareholders during the recession of 1919.) Early in 1920, he put a new editor in charge of the Independent after the old one refused to print Ford's vitriolic essays and resigned, and the first of the paper's anti-Semitic tirades appeared in May 1920. They circulated widely, since the paper was sold by subscription as well as through Ford's nationwide network of dealerships.  

In 1927, a Jewish lawyer and farm cooperative organizer named Aaron Sapiro sued Ford for defamation. (His was the third anti-Independent lawsuit, but the first to go to trial.) In court, Ford refused to take responsibility for the articles that appeared in his newspaper: in fact, he faked a car accident and hid in the hospital so he wouldn't have to testify. The suit ended in a mistrial, and--likely because of all the bad publicity the trial and the newspaper had brought him--Ford agreed to a private settlement with Sapiro. He issued a somewhat insincere public apology for his newspaper's years of defamatory content--"to my great regret," he wrote, "I have learned that Jews...resent this publication as promoting anti-Semitism"--and at the end of the year he closed down the Independent for good.


Here's a more detailed look at events that transpired on this date throughout history:

406 - 80,000 Vandels attack the Rhine at Mainz
406 - Vandals, Alans and Suebians cross the Rhine, beginning an invasion of Gallia.
535 - Byzantine General Belisarius completes the conquest of Sicily, defeating the Ostrogothic garrison of Syracuse, and ending his consulship for the year.
765 - Coffin of Ho-tse Shen-hui interred in a stupa built in China
870 - Skirmish at Englefield: Ethelred of Wessex beats Danish invasion army
1229 - James I of Aragon the Conqueror enters Medina Mayurqa (now known as Palma, Spain) thus consummating the Christian conquest of the island of Majorca.
1492 - 100,000 Jews expelled from Sicily
1502 - Cesare Borgia (son of pope Alexander VI) occupies Urbino
1564 - Willem van Orange demands freedom of conscience/religion
1600 - British East India Company chartered
1604 - Admiral Steven van der Haghen's fleet reaches Bantam
1621 - Hungarian King Bethlen Gabor/Ferdinand II sign Treaty of Mikulov
1660 - James II of England is named Duke of Normandy by Louis XIV of France.
1669 - France & Brandenburg sign secret treaty
1670 - France & England sign Boyne-treaty
1680 - Amsterdam opera at Leidsegracht opens
1687 - 1st Huguenots depart France to Cape of Good Hope
1688 - Pro-James II-earl of Devonshire occupies Nottingham [OS=Dec 21]
1695 - A window tax is imposed in England, causing many shopkeepers to brick up their windows to avoid the tax.
1700 - Frisia/Groningen adopt Gregorian calendar, tomorrow is 1/12/1701
1708 - Great Alliance captures Bridge
1711 - Duke of Marlborough fired as English army commander
1744 - James Bradley announces discovery of Earth's nutation motion (wobble)
1745 - Bonnie Prince Charlies army meets with de Esk
1756 - Russia joins the Alliance of Versailles
1758 - British expeditionary army occupies Goree (Dakar) Senegal
1775 - Battle of Quebec; Americans unable to take British stronghold
1776 - Rhode Island establishes wage & price controls to curb inflation: Limit is 70 cents a day for carpenters, 42 cents for tailors
1779 - English fleet beat Dutch Merchant vessels
1781 - Bank of North America, 1st US bank opens
1783 - Import of African slaves banned by all of the Northern states
1805 - End of French Republican calendar; France returns to Gregorianism
1831 - Gramercy Park is deeded to New York City.
1841 - Alabama becomes 1st state to license dental surgeons
1857 - Queen Victoria chooses Ottawa as new capital of Canada
1859 - Dutch colony in Dutch Indies counts 4,800 slaves
1861 - 22,990 mm of rain falls in Cherrapunji Assam in 1861, world record
1862 - -Jan 20th) Battle of Stone's River/Battle of Murfreesboro, Tennesse in American Civil War
1862 - President Lincoln signs act admitting West Virginia to the Union
1862 - Skirmish at Parker Cross Roads, Tennessee
1862 - Union ironclad ship "Monitor" sank off Cape Hatteras, NC
1870 - J D Schneiter patents rocket mail in France, (not done)
1879 - Cornerstone laid for Iolani Palace (only royal palace in US)
1879 - Cornerstone laid for Honolulu's Iolani Palace
1879 - Edison gives 1st public demonstration of his incandescent lamp
1879 - Gilbert and Sullivan's Opera "Pirates of Penzance," premieres in NYC
1890 - Ellis Island (NYC) opens as a US immigration depot
1896 - 25th auto built in US
1897 - Brooklyn's last day as a city, it incorporates into NYC (1/1/1898)
1902 - Boers & British army sign peace treaty
1904 - The first New Year's Eve celebration is held in Times Square, then known as Longacre Square, in New York, New York.
1906 - French/British/Italian treaty concerning rights on Abyssinia
1907 - For 1st time a ball drops at Times Square to signal new year
1907 - G Mahler conducts the Metropolitan Opera
1910 - US tobacco industry produced 9 billion cigarettes in 1910
Discoverer of Radium Marie CurieDiscoverer of Radium Marie Curie 1911 - Marie Curie receives her 2nd Nobel Prize
1914 - Colonel Jacob Ruppert & Cap Huston purchase NY Yankees for $460,000
1917 - Dutch Social-democratic trade union NVV counts 159,450 members
1918 - Kid Gleason replaces Pants Rowland as White Sox manager
1920 - Roy Park makes 1st-ball duck in only Test Cricket inn, v Eng at MCG
1921 - Last San Francisco firehorses retired
1923 - 1st transatlantic radio broadcast of a voice, Pittsburgh-Manchester
1923 - BBC begins using Big Ben chime ID
1923 - H Tierney/J McCarthy's musical "Kid Boots," premieres in NYC
1924 - Hubble announces existence of distant galaxies
1925 - 14th congress of CPSU decides to accelerate industry
1927 - Ponsford scores 336 against SA, giving him 1146 for month
1929 - Pope Pius XI publishes encyclical Divini illius magistri
1930 - Pontifical encyclical Casti connubii against mixed marriages
1930 - US tobacco industry produced 123 billion cigarettes in 1930
1932 - John P O'Brien sworn-in as mayor of NYC
1934 - Helen Richey becomes 1st woman to pilot an airmail transport
1935 - CPH becomes Dutch Communist Party
1935 - Charles Darrow patents Monopoly
1938 - Dr R N Harger's "drunkometer," 1st breath test, introduced in Indiana
1938 - Dutch national debt hits ƒ3,986,629,805.70
1939 - 25 U boats sunk this month (81,000 ton)
1939 - Dutch national debt hits ƒ4,218,553,180.99
1940 - 37 U boats sunk this month (213,000 ton)
1941 - Young Park (2) in the Bronx named in honor of Samuel Young
1942 - 60 U boats sunk this month (330,000 ton)
1942 - Battle in Barents Sea
1942 - Potatoes rationed in Holland
Singer/Actor Frank SinatraSinger/Actor Frank Sinatra 1943 - NYC's Times Square greets Frank Sinatra at Paramount Theater
1944 - 48 people die in a train accident in Ogden, Utah
1944 - Japanese army evacuates harbor city Akyab
1944 - World War II: Hungary declares war on Germany.
1945 - Bradman scores 112, his 1st post-War century, SA v Aust Services
1945 - Ratification of UN Charter completed
1946 - French troops leave Lebanon
1946 - Pres Harry Truman officially proclaims end of WW II
1948 - Dutch police actions up Java gone on strike
1949 - 18 countries recognize Republic Indonesia
1950 - Jockeys W Shoemaker & Joe Culmone set record of 388 wins in a year
1951 - 1st battery to convert radioactive energy to electrical announced
1953 - Hulan Jack sworn in as Manhattan Borough president
1953 - WFBC (now WYFF) TV channel 4 in G'ville-Spartanburg, SC (NBC) begins
1953 - Willie Shoemaker shatters record, riding 485 winners in a year
33rd US President Harry Truman33rd US President Harry Truman 1955 - "Vamp" closes at Winter Garden Theater NYC after 60 performances
1955 - The General Motors Corporation becomes the first U.S. corporation to make over $1 billion USD in a year.
1957 - AAU awards Bobby Morrow, James Sullivan Memorial Trophy
1958 - 47th Davis Cup: USA beats Australia in Brisbane (3-2)
1958 - Cuban dictator Batista tells his Cabinet he is fleeing the country
1958 - International Geophyscial Year ends
1958 - Willie Shoemaker 1st jockey to win national riding championship 4X
1961 - "lrma La Douce" closes at Plymouth Theater NYC after 527 performances
1961 - 1st performance of Beach Boys
1961 - Beach Boys play their debut gig under that name
1961 - Failed coup by Syrian group in Lebanon
1961 - Green Bay Packers shutout NY Giants 37-0 in NFL championship game
1961 - Marshall Plan expires after distributing more than $12 billion
1962 - "Match Game" debuts on NBC with host Gene Rayburn
1962 - American Basketball League announces suspension of operation
1962 - Dutch leave New Guinea
1962 - Katanga becomes part of Democratic Republic of Congo
1962 - Ohio ends suit against Reds when they agree to stay in Cin for 10 yrs
1963 - Chicago Bears win NFL championship
1963 - Dear Abby show premieres on CBS radio (runs 11 years)
1963 - Jerry Garcia & Bob Weir played music together for the 1st time
Cuban President and Dictator Fulgencio BatistaCuban President and Dictator Fulgencio Batista 1964 - Donald Campbell (UK) sets world water speed record (276.33 mph)
1964 - Indonesia proclaims expelled from the UN
1966 - Monkee's "I'm a Believer" hits #1 & stays there for 7 weeks
1966 - Pirate Radio 390 (Radio Invicata) off England, resumes transmitting
1966 - Test Cricket debut of Bishen Singh Bedi, India v WI Calcutta, 2-92
1966 - Toboggan Chutes begin operation in Cleveland Metroparks
1967 - "Henry, Sweet Henry" closes at Palace Theater NYC after 80 perfs
1967 - 1st NBA game at Great Western Forum, LA Lakers beat Houston 147-118
1967 - Oakland Raiders beat Houston Oilers 40-7 in AFL championship game
1967 - Packers beat Cowboys 21-17 in NFL championship game (-13°F)
1968 - 1st supersonic airliner flown (Russian TU-144)
1968 - 1st test flight of Tupolev TU 144
1968 - NY Jets win AFL championship
1969 - Congo-Brazzaville becomes People's republic, under major Ngouabi
1970 - Congress authorizes Eisenhower dollar coin
1970 - Paul McCartney files a lawsuit to disolve the Beatles
1970 - President Allende nationalizes Chilean coal mines
1970 - Would have been start of Aust/Eng Test Cricket at MCG, washed out
1971 - KAID TV channel 4 in Boise, ID (PBS) begins broadcasting
1971 - Lt Gen Robert E Cushman, Jr, USMC, ends term as deputy director of CIA
1972 - 39th Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma 14 beats Penn State 0
1972 - Leap second day; also in 1973-79, 1987
1972 - Miami Dolphins beat Pittsburgh Steelers 21-7 in AFC championship game
1972 - Washington Redskins beat Dallas Cowboys 26-3 in NFC championship game
1973 - 40th Sugar Bowl: Notre Dame 24 beats Alabama 23
1973 - 61st Australian Mens Tennis: John Newcombe beats O Parun (63 67 75 61)
1973 - Johan Cruyff chosen European soccer Player of year
1974 - 41st Sugar Bowl: Nebraska 13 beats Florida 10
1974 - Gold legal in US, Franklin Mint strikes Panama's Gold 100 balboa coin
1974 - Lindsey Buckingham & Stevie Nicks join Fleetwood Mac
1974 - NY Yankees sign Jim "Catfish" Hunter for 5 yrs for a record $3.75 million
1974 - Popular Electronics displays Altair 8800 computer
1975 - 42nd Sugar Bowl: Alabama 13 beats Penn State 6
1976 - TV soap "Somerset" ends 6 year run
1976 - The Cars played their 1st gig
1977 - "Bubbling Brown Sugar" closes at ANTA Theater NYC after 766 perfs
1977 - "Man of La Mancha" closes at Palace Theater NYC after 124 performances
1977 - Amir Sheikh Jabir al-Ahmad al-Jabir Al Sabah becomes leader of Kuwait
1977 - Cambodia drops diplomatic relations with Vietnam
1977 - Donald Woods, a banned white editor flees South Africa
1977 - Ted Bundy escapes from jail in Colorado
1977 - WFAT (Brooklyn New York pirate radio station) begins broadcasting on 1620 AM
1978 - "Magic Show" closes at Cort Theater NYC after 1859 performances
1978 - "Runaways" closes at Plymouth Theater NYC after 199 performances
1978 - CIA director, Admiral Stansfield Turner retires from the Navy
1978 - Iran shah names Chapour Bakhtiar premier
1978 - Taiwan's final day of diplomatic relations with US
1979 - Winterland Rock Concert Hall in SF closes after 556 concerts
1980 - A Jewish owned hotel in Nairobi Kenya is bombed killing 18
1980 - NY Islanders greatest shutout margin (9-0) vs Chicago Black Hawks
1980 - Senegal president Leopold Senghor resigns
1981 - CNN Headline News debuts
1981 - Lt Jerry Rawlings becomes head of Ghana, suspends constitution
1981 - Netherlands unemployment stands at record 475,000
1982 - CBS Mystery Theater final episode on radio after 8 years
1982 - NBC radio cancels almost all of its network daily features
1982 - TV soap "Doctors" ends 19 year run
1983 - Brunei gains complete independence from Britain
1983 - Jose Happart installed as mayor of Voeren Belgium
1983 - Nigeria's National Assembly dissolves after military coup
1984 - Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen loses his arm in a car crash
1984 - NYC subway gunman Bernhard Goetz surrenders to police in NH
1984 - Rajiv Gandhi takes office as India's 6th PM succeeding his mother Indira Gandhi
1984 - Test Cricket debut of Mohammad Azharuddin, v England at Calcutta
1984 - US leaves UNESCO
1986 - Dupont Plaza Hotel fire in San Juan, Puerto Rico kills 97
1986 - Russian TU-144 flies for 1st time faster than sound
1986 - WIS-AM in Columbia SC changes call letters to WVOC (now WOMG)
1989 - "Me & My Girl" closes at Marquis Theater NYC after 1420 performances
1989 - "Threepenny Opera" closes at Lunt-Fontanne Theater NYC after 65 perfs
1989 - Fog Bowl: Heavy fog rolls in on Bears 20-12 victory over Eagles
1989 - Jockey Kent Desormeaux sets record with 598 wins in a year
1990 - Iraq begins a military draft of 17 year olds
1990 - Sci-Fi Channel on cable TV begins transmitting
1990 - United Somali Congress seizes Presidential Palace
1991 - CPN, Communist Party of Netherland, last day of existance
1991 - Daniel R McCarthy elected NY Yankee managing general partner
1991 - Dow Jones closes at record high 3168.83
1991 - J Donald Crump resigned as CFL Commissioner
1991 - USSR, last day of existence
1992 - Target date for Europe's single market
1993 - Barbra Striesand does her 1st live public concert in 20 years
1994 - 1st snowless December in Baltimore Maryland
1994 - Anti Apartheid Group of Netherlands (AABN) disbands
1994 - This date is skipped altogether in Kiribati as the Phoenix Islands and Line Islands change time zones from UTC-11 to UTC+13 and UTC-10 to UTC+14, respectively.
1995 - "Danny Gans on Broadway" closes at Neil Simon NYC
1995 - "Having Our Say" closes at Booth Theater NYC after 308 performances
1995 - "Heiress" closes at Cort Theater NYC after 340 performances
1995 - "Paul Roebson" closes at Longacre Theater NYC after 14 performances
1995 - "Racing Demon" closes at Vivian Beaumont Theater NYC after 48 perfs
1995 - "Tempest" closes at Broadhurst Theater NYC after 71 performances
1995 - 62nd Sugar Bowl: Virginia Tech beats Texas
1995 - Cartoonist Bill Watterson ends his "Calvin & Hobbes" comic strip
1995 - Matthew Elliott scores separate cricket century same day for Victoria
1997 - Intel cuts price of Pentium II-233 MHz from $401 to $268
1997 - Marv Levy, retires as coach of Buffalo Bills
1997 - Microsoft buys Hotmail E-mail service
1997 - More Swedes died than were born in 1997, 1st time since 1809
1997 - Orlando Hernandez, half-brother of pitcher Livan, defects from Cuba
1997 - S Afr & US surgeons separate Zambian Siamese twins joined at the head
1998 - US movie box office hits record $6.24 billion for year
1998 - Exchange rates between the euro and legacy currencies in the Eurozone become fixed.
1999 - Control of Panama Canal reverts to Panama
Russian President Boris YeltsinRussian President Boris Yeltsin 1999 - Boris Yeltsin resigns as President of Russia, leaving Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as the acting President.
2004 - The official opening of Taipei 101, the current tallest skyscraper in the world, standing at a height of 509 metres (1,670 feet).
2007 - Bocaue Fire. Seven people injured when a fire razed several fireworks stores in the Municipality of Bocaue, Bulacan, Philippines.
2007 - The Massive Big Dig construction project in Boston, Massachusetts ends.

1687 - The first Huguenots set sail from France for the Cape of Good Hope, where they would later create the South African wine industry with the vines they took with them on the voyage.   1695 - The window tax was imposed in Britain, which resulted in many windows being bricked up.   1711 - The Duke of Marlborough was dismissed as commander-in-chief.   1775 - The British repulsed an attack by Continental Army generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold at Quebec. Montgomery was killed in the battle.   1841 - The State of Alabama enacted the first dental legislation in the U.S.   1857 - Britain's Queen Victoria decided to make Ottawa the capital of Canada.   1862 - U.S. President Lincoln signed an act admitting West Virginia to the Union.   1877 - U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes became the first U.S. President to celebrate his silver (25th) wedding anniversary in the White House.   1879 - Thomas Edison gave his first public demonstration of incandescent lighting to an audience in Menlo Park, NJ.   1891 - New York's new Immigration Depot was opened at Ellis Island, to provide improved facilities for the massive numbers of arrivals.   1897 - Brooklyn, NY, spent its last day as a separate entity before becoming part of New York City.   1923 - In London, the BBC first broadcast the chimes of Big Ben.   1929 - Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians played "Auld Lang Syne" as a New Year's Eve song for the first time.   1946 - U.S. President Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.   1947 - Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were married.   1953 - Willie Shoemaker broke his own record as he won his 485th race of the year.   1954 - The last episode of the radio show "Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok" aired.   1955 - General Motors became the first U.S. corporation to earn more than one billion dollars in a single year.   1960 - The farthing coin, which had been in use in Great Britain since the 13th century, ceased to be legal tender.   1961 - In the U.S., the Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than $12 billion in foreign aid.   1967 - The Green Bay Packers won the National Football League championship game by defeating the Dallas Cowboys 21-17. The game is known as the Ice Bowl since it was played in a wind chill of 40 degrees below zero. (NFL)   1974 - Private U.S. citizens were allowed to buy and own gold for the first time in more than 40 years.   1978 - Taiwanese diplomats struck their colors for the final time from the embassy flagpole in Washington, DC. The event marked the end of diplomatic relations with the U.S.   1979 - At year end oil prices were 88% higher than at the start of 1979.   1986 - A fire at the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, killed 97 and injured 140 people. Three hotel workers later pled guilty to charges in connection with the fire.   1990 - Titleholder Gary Kasparov of the U.S.S.R. won the world chess championship match against his countryman Anatoly Karpov.   1996 - NCR Corp. became an independent company.   1997 - Michael Kennedy, 39-year-old son of the late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, was killed in a skiing accident on Aspen Mountain in Colorado.   1999 - Russian President Boris Yeltsin resigned. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was designated acting president.   1999 - Five hijackers left the airport where they had been holding 150 hostages on an Indian Airlines plane. They left with two Islamic clerics that they had demanded be freed from an Indian prison. The plane had been hijacked during a flight from Katmandu, Nepal to New Dehli on December 24.   1999 - Sarah Knauss died at the age of 119 years. She was the world's oldest person. She was born September 24, 1880.

1879 Thomas Edison gave the first public demonstration of an electric incandescent lamp. 1938 The first breath test for drivers, "drunkometer," was introduced in Indianapolis. 1946 President Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II. 1961 The Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than $12 billion in foreign aid. 1963 Central African Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was formally dissolved. 1964 The al-Fatah guerrillas of Yasser Arafat launched their first terrorist raid on Israel. 1987 Robert Mugabe sworn in as Zimbabwe's president.

The following links are to web sites that were used to complete this blog entry:

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Beijing's Nightmare

Pollution has gotten very bad in China. That is particularly true of the capital city of Beijing.

These are some links that illustrate just how bad it has gotten there nowadays.

China took over the role that the United States had long held before that as the world's biggest polluting nation. I am certainly not a big fan of Americans criticizing the Chinese, or anyone else, for that matter, for things that they themselves are very guilty of. I still remember the incident when American athletes embarrassed the nation (as far as I'm concerned) by showing up to Beijing for the 2008 games wearing masks, as a sort of protest against environmental conditions there. Were they also outraged enough to protest Bush's gutting strong environmental legislation and enforcement at the time? Do they show up wearing similar masks when they visit infamously polluted American areas and cities, such as Los Angeles? Where were they for the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico a few years back? Maybe they should show up at places like Ohio and West Virginia when drinking water in those places has clearly become polluted.

Still, in any case, it does seem that Beijing is a particularly striking example of what we, as a world, may face some day, if we do not straighten up our act in a hurry.

Apparently, we may collectively need to take lessons from the Chinese in coping with massive pollution.

Here are some links that show the extent of environmental damage in Beijing:

Inside Beijing's airpocalypse – a city made 'almost uninhabitable' by pollution Oliver Wainwright in Beijing Tuesday 16 December 2014

China starts televising the sunrise on giant TV screens because Beijing is so clouded in smog By JAMES NYE and ASSOCIATED PRESS REPORTER, 16 January 2014:


Beijing Air Pollution: Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI)

GOP Leader Steve Scalise Attended a Function Held by White Supremacists

One of the top ranking Republicans in the country (he is the new House majority Whip), and naturally, a man much admired by Tea Party advocates, has admitted to being an honored guest and speaker at a function hosted by white supremacists.

In 2002, he spoke for assembled guests of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), an organization that was founded by former Klansman and one of the most famous white supremacists in the nation, David Duke. Duke himself used to be a rather prominent member of the GOP, when he ran in the Louisiana race for governor, and came fairly close to winning!

This is one of the major problems that keeps nagging at Tea Party advocates and sympathizers, this issue of closet racism. Their vehement hatred of President Obama sometimes smacks of racism, and too many members and sympathizers seem to have similar leanings. Then, when news like this gets out about such a prominent member of Congress, it really begins to make you scratch your head!

Of course, Scalise conveniently claims not to remember, although importantly he also did not deny it, which itself is very revealing.

The issue is not so much whether Scalise himself is a white supremacist, but rather, that he was willing to go to such lengths and try to cater to the votes of white supremacists. That is an act that itself is rather despicable, and very, very political in a certain, cynical sense.

What should happen, and what he deserves, is for him to be stripped of his recently won position, as a clear and unambiguous message that catering to such extremist hate groups is intolerable under any circumstances, no matter what. In this country, given the history of racism both institutionalized and de facto, this is one of the lowest actions of any prominent politician that I have ever heard of - and that is saying something!

The Democratic party jumped on the opportunity to pounce on a prominent Republican suddenly compromised like this, saying that he helped to legitimize a white supremacist group, and that he needs to apologize for it. They added that this was a huge blemish on his record.

Also, at some point, there has to be some kind of acknowledgement by people about just how big a problem racism really is in this country. With stories like this, and that segregated proms still take place in the South, not to mention so many of the other outrageous headlines revealing a fairly widespread xenophobia bubbling just beneath the superficially calm surface of the nation, it is high time that we have an honest look and open debate about this issue.

In the meantime, let us hope that Scalise falls into deserved obscurity, and is not seen or heard from in national politics again, period.

Below are some links to this story:

Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana Acknowledges Addressing Racist Group in 2002 By ASHLEY PARKER and ALAN RAPPEPORTDEC. 29, 2014:

GOP Leader Steve Scalise Admits to Addressing White Supremacists

Steve Scalise spoke to white nationalists in 2002. His days as GOP whip could be numbered. By Nia-Malika Henderson December 29, 2014:


Tombstone is just one of those films.

It was and remains immensely popular among some crowds, with a strong and loyal cult following, and I will admit to liking it quite a bit myself. Not even entirely sure why, and I know that, on some level, it's greatly exaggerated and even stupid, at times.

Still, I guess you can call it a guilty pleasure for me.

The first time that I saw the movie was actually in the theaters with a bunch of friends, if memory serves correctly. Being younger, it made an impression on me, and perhaps on some level, watching that movie takes me back a little bit to my own more youthful days.

There was a period of years when I went without seeing this movie, which used to fascinate me when I was younger, back in the nineties.

But then, fairly recently, it came on again. It was on tv, and I decided to watch it. And once again, I found myself enjoying myself to a surprising degree while watching it. Then, with the benefit of the internet, I did some research, and found out that a lot of the events portrayed in the movie actually happened! Surely, they did not happen the way that the movie portrayed it, but still, it is an impressive series of events that happened, and rocked the world, essentially!

In any case, yes, I love the movie. Call it a guilty pleasure, if you will. But I like Val Kilmer's Doc Holliday, and Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp. This was one of the few westerns that I really kind of loved, and it was one from my generation, if you will.

See if you agree!

Here it is, available on Youtube, as well as a clip that reveals the memorable exchange in Latin between Doc Holliday and Johnny Ringo:

On This Day in History - December 30 Soviet Union Established

Once again, it should be reiterated, that this does not pretend to be a very extensive history of what happened on this day (nor is it the most original - the links can be found down below). If you know something that I am missing, by all means, shoot me an email or leave a comment, and let me know!

Dec 30, 1922: USSR established         

In post-revolutionary Russia, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) is established, comprising a confederation of Russia, Belorussia, Ukraine, and the Transcaucasian Federation (divided in 1936 into the Georgian, Azerbaijan, and Armenian republics). Also known as the Soviet Union, the new communist state was the successor to the Russian Empire and the first country in the world to be based on Marxist socialism.  
During the Russian Revolution of 1917 and subsequent three-year Russian Civil War, the Bolshevik Party under Vladimir Lenin dominated the soviet forces, a coalition of workers' and soldiers' committees that called for the establishment of a socialist state in the former Russian Empire. In the USSR, all levels of government were controlled by the Communist Party, and the party's politburo, with its increasingly powerful general secretary, effectively ruled the country. Soviet industry was owned and managed by the state, and agricultural land was divided into state-run collective farms.  

In the decades after it was established, the Russian-dominated Soviet Union grew into one of the world's most powerful and influential states and eventually encompassed 15 republics--Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Belorussia, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. In 1991, the Soviet Union was dissolved following the collapse of its communist government.

Dec 30, 1916: Rasputin murdered

Grigory Rasputin, a self-fashioned Russian holy man, is murdered by Russian nobles eager to end his sway over the royal family.  

Rasputin won the favor of Czar Nicholas II and Czarina Alexandra through his ability to stop the bleeding of their hemophiliac son, Alexei. Although the Siberian-born peasant was widely criticized for his lechery and drunkenness, he exerted a powerful influence on the ruling family of Russia. He particularly influenced the czarina, and when Nicholas departed to lead Russian forces in World War I, Rasputin effectively ruled Russia through her.  

In the early hours of December 30, 1916, a group of nobles lured Rasputin to Yusupovsky Palace, where they attempted to poison him. Seemingly unaffected by the large doses of poison placed in his wine and food, he was finally shot at close range and collapsed. A minute later he rose, beat one of his assailants, and attempted to escape from the palace grounds, where he was shot again. Rasputin, still alive, was then bound and tossed into a freezing river. A few months later, the imperial regime was overthrown by the Russian Revolution.

Dec 30, 1853: Southern U.S. border established

James Gadsden, the U.S. minister to Mexico, and General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the president of Mexico, sign the Gadsden Purchase in Mexico City. The treaty settled the dispute over the location of the Mexican border west of El Paso, Texas, and established the final boundaries of the southern United States. For the price of $15 million, later reduced to $10 million, the United States acquired approximately 30,000 square miles of land in what is now southern New Mexico and Arizona.  

Jefferson Davis, the U.S. secretary of war under President Franklin Pierce, had sent Gadsden to negotiate with Santa Anna for the land, which was deemed by a group of political and industrial leaders to be a highly strategic location for the construction of the southern transcontinental railroad. In 1861, the "big four" leaders of western railroad construction--Collis P. Huntington, Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker--established the Southern Pacific branch of the Central Pacific Railroad. 

Dec 30, 1968: Led Zeppelin captured live for the first time in Spokane gym

Within a year, they'd be big. Within two, they'd be huge. And within three, they'd be the biggest band in the world. But on December 30, 1968, the quartet of British rockers preparing for their fifth-ever gig in the United States were using propane heaters to keep themselves and their equipment warm while they waited to go on as the opening act for Vanilla Fudge at a concert in a frigid college gymnasium in western Washington State. A few serious rock fans in attendance had at least heard about the new band formed around the former guitarist from the now-defunct Yardbirds, but if those fans even knew the name of this new group, they might not have recognized it in the ads that ran in the local newspaper. The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Washington, ran an advertisement on this day in 1968 for a concert at Gonzaga University featuring "The Vanilla Fudge, with Len Zefflin"—a concert of which a bootleg recording would later emerge that represents the first-ever live Led Zeppelin performance captured on tape.  

At the end of the now widely available recording known as Gonzaga '68, Robert Plant can be heard introducing himself and his bandmates—John Paul Jones on bass, Jimmy Page on guitar and John Bonham on drums—to a smattering of applause. But some of those who were in attendance that day remember their reaction as being stronger. In a Spokesman-Review article published 29 years after the night in question, Bob Gallagher, a teenage record-store employee at the time, recalled the show's opening number: ""Bonham came out and started drumming on 'Train Kept a-Rollin'," Gallagher said, "and everybody went, 'Holy crap.'"  

"What I mostly remember is when Jimmy Page took out a violin bow and began bowing his double-neck guitar," said another concertgoer, Jeff Nadeau. "The house was universally mind-blown. It was the most stunning and awesome sound ever."  

There is nothing raw or un-Led Zeppelin-like about the sound captured by an unknown Gonzaga student on a small, portable tape recorder that day. The Gonzaga '68 bootleg features the band performing tight and thrilling versions of some songs that are now considered classics but were then unknown to those in attendance. Indeed, halfway through the set, Robert Plant introduces one number as follows: "This is off an album that comes out in about three weeks time on the Atlantic label. It's called Led Zeppelin. This is a tune called 'Dazed and Confused.'"

Here's a more detailed look at events that transpired on this date throughout history:

987 - French King Hugo Capet crowns his son Robert the compassionate king
1317 - Pontifical degree "Sancta Romania" against spiritualists
1460 - Wars of the Roses: Battle of Wakefield.
1621 - English king James I cracks Protestation of Parliament
1665 - "Messiah" Sjabtai Tswi departs to Constantinople
1666 - Abraham Crijnssen departs to Suriname
1672 - Baron Karl Rabenhaupt occupies Coevorden Neth
1685 - Don Francisco de Agurto installed as land guardian of S Netherlands
1689 - Henry Purcell & Tates opera "Dido & Aeneas," premieres in Chesea
1703 - Tokyo hit by Earthquake; about 37,000 die
1731 - 1st US music concert (Peter Pelham's great room in Boston)
1794 - French troops conquer Grave Neth
1809 - Wearing masks at balls forbidden in Boston
1813 - Danzig surrenders to allied armies
1816 - The Treaty of St. Louis is proclaimed.
1817 - 1st coffee planted in Hawaii (Kona)
1835 - After gold discovery in Ga, Cherokees forced to move across Miss R
1835 - HMS Beagle/Charles Darwin sails from NZ to Sydney
1836 - Lehman-theater in St Petersburg catches fire; 100s die
1844 - Opera "Stradella" after being rewritten is produced (Hamburg)
1853 - A dinner party is held inside a life-size model of an Iguanodon created by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins and Sir Richard Owen in south London.
1854 - Pennsylvania Rock Oil Co, 1st in US, incorporated in NYC
1861 - US, banks stops payments in gold
1869 - Philadelphia Knights of Labor forms
1873 - American Metrological Society forms (NYC) weights, measures & money
1875 - Andrassy Note calls for Christian-Muslim religious freedoms
1877 - Johnannes Brahms' 2nd Symphony in D, premieres in Vienna
1879 - Gilbert & Sullivan's "Pirates of Penzance," premieres
1884 - Anton Bruckner's 7th Symphony in E, premieres in Leipzig
1888 - Belgium: king Leopold II installs Order of African Star
1892 - Dr Miles V Lynk, physician, publishes 1st Black medical journal
1893 - Russia signs military accord with France
1896 - Stanley Cup: Montreal Victorias beat Winnipeg Victorias, 6-5
1896 - José Rizal is executed by firing squad in Manila.
1897 - Province of Zululand annexed to Natal colony
1903 - Electric arc lamp sets fire to Iroquois theater in Chicago leaving 602 dead in one of the deadliest blazes in American history
1903 - American Political Science Association founded at New Orleans
1903 - Fire at Chicago's Iriquois Theater kills 602
1905 - Former Governor Frank Steunenberg is assassinated near his home in Caldwell, Idaho.
1906 - Iran becomes a constitutional monarchy
1906 - The All India Muslim League is founded in Dacca, East Bengal, British India Empire, which later laid down the foundations of Pakistan.
1907 - Abraham Mills' commission declares Abner Doubleday invented baseball
1908 - Stanley Cup: Mont Wanderers outscore Edmonton, 13-10 in 2 game set
1911 - Crickets S F Barnes takes 5-6 in 1st 11 overs v Aust at MCG
1911 - Sun Yat-sen elected 1st pres of Republic of China
1913 - Barnes takes 17 wickets vs South Africa (8-56 & 9-103)
1915 - Cromarty Harbour, Scot-British cruiser Natal explodes: 405 die
1917 - -32°F (-36°C) in Mountain City, Tennessee (state record)
1917 - -37°F (-38°C) in Lewisburg, WV (state record)
1918 - John E Hoover decides to be called J. Edgar Hoover
1919 - Lincoln's Inn in London admits its first female bar student.
1922 - Soviet Union organized as a federation of RSFSR, Ukrainian SSR, Belorussian SSR & Transcaucasian SSR
1924 - Edwin Hubble announces existence of other galactic systems
1925 - NSW score 705 against Victoria, go from 8-475 to 9-701
1926 - Paul Eliot Greens "In Abraham's Bosom," premieres in NYC
1926 - Chicago Tribune reports the Tigers threw a 4-game series to the White Sox in 1917 to help Chicago win the pennant (never substaniated)
1927 - Japan dedicates 1st subway in Orient (route under 2 miles long)
1929 - Cole Porter's musical "Wake Up & Dream," premieres in NYC
1929 - Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority incorporates
1932 - Bradman out for a duck v England at cricket MCG
1933 - -50°F (-46°C) in Bloomfield, Vermont (state record)
1933 - Government disallows NSB-membership for civil service
1933 - Jack Badcock scores 274 v Victoria, Tasmania's 1st double-ton
1935 - Italian bombers destroy Swedish Red Cross unit in Ethiopia
1936 - United Auto Workers stage 1st sit-down strike, at Fisher Body Plant
1938 - Electronic television system patented (V K Zworykin)
1939 - Bradman scores 267 SA v Vic, world record 34th double cricket century
1939 - O'Reilly takes 14-45 (8-23 & 6-22) as NSW crush Qld in 2 days
1940 - California's 1st freeway, (Arroyo Seco Parkway), opens
1941 - Nazibezetters oblige artsen member to become of Artsenkamer
1941 - Nazis require Dutch physicians to join Nazi organization
1941 - Winston Churchill addresses Canadian parliament
1943 - Phillies trade Babe Dahlgren to Pitts for Babe Phelps& amp; cash
1943 - Subhash Chandra Bose raises the flag of Indian independence at Port Blair.
1944 - King George II of Greece, abdicates his throne
1947 - 36th Davis Cup: USA beats Australia in New York (4-1)
1947 - King Michael of Romania, forced by communists abdicates his throne
1947 - Romanian republic proclaimed
1948 - "Kiss Me, Kate" opens at New Century Theater NYC for 1077 performances
1949 - India recognizes People's Republic of China
1950 - Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia become Independent states in France Union
1952 - Tuskegee Inst reports 1952 as 1st yr in 71 with no lynchings in US
1953 - The first ever NTSC color television sets go on sale for about USD at $1,175 each from RCA.
1954 - "House of Flowers" opens at Alvin Theater NYC for 165 performances
1954 - Harold Arlen/Truman Capotes musical premieres in NYC
1956 - NY Giants beat Chicago Bears 47-7 in NFL championship game
1957 - Israeli government of Ben-Gurion, resigns
1957 - New York Giants win NFL championship
1958 - French franc devalued
1959 - George Washington, 1st ballistic missile sub commissioned
1961 - Moscow: premier of Dmitri Sjostakovitch' 4th Symphony (out 1936)
1962 - Green Bay Packers beat NY Giants 16-7 in NFL championship game
1963 - "Let's Make A Deal," debuts on NBC-TV
1963 - Congress authorizes Kennedy half dollar
1963 - Green Bay Packers win NFL championship
1964 - Edward Albee's "Tiny Alice," premieres in NYC
1965 - Ferdinand Marcos inaugurated as president of the Phillipines
1967 - Beatles' "Hello Goodbye," single goes #1& amp; stays #1 for 3 weeks
1967 - Great Western Forum opens in LA
1968 - -48°F (-44°C), Mazama & Winthrop, Washington (state record)
1969 - USSR performs nuclear test at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk USSR
1971 - Long Island NHL franchise purchased (NY Islanders)
1971 - USSR performs nuclear test at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk USSR
1972 - Pres Nixon halts bombing of North Vietnam & announces peace talks
1973 - 1st picture of a comet from space (Comet Kohoutek-Skylab)
1973 - Miami Dolphins beat Oakland Raiders 27-10 in AFC championship game
1973 - Minnesota Vikings beat Dallas Cowboys 27-10 in NFC championship game
1974 - Beatles are legally disbanded (4 years after suit was brought)
1975 - "Boccaccio" closes at Edison Theater NYC after 7 performances
1975 - Constitution of Democratic Republic of Madagascar comes into force
1976 - USSR performs nuclear test at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk USSR
1977 - Carter holds 1st news conference by US pres in Eastern Europe (Warsaw)
1978 - "King & I" closes at Uris Theater NYC after 719 performances
1978 - Ohio State dismisses Woody Hayes as its football coach
1979 - Rock group, Emerson, Lake & Palmer break up
1979 - Togo adopts constitution
1980 - "Wonderful World of Disney," last performance on NBC-TV
1981 - Wayne Gretzky sets NHL record of 50 goals by 39th game of season
1982 - Anthony Shaffers "Whodunnit," premieres in NYC
1982 - England defeat Australia by three runs at cricket MCG
1982 - US Assay Office in New York City, NY closes
1984 - Miss Elizabeth (Hulette) & Macho Man Randy Savage (Poffo) wed
1985 - IBM-PC DOS Version 3.2 released
1985 - Pakistan restores constitution
1987 - Australia hang on for draw v NZ at MCG, 1 wkt left 17 runs short
1987 - Premier Mugabe elected president of Zimbabwe
1988 - Canadian Senate OK's free trade pact; with US
1988 - Former Soviet Pres Brezhnev's son-in-law sentenced to 12-yr (bribery)
1988 - Mercedes-Benz pays $20.2-M fine failed to meet '86 government fuel standard
1988 - North subpoenas Reagan & Bush as defense witnesses for upcoming trial
1989 - 10th United Negro College Fund raises $12,000,000
1989 - Dmitri Volkov swims world record 50m freestyle (27.15 sec)
1990 - "Miser" closes at Circle in Sq Theater NYC after 93 performances
1990 - 11th United Negro College Fund raises $10,000,000
1992 - Last day of Test Cricket for Michael Whitney
1992 - Shane Warne takes 7-52 to lead Australian MCG win v West Indies
1993 - "Candles, Snow, & Mistletoe" closes at Palace NYC after 7 perfs
1993 - Vatican recognizes Israel
1995 - Carquest Bowl 6: North Carolina beats Arkansas, 20-10
1995 - The lowest ever United Kingdom temperature of -27.2°C was recorded at Altnaharra in the Scottish Highlands. This equalled the record set at Braemar, Aberdeenshire on February 11, 1895 and January 10, 1982.
1996 - Proposed budget cuts by Benjamin Netanyahu spark protests from 250,000 workers who shut down services across Israel.
1997 - An abandoned building collapses on NY's 42nd St, no one hurt
1997 - In the worst incident in Algeria's insurgency, the Wilaya of Relizane massacres, 400 people are killed from four villages.
2000 - Rizal Day Bombings: A series of bombs explode in various places in Metro Manila, Philippines within a span of a few hours, killing 22 and injuring about a hundred.
2003 - U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft recuses himself and his office from the Plame affair.
2004 - A fire in the República Cromagnon nightclub in Buenos Aires, Argentina kills 194.
2005 - Tropical Storm Zeta forms in the open Atlantic Ocean, tying the record for the latest tropical cyclone ever to form in the North Atlantic basin.
2006 - Madrid Barajas International Airport is bombed.
2012 - 19 people are killed by a suicide bomber in Balochistan, Pakistan
2012 - 9 people are killed and 26 are injured in a tour bus crash off interstate 84, Oregon, US
2012 - The opening of Line 6 of the Beijing subway makes it the longest metro network in the world at 442km

1460 - At the Battle of Wakefield, in England's Wars of the Roses, the Duke of York was defeated and killed by the Lancastrians.   1853 - The United States bought about 45,000 square miles of land from Mexico in a deal known as the Gadsden Purchase.   1879 - Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance" was first performed, at Paignton, Devon, England.   1880 - The Transvaal was declared a republic. Paul Kruger became its first president.   1887 - A petition to Queen Victoria with over one million names of women appealing for public houses to be closed on Sundays was handed to the home secretary.   1903 - About 600 people died when fire broke out at the Iroquois Theater in Chicago, IL.   1919 - Lincoln's Inn, in London, admitted the first female bar student.   1922 - The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was formed.   1924 - Edwin Hubble announced the existence of other galactic systems.   1927 - The first subway in the Orient was dedicated in Tokyo, Japan.   1935 - Italian bombers destroyed a Sweedish Red Cross unit in Ethiopia.   1936 - The United Auto Workers union staged its first sit-down strike, at the Fisher Body Plant in Flint, MI.   1940 - California's first freeway was officially opened. It was the Arroyo Seco Parkway connecting Los Angeles and Pasadena.   1942 - "Mr. and Mrs. North" debuted on NBC radio.   1944 - King George II of Greece proclaimed a regency to rule his country, virtually renouncing the throne.   1947 - King Michael of Romania abdicated in favor of a Communist Republic. He claimed he was forced from his throne.   1948 - "Kiss Me Kate" opened at the New Century Theatre in New York City. Cole Porter composed the music for the classic play that ran for 1,077 performances.   1953 - The first color TV sets went on sale for about $1,175.   1954 - Pearl Bailey opened on Broadway in the play, "House of Flowers."   1954 - James Arness made his dramatic TV debut in "The Chase". The "Gunsmoke" series didn’t begin for Arness until the fall of 1955.   1961 - Jack Nicklaus lost his first attempt at pro golf to Gary Player in an exhibition match in Miami, FL.   1972 - The United States halted its heavy bombing of North Vietnam.   1976 - The Smothers Brothers, Tom and Dick, played their last show at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas and retired as a team from show business. Both continued as solo artists and they reunited several years later.   1978 - Ohio State University fired Woody Hayes as its football coach, one day after Hayes punched Clemson University player Charlie Bauman during the Gator Bowl. Bauman had intercepted an Ohio pass.   1980 - "The Wonderful World of Disney" was cancelled by NBC after more than 25 years on the TV. It was the longest-running series in prime-time television history.  Disney movies, music and books   1993 - Israel and the Vatican established diplomatic relations.   1996 - A passenger train was bombed by Bodo separatists in India's eastern state of Assam. At least 26 people were killed and dozens were seriously injured.   1996 - About 250,000 striking workers shut down vital services across Israel in protests against budget cuts proposed by Prime Minister Netanyahu.   1997 - More than 400 people were massacred in four villages in the single worst incident during Algeria's insurgency.

1853 The United States bought some 45,000 sq mi of land from Mexico in the Gadsden Purchase. 1911 Sun Yat-sen was elected the first president of the Republic of China. 1922 The Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics was established through the confederation of Russia, Byelorussia, Ukraine, and Transcaucasian Federation. 1940 California's first freeway opened. 1972 President Nixon halted the heavy bombing on North Vietnam. 1993 Israel and the Vatican signed an agreement of mutual recognition to put an end to Jewish-Christian hostilities.

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