Monday, February 12, 2018

Today In History

“History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.” Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending

1789 Ethan Allen dies

After fighting in the French and Indian War, Allen settled in what is now Vermont. At the outbreak of the American Revolution, he raised his force of Green Mountain Boys and Connecticut troops and helped capture the British fort at Ticonderoga, New York. Later, as a volunteer in General Philip Schuyler’s forces, he conducted a foolhardy attempt to take Montreal during which he was captured by the British and held prisoner until May 6, 1778. Congress conferred on Allen the rank of colonel with back pay, but he did not serve in the war after his release. Instead, he devoted his time to local affairs in Vermont, especially working for separate statehood from New York. 
1809 Abraham Lincoln is born

1912 Last emperor of China abdicates

1915 Lorne Greene is born 
The actor who played Ben Cartwright on the immensely popular television Western Bonanza, is born in Ontario, Canada.
1924 Rhapsody In Blue, by George Gershwin, performed for first time 
1934 Basketball great Bill Russell born
1941 Rommel in Africa
German General Erwin Rommel (the Desert Fox) arrived in Tripoli, Libya, with the newly formed Afrika Korps, to reinforce the beleaguered Italians’ position.
Adolf Hitler established the Afrika Korps for the explicit purpose of helping Benito Mussolini maintain territorial gains in North Africa. The British had been delivering devastating blows to the Italians; in three months they pushed the Italians out of Egypt while wounding or killing 20,000 Italian soldiers and taking another 130,000 prisoner.
When Hitler finally gave the go-ahead for an offensive against British positions in Egypt, General Erwin “The Desert Fox” Rommel’s forces were stopped dead in their tracks and then forced to retreat. In the famous battle of El Alamein, the British Eighth Army surprised the German commander with its brute resolve and pushed him and his Afrika Korps back across and out of North Africa.
1976 Actor Sal Mineo is killed in Hollywood
Many observers consider Mineo's greatest achievement was playing American film's first gay teenager in Rebel Without A Cause. Although no clear reference to homosexuality is ever made, the eroticism between Plato (played by Mineo) and Jimmy (played by James Dean) is palpable.
Mineo and Dean became fast friends off screen. Their obvious onscreen chemistry and Dean's known bisexuality, led many people to believe they had an affair while Rebel was being made.
On the night of February 12, 1976, Mineo returned home following a rehearsal for the play P.S. Your Cat Is Dead. After parking his blue Chevy Chevelle in the carport below his West Hollywood apartment, the 37-year-old actor was stabbed in the heart by a mugger who fled the scene. Police pursued all kinds of leads, but assumed the crime to be the result of some sort of “homosexual motivation.” Three years later, pizza deliveryman Lionel Ray Williams was convicted of the murder.

1972 Cambodians launch attack to retake Angkor Wat
About 6,000 Cambodian troops launch a major operation to wrestle the religious center of Angkor Wat from 4,000 North Vietnamese troops entrenched around the famous Buddhist temple complex, which had been seized in June 1970.
1973 Release of American POWs begins
The release of American prisoners of war began in Hanoi as part of the Paris peace settlement. The return of U.S. POWs began when North Vietnam released 142 prisoners at Hanoi’s Gia Lam Airport. Part of what was called Operation Homecoming, the first 20 POWs returned to a hero’s welcome at Travis Air Force Base. Operation Homecoming was completed on March 29, 1973, when the last of 591 U.S. prisoners were released and returned to the United States.
1986 Anatoly Scharansky released
After spending eight years in Soviet prisons and labor camps, human rights activist Anatoly Scharansky is released via an amnesty deal was arranged by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan at a summit meeting three months earlier.
Scharansky was imprisoned for his campaign to win the right for Russian Jews, officially forbidden to practice Judaism, to emigrate from the USSR. Convicted of treason and agitation, Soviet authorities also labeled him an American spy. After his release, he immigrated to Israel, where he was given a hero’s welcome.
1999 President Clinton acquitted
The five-week impeachment trial of President William Jefferson Clinton comes to an end, with the Senate voting to acquit the president on both articles of impeachment: perjury and obstruction of justice.
2002 Milosevic goes on trial for war crimes
Slobodan Milosevic was the main defendant in the most important war crimes trial since the military tribunals of the Nazis at Nuremberg.
The former president of Yugoslavia was accused of being responsible for the war crimes and genocide that occurred during the bloody Balkan wars in the early 1990s.
The case, held at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague, was the first attempt to prosecute war crimes since the end of World War II.
Milosevic faced three counts of crimes against humanity and one charge of violating the laws or customs of war. The most serious indictment against him related to genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995. Milosevic was accused of being behind the killing of thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats, including the infamous massacre of civilians at Srebrenica in 1995.
There were two charges of crimes against humanity relating to atrocities carried out in Kosovo in 1999 and in Croatia in 1991 and 1992. Serbian troops were described in court as committing acts of "almost medieval savagery and a calculated cruelty that went far beyond the bounds of legitimate warfare".
2008 GM reports record loss, offers buyouts to 74,000 workers

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