Tag Archives: World War II

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY: ROD STEIGER (1925)


Rod Steiger (1925)

American actor Rod Steiger got his start in the 1950s and quickly made a name for himself in Hollywood. Over the course of the next five decades, he appeared in dozens of motion pictures. He was thrice nominated for an Academy Award and won once—for his portrayal of Sheriff Bill Gillespie in In the Heat of the Night. As a teen, Steiger ran away from home to join the US Navy during World War II, but later his refusal to glorify war led him to turn down the title role in what film? More… Discuss

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THIS DAY IN THE YESTERYEAR: HARRY TRUMAN BECOMES 33RD PRESIDENT OF THE US (1945)


Harry Truman Becomes 33rd President of the US (1945)

Truman was the 33rd president of the US. He is remembered for authorizing the use of atomic bombs against Japan and for his opposition to Communism. A Democrat who largely accepted the New Deal tradition, he presided over victory in World War II and the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe. His administration also oversaw the beginning of the Cold War and the desegregation of the US armed forces. What famous headline ran in the Chicago Tribune the day after Truman won his second term? More… Discuss

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TODAY’S HOLIDAY: BATAAN DAY


Bataan Day

This is a national legal holiday in the Philippines, in commemoration of the disastrous World War II Battle of Bataan in 1942, in which the Philippines fell to the Japanese. It is also known as Araw ng Kagitingan, or Heroes Day. Also remembered on this date are the 37,000 U.S. and Filipino soldiers who were captured, and the thousands who died during the infamous 70-mile “death march” from Mariveles to a Japanese concentration camp inland at San Fernando. Ceremonies are held at Mt. Samat Shrine, the site of side-by-side fighting by Filipino and American troopsMore… Discuss

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THIS DAY IN THE YESTERYEAR: HOSTESS TWINKIES ARE INVENTED (1930)


Hostess Twinkies Are Invented (1930)

The Twinkie was invented by baker James Dewar, who noticed that the shop’s shortcake pans were only used during the strawberry season and otherwise sat idle. His thrifty idea to use the pans during the off-season led to the development of the banana-filled Twinkie snack cake. During a World War II banana shortage, vanilla filling replaced the original banana. Twinkies disappeared from US shelves in 2012 when Hostess declared bankruptcy but returned in 2013. What is the “Twinkie defense”? More… Discuss

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NEWS: WORLD WAR II STILL CLAIMING LIVES


World War II Still Claiming Lives

At least seven people were killed and 19 others injured when a World War II-era bomb detonated in a scrap metal warehouse in Bangkok, Thailand. The 500-lb (227-kg) bomb had been found by construction workers, who assumed it was inactive and sold it for scrap. When warehouse workers attempted to disassemble the bomb using a blowtorch, it exploded with devastating effect. This incident serves as a tragic reminder of the dangers posed by unexploded munitions and the need to call in experts any time such a device is found. More… Discuss

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TODAY’S BIRTHDAY: WILLIAM MANCHESTER (1922)


William Manchester (1922)

Manchester, an American historian, biographer, and bestselling author, published 18 books during his lifetime, including three popular volumes on US president John F. Kennedy. His writings have been translated into multiple languages. He served as a Marine during World War II, and his wartime experiences formed the basis for Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War. Why did Jacqueline Kennedy file a lawsuit to prevent the publication of Manchester’s The Death of a PresidentMore… Discuss

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THIS DAY IN THE YESTERYEAR: FAEROE ISLANDS GAIN HOME RULE (1948)


Faeroe Islands Gain Home Rule (1948)

The Faeroe Islands are a group of volcanic islands first settled by Irish monks circa 700 CE and colonized by Vikings about a century later. Since 1380, the islands have been under Danish rule. After World War II, the Faeroese sought independence, but the Danish king blocked any chance of this by dissolving the Faeroese parliament following a 1946 referendum in which residents voted for independence. Two years later, they were granted self-government. Where in the world are the Faeroe Islands? More… Discuss

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TODAY’S HOLIDAY: MYANMAR ARMED FORCES DAY


Myanmar Armed Forces Day

Throughout most of the 1800s, the Union of Myanmar, known as Burma until 1989, was ruled by the British.Aung San, an outspoken student leader, helped the Japanese oust the British, and the Japanese ruled Burma from 1942 until 1945. On March 27, 1945, he helped the World War II Allied forces remove the Japanese from power. Myanmar celebrates Armed Forces Day on March 27 to commemorate the day that Aung San rebelled against the Japanese. The day is celebrated with a military parade and fireworks. Since 1989, the Tatmadaw has made it a tradition to pardon several prisoners on this day. More… Discuss

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ARTICLE: THE LEANING TOWER OF PISA


The Leaning Tower of Pisa

In 1173, construction began on the final building of the cathedral complex in Pisa, Italy. The bell tower was designed to stand 185 feet (56 m) tall, but uneven settling of its foundation caused its 5.5-degree lean. Work was suspended several times, but the structure was still leaning upon completion in the 14th century. The tower’s tilt only worsened over time, prompting a recent strengthening project to prevent collapse. How did the tower narrowly escape destruction during World War II? More… Discuss

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THIS DAY IN THE YESTERYEAR: JAPAN ATTACKS AUSTRALIA (1942)


Japan Attacks Australia (1942)

In aviation’s early days, the pearling port of Broome in Western Australia served as a refueling point for planes flying between the Dutch East Indies—now Indonesia—and inland Australia. Therefore, when Japan invaded Java during World War II, the Allied evacuation route for Dutch refugees included a stop in Broome. On March 3, 1942, Japanese fighter planes attacked Broome, destroying upwards of 20 Allied aircraft, some of which were loaded with refugees at the time. How many died? More… Discuss

 

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ARTICLE: GEISHA: “ART PERSON”


Geisha: “Art Person”

A geisha is a traditional Japanese artist-entertainer skilled at conversation, singing, and dancing. The geisha system likely originated in the 17th century to provide a class of well-trained entertainers separate from courtesans and prostitutes. Even though geisha are usually women, the first ones were actually men. The numbers of geisha have declined from some 80,000 in the 1920s to a few thousand today. Why did geisha often paint their teeth black as part of their formal make-up? More… Discuss

 

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TODAY’S BIRTHDAY: POPE PIUS XII (1876)


Pope Pius XII (1876)

Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli succeeded Pope Pius XI as Pius XII in 1939. Though he pursued projects aimed at helping prisoners and refugees of World War II, he maintained the Vatican‘s neutrality for the duration of the conflict, believing that preserving relations with all the belligerents would aid his efforts to bring about peace. These wartime policies have since aroused considerable controversy. Which famous Jewish figures have expressed gratitude for his actions? More… Discuss

 

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THIS DAY IN THE YESTERYEAR: THE 228 MASSACRE (1947)


The 228 Massacre (1947)

Following Japan‘s defeat in World War II, Taiwan was placed under the administrative control of the Republic of China. The transition did not go smoothly. The Taiwanese had been content under Japanese rule and quickly grew to resent the heavy-handed tactics of the Kuomintang. On February 27, 1947, a dispute between a cigarette vendor and authorities escalated the next day into an anti-government uprising that was violently suppressed. How many Taiwanese are thought to have been massacred? More… Discuss

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TODAY’S BIRTHDAY: PAUL WARFIELD TIBBETS, JR. (1915)


Paul Warfield Tibbets, Jr. (1915)

A US Air Force colonel during World War II, Tibbets is best known for piloting the Enola Gay—named for his mother—on August 6, 1945, when it dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The bomb, code-named Little Boy, was the first atomic weapon deployed in the history of warfare and killed tens of thousands of people. Initially hailed as a hero in the US, Tibbets became a target of controversy in the debate over the ethics of atomic warfare. What was his stance on the bombing later in life? More… Discuss

 

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THIS DAY IN THE YESTERYEAR: INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR STANDARDIZATION (ISO) IS FOUNDED (1947)


International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Is Founded (1947)

The ISO is a worldwide federation of national standards bodies from some 100 countries. It was founded in Geneva after World War II to promote the development of standardization and related activities, with a view to facilitating the international exchange of goods and services as well as intellectual, scientific, technological, and economic cooperation. At first glance, ISO appears to be an acronym for the group’s full name, but it is not. Rather, it is derived from a Greek word for what? More… Discuss

 

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NEWS: THE NAZIS AND INSECT WARFARE


The Nazis and Insect Warfare

Biological warfare was prohibited by the 1925 Geneva Protocol, but this did not stop Nazi scientists from looking for ways to weaponize diseases. A review of World War II-era archives from the Entomological Institute at Dachau reveals that biologists were studying mosquitoes and their ability to survive outside of their natural habitat. Doctors at the concentration camp also deliberately infected prisoners with malaria in order to study the disease. The conclusion drawn by a researcher investigating the topic is that the Nazis were exploring the feasibility of infecting mosquitoes with malaria and then releasing them over enemy targets. More… Discuss

 

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ARTICLE: TECHNOPHOBIA


Technophobia

Technophobia—a fear of advanced technology—emerged alongside the mechanical innovations of the Industrial Revolution and became ever more pervasive as inventions ranging from the light bulb to the atomic bomb demonstrated technology’s astounding capabilities. Mild technophobia is quite common—many experience it when facing an unfamiliar computer system at a new job. More acute technophobes see technology as inherently dangerous. What well-known novel was one of the first to tackle technophobia? More… Discuss

 

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TODAY’S BIRTHDAY: PIERRE BOULLE (1912)


Pierre Boulle (1912)

At the start of WWII, engineer Pierre Boulle enlisted in the French Army. Later, while a secret agent for the Free French, he was captured and imprisoned in a labor camp, an experience that inspired him to write his acclaimed work of historical fiction The Bridge over the River Kwai. Its 1957 film adaptation won seven Oscars, including one for screenplay that was awarded to Boulle since the actual writers had been blacklisted as communist sympathizers. What other famous novel did he pen? More… Discuss

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TODAY’S HOLIDAY: ANNIVERSARY OF THE BOMBING OF DARWIN


Anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin

On February 19, 1942, Japanese bomber and fighter planes conducted a devastating air raid on the town ofDarwin, the capital city of Australia’s Northern Territory. As a tribute to honor the dead and those who defended Darwin, an annual commemoration is held in Bicentennial Park by theCenotaph, a monument to those slain in World War I. At 9:58, the exact time the attack began, a World War II air raid siren sounds. During some observances, Australian regiments will reenact the attack: ground units fire their guns, and fighter planes perform  fly-bys over the memorial site. More…Discuss

 

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TODAY’S BIRTHDAY: DOMINIQUE PIRE (1910)


Dominique Pire (1910)

Pire was a Belgian Dominican friar who devoted himself to helping the poor and to promoting peace. Witnessing the horrors of World War II, he became active in the anti-German resistance. After the war, he devoted himself to caring for the refugees, writing a book about the issue, founding aid organizations, and building villages to house displaced persons. He was rewarded for his humanitarian efforts with a Nobel Peace Prize in 1958. What “university” did he found thereafter? More…

 

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THIS DAY IN THE YESTERYEAR: USS LAFAYETTE, FORMERLY SS NORMANDIE, BURNS (1942)


USS Lafayette, Formerly SS Normandie, Burns (1942)

The luxuriously appointed SS Normandie was the fastest ocean liner of her day and carried such distinguished passengers as Ernest Hemingway, Fred Astaire, and the von Trapps before a twist of fate brought that to an end. When World War II began, the French vessel was docked in New York. The US seized her for use as a troop transport, but a fire broke out on the renamed USS Lafayette during the refit, causing her to capsize. Who claimed to have sabotaged the ship? More… Discuss

 

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BBC News – Warsaw Ghetto: A survivor’s tale


 

 

Warsaw Jews being held at gunpoint by SS troop...

Warsaw Jews being held at gunpoint by SS troops. Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, April 1943. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

BBC News – Warsaw Ghetto: A survivor’s tale.

 

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TODAY’S HISTORY: MYANMAR INDEPENDENCE DAY


Myanmar Independence Day

The southeast Asian country of Burma (renamed Myanmar in 1989 by its military government), was given independence in 1948, when it refused to rejoin the British Commonwealth following Japanese occupation in World War II. The former capital,Yangon (formerly Rangoon), is decorated for Independence Day festivities, and the day is marked by sports and fairs in most cities. Burmese people dress in their national costume, which consists of an aingyi (blouse or shirt) and a longyi (skirt); panthay khowse (noodles and chicken) is traditionally served on this day, as is nga sak kin (curried fish balls). More… Discuss

THIS DAY IN THE YESTERYEAR: HIROHITO BECOMES EMPEROR OF JAPAN (1926)


Hirohito Becomes Emperor of Japan (1926)

Hirohito was the longest reigning Japanese monarch, ruling from 1926 to 1989. During his reign, militaristic Japan entered World War II and bombed Pearl Harbor. After the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, Hirohito pushed for surrender. He then broke the precedent of imperial silence by making a national radio broadcast to announce Japan’s surrender. After World War II, Hirohito changed the importance of the monarchy when he renounced what? More… Discuss

 

Today’s Birthday: GEORGES-MARIE GUYNEMER (1894)


Georges-Marie Guynemer (1894)

A top French fighter ace during World War I and a national hero, Guynemer shot down 53 enemy planes and survived being shot down several times before he presumably died in a firefight on September 11, 1917. During an engagement that fateful day, Guynemer’s plane disappeared, reportedly shot down by a German pilot who was himself killed in action weeks later. To ease the blow of the loss of their young hero, French schoolchildren were taught that what had happened to him? More…

 

Today’s Birthday: SELMA LAGERLÖF (1858)


Selma Lagerlöf (1858)

Lagerlöf was a Swedish author who is best known for her children’s book, The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. While working as a teacher, Lagerlöf got her big break as a writer when chapters of her first novel, Gösta Berling’s Saga, won first prize in a literary contest. Lagerlöf rooted her work in legend in a reaction against contemporary Swedish realism. In 1909, she became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. What did she do with her medal during World War II?More… Discuss

 

This Day in the Yesteryear: THE ROYAL AIR FORCE SINKS GERMAN BATTLESHIP TIRPITZ (1944)


The Royal Air Force Sinks German Battleship Tirpitz (1944)

The German Tirpitz, sister ship of the similarly ill-fatedBismarck, was the largest battleship ever built in Europe. Though she was sent to waters around German-occupied Norway and never really saw action in World War II, her mere presence threatened Allied convoys and tied up their naval resources. The Allies therefore launched numerous attacks on the Tirpitz in an effort to destroy her. After the Allies succeeded, her armor plates were supposedly repurposed for what use?More… Discuss

 

This Day in the Yesteryear: PUBLISHING MAGNATE ROBERT MAXWELL DIES MYSTERIOUSLY AT SEA (1991)


Publishing Magnate Robert Maxwell Dies Mysteriously at Sea (1991)

A Czechoslovakian Jew, Maxwell fled to the UK during World War II and joined the British army. After the war, he purchased publishing house Pergamon Press. The company’s success helped him win election to Parliament in 1964, but a 1969 financial scandal cost him control of Pergamon and his political career. He regained control of the company in 1974 and rejuvenated and expanded his empire. What did investigators discover about Maxwell’s business dealings after his mysterious drowning death? More… Discuss

 

News: TROVE OF NAZI-LOOTED ART FOUND IN MUNCH MAN’S APARTMENT


Trove of Nazi-Looted Art Found in Munch Man’s Apartment

A cache of 1,500 works of art looted by the Nazis has been found in the apartment of a Munich, Germany, recluse being investigated for tax evasion. The man in question is the son of an art dealer who worked hand in hand with the Nazis during World War II. Valued at about one billion euros ($1.35 billion), this may well be one of the largest recoveries of Nazi-looted art, yet it represents only a small fraction of what was taken. Authorities discovered the trove in 2011, but news of the find is only emerging now. More… Discuss

 

Article: SIMA QIAN


Sima Qian

Near the end of the 2nd Century BCE, Qian succeeded his father as grand historian of the Chinese court. He extended a project planned by his father into a history of China and all regions and peoples known at the time. TheShih chi became a model for subsequent Chinese dynastic histories, and its wide range, many-faceted characterizations, and vivid dialogue have won admiration for over 2,000 years. He finished it after being castrated as punishment by the emperor for what offense? More… Discuss

 

ATONALITY


Atonality

Musical compositions that do not use an established musical key are said to be atonal. Atonality is a radical alternative to the diatonic system—the natural major or minor scales that form the basis of the key system in Western music. After World War I, an atonal system of composing emerged using 12 tones. By World War II, however, “atonality” had become a pejorative term to condemn music perceived as lacking structure and coherence. In Nazi Germany, atonal music was also criticized as what? More…

 

This Day in the Yesteryear: THE UNITED NATIONS IS FORMALLY ESTABLISHED (1945)


The United Nations Is Formally Established (1945)

The United Nations (UN) is an international organization founded to promote peace, security, and economic development. Representatives from the US, the UK, the Soviet Union, and China first met in 1944 to discuss the problems involved in creating such an agency, and the results of their talks became the basis for the UN Charter that was ratified in 1945. Established immediately after WWII, it replaced the essentially powerless League of Nations. Who first coined the term “United Nations”? More… Discuss

 

Today’s Birthday: EDWARD “EDDIE” RICKENBACKER (1890)


Edward “Eddie” Rickenbacker (1890)

A skilled American racecar driver, Rickenbacker entered World War I as a driver but soon became a fighter pilot. He shot down 26 enemy aircraft, earning the Congressional Medal of Honor and the moniker “Ace of Aces.” After a failed foray into automobile manufacturing, he ran several airlines for General Motors and eventually acquired one of them. In 1942, his plane was lost while on a tour of military bases in the Pacific, and he was presumed dead, but he was rescued after how many days adrift? More…Discuss

 

This day in the Yesteryear: RAYTHEON PATENTS PERCY SPENCER’S MICROWAVE (1945)


Raytheon Patents Percy Spencer’s Microwave (1945)

Self-taught engineer Percy Spencer discovered the cooking potential of microwaves in the 1940s. While working on magnetrons for the Raytheon Company, he noticed that a peanut butter chocolate bar in his pocket had melted. He determined that microwaves emitted from his magnetrons had cooked the candy bar and confirmed this theory by testing it on popcorn. Raytheon patented Spencer’s microwave oven in 1945 and put it on the market in 1947. What was the first food to explode in a microwave? More… Discuss

Today’s Birthday: ALICE MARBLE (1913)


Alice Marble (1913)

Marble was an American tennis player who began playing at age 15 and rose rapidly in the national tennis rankings after 1931. She won 18 Grand Slam championships: five in singles, six in doubles, and seven in mixed doubles. Her personal life, however, was filled with tragedy and intrigue. Her husband was killed during World War II, just days after Marble had suffered a miscarriage. She attempted suicide but recovered and, in 1945, began spying for US intelligence. What was her mission? More… Discuss

 

This Day in the Yesteryear: GERMANY, ITALY, AND JAPAN SIGN TRIPARTITE PACT (1940)


Germany, Italy, and Japan Sign Tripartite Pact (1940)

The World War II alliance of Germany, Italy, and Japan was fully realized in September 1940, with the signing of the Tripartite Pact. The agreement called for the Axis Powers to come to each other’s aid if attacked by a nation not already involved in the European War or the Sino-Japanese Conflict and to assist one another in their efforts to “establish and maintain a new order of things”—Germany and Italy in Europe and Japan in Greater East Asia. How did the treaty get the nickname “Roberto”? More…Discuss

 

Today’s Birthday: MAURICE CHEVALIER (1888)


Maurice Chevalier (1888)

Chevalier was a French actor, singer, and vaudeville entertainer known for his trademark tuxedo and straw hat. While a prisoner of war during World War I, Chevalier studied English. After the war, he began acting in the US, where he appeared in movies that helped establish the musical as a film genre. Though he put on a heavy French accent while performing in English, he actually spoke the language quite fluently with only a subtle accent. Why did his popularity dwindle during World War IIMore…Discuss

 

Today’s Birthday: WALTER ROBERT DORNBERGER (1895)


Walter Robert Dornberger (1895)

A German artillery officer during World War I, Dornberger was captured and spent two years in a French prisoner-of-war camp. After his release, he studied engineering, and, beginning in 1932, directed construction of the V-2 rocket, the forerunner of all post-war spacecraft. Along with other German scientists, Dornberger was brought to the US as part of Operation Paperclip and worked as an advisor on guided missiles for the US Air Force. He became a key consultant on what major American venture? More… Discuss

 

This Day in the Yesteryear: PADDY ROY BATES FOUNDS HIS OWN NATION (1967)


Paddy Roy Bates Founds His Own Nation (1967)

The Principality of Sealand is a purported micronation located on Roughs Tower, a World War II-era British sea fort located in the North Sea six miles (10 km) off the coast of Suffolk, England. Since 1966, the installation has been occupied by the associates and family of Paddy Roy Bates, a former British Army major and pirate radio broadcaster who claimed it as a sovereign and independent state in 1967. What is the international community’s position on the fort’s status as a sovereign nationMore… Discuss

 

Today’s Birthday: RAMON MAGSAYSAY (1907)


Ramon Magsaysay (1907)

A Philippine guerrilla leader during World War II, Magsaysay helped combat the Japanese occupation and clear the way for US forces to liberate the island nation. He then entered politics and, as secretary of defense, spearheaded one of the most successful antiguerrilla campaigns in modern history by currying favor with the peasantry—thereby depriving the Hukbalahap rebels of popular support. By 1953, the Huks were no longer a threat, and Magsaysay was elected president. How did he die? More… Discuss

 

CZECH HEDGEHOGS


Czech Hedgehogs

Early in World War II, Germany relied heavily on the great striking power of its fast-moving tank formations. To defend against the threat, the Czechs lined their borders with large iron obstacles shaped like toy jacks. Though not immovable, they cause tanks to get stuck after driving over them. While the Nazis went on to annex Czech territory in the Sudetenland, these obstacles, known as “Czech hedgehogs,” caught on with other combatants and were later employed in what famous battle? More… Discuss

This Day in the Yesteryear: THE BATTLE OF SAIPAN BEGINS (1944)


The Battle of Saipan Begins (1944)

With an approximate area of just 45 sq mi (117 sq km), the island of Saipan was the site of some of the fiercest fighting in the Pacific theater of World War II. The US invasion in mid-June surprised the Japanese, who had expected an attack farther south. After a month of brutal fighting, the US captured Saipan and made the island a base for air attacks on the Japanese mainland. About 22,000 Saipan civilians—the majority of the population—died during the battle. Why did many commit suicideMore… Discuss

 

The American empire: denial, delusion & deception


Published on Oct 16, 2012

A recent poll asked Americans if they felt America actually was an empire. Forty percent said “No.” Lawrence Vance alleges the U.S. is the largest empire in the history of the world, dwarfing the British, Ottoman, and Roman empires in size and scope. Prof. Jerry Kroth looks at the delusion and denial rampant within the American population on this issue, examining our 55 military interventions since World War II, our long and close relationship with dictators, juntas, and monarchs in building our empire, our military presence in over 130 countries of the world (70% of the planet) and what life might look like if we actually dismantled it. More athttp://collectivepsych.com/Home.html

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER WWII-ERA BOMB IN BERLIN


Another Day, Another WWII-Era Bomb in Berlin

The discovery of unexploded munitions from World War II remains relatively commonplace in Germany, but this does not mean such incidents are taken lightly. Old bombs can still be deadly, so great care is taken to safely and properly defuse and dispose of them. Commuters in Berlin were reminded of this fact earlier this week, after a 220-lb (100-kg) Soviet bomb was found near a set of train tracks leading to the city’s main rail station. Hundreds of people were evacuated from the area, rail and air traffic was diverted, and abomb disposal team was brought in to defuse the device—which it managed to do without incident. More… Discuss

 

Today’s Birthday: VERA MENCHIK (1906)


Vera Menchik (1906)

A Russian-born British international chess master, Menchik won seven consecutive Women’s World Chess Championships, beginning with the first one ever held and ending in 1939, when World War II halted the tournament. She and her family were killed in an air raid on London in 1944. When Menchik entered a men’s tournament in 1929, Viennese master Albert Becker ridiculed her by saying that anyone who lost to her should become a part of the “Vera Menchik Club.” Who was the first of its many members? More… Discuss

French Indochina


French Indochina
The region that is today home to Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam came under French control in the late 1800s as French Indochina. Though occupied by Japan during World War II, the area did not achieve full independence from France until 1954. Soon after independence, the Vietnam War erupted. After World War II, US President Franklin Roosevelt unsuccessfully attempted to arrange for China to acquire the region before France could regain control. What was Chairman Chiang Kai-shek‘s emphatic response? More… Discuss

This day in the Yesteryear: STEAMSHIP RMS QUEEN MARY IS LAUNCHED (1934)


 

Steamship RMS Queen Mary Is Launched (1934)

Construction on the Queen Mary ocean liner began in Scotland in 1930. In 1934, British King George V’s consort, Queen Mary, christened the ship in her own name. Operated by the Cunard Line, the glamorous luxury ship carried passengers between New York and England for decades—except during World War II, when it was painted grey and converted to carry troops. In the 1960s, air travel rendered transatlantic passenger ships obsolete, and the Queen Mary was retired. Where is it now? More… Discuss

 

Regina Spektor – On Growing Up A ‘Soviet Kid’ – “To me, the voice is an instrument, just like any other instrument,” Regina Spektor says.”


Regina Spektor - On Growing Up A 'Soviet Kid'

Regina Spektor – On Growing Up A ‘Soviet Kid’

“To me, the voice is an instrument, just like any other instrument,” Regina Spektor says.

August 27, 2012

Regina Spektor plays the piano so loudly, she has to convince piano tuners to adjust the instrument to her liking.

“It gets so loud that the strings reverberate in a certain way,” Spektor says. “And I always want them to work on the voicing and to soften the hammers, and they get kind of argumentative with me — they’re like, ‘You’re not supposed to play this loud.’”

Classically trained from age 6, Spektor knows what she’s doing, though.What We Saw From the Cheap Seats is her sixth solo record, which entered the Billboard charts at No. 3.

Spektor spent the first nine years of her life in the Soviet Union, where she and her family faced discrimination as Jews. “You couldn’t go to synagogue, but we did have little relics of religion passed down here and there,” Spektor tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. At Passover, her grandmother “would make chicken soup with matzo balls, but then we would have bread alongside that because we didn’t know you weren’t supposed to eat bread.”

When the country opened up under perestroika, Spektor left for New York with her parents, knowing no English and feeling like an outsider. For instance, she says she was surprised that her peers didn’t act like World War II had just happened. The 32-year-old says that, in Russia, she grew up in the long shadow of World War II, where everybody was affected by the war. When three of Spektor’s grandmother’s brothers were killed, her grandmother had to hide their death notices. She “would intercept them and sew them into the inside of her coat, because she thought her parents wouldn’t survive the war if they found out.”                               MORE

 

Laughing With Lyrics Regina Spektor

“Laughing With”, the opening single from Regina Spektor’s fifth album, Far, released on Regina’s MySpace on May 8, 2009, and is announced for an official release on May 18

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God
When they’re starving or freezing or so very poor

No one laughs at God when the doctor calls
After some routine tests
No one’s laughing at God
when it’s gotten real late
And their kid’s not back from that party yet

No one laughs at God when their airplane
Starts to uncontrollably shake
No one’s laughing at God
When they see the one they love hand in hand
with someone else and they hope that they’re mistaken
No one laughs at God when the cops knock on their door
And they say “We’ve got some bad new, sir,”
No one’s laughing at God
When there’s a famine, fire or flood

But God can be funny
At a cocktail party while listening to a good God-themed joke or
When the crazies say he hates us
and they get so red in the head
You think that they’re about to choke
God can be funny
When told he’ll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie
Who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus

God can be so hilarious
Ha ha, ha ha

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God
when they’ve lost all they got
And they don’t know what for

No one laughs at God on the day they realize
that the last sight they’ll ever see is a pair of hateful eyes
No one’s laughing at God
When they’re saying their goodbyes

But God can be funny
At a cocktail party while listening to a good God-themed joke or
When the crazies say he hates us and they get so red in the head
you think that they’re about to choke
God can be funny
When told he’ll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie
Who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus
God can be so hilarious

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
(repeat)
No one’s laughing at God in a hospital
No one’s laughing at God in a war

No one’s laughing at God
When they’re starving or freezing or so very poor

No one’s laughing at God
(repeat)
We’re all “laughing with God”

Today’s Birthday: HARRY S. TRUMAN (1884)


Harry S. Truman (1884)

In 1945, when US president Franklin D. Roosevelt died—just 82 days into his fourth term—Truman, his vice president, assumed the office. Presiding over the end of World War II and the transition to peacetime, he made unexpectedly bold decisions. He dropped the first atomic bombs on Japan, proposed the “Truman Doctrine” of Communist containment, authorized the Berlin Airlift, and initiated US involvement in the Korean War. For most of his second term, Truman did not live in the White House. Why? More… Discuss

Today’s Birthday: Wenceslaus III of Bohemia (1289)


Wenceslaus III of Bohemia (1289)

Wenceslaus III was king of Bohemia and of Hungary. Unable to assert his authority in Hungary, even with the help of his father, Wenceslaus II, he relinquished his claim to Duke Otto of Bavaria in 1305. He attempted to assert his hereditary claim to the Polish crown but was assassinated while marching to Poland. After an interregnum, John of Luxemburg, who married Wenceslaus’s sister, was elected king of Bohemia. Wenceslaus III was the last member of what dynasty? More… Discuss