Monday, September 27, 2010

August 11th in History


480 BC  Death of Leonidas, King of Sparta during the Battle of Thermopylae (b. c. 540 BC) in one of the most famous battles in western history.  Leonidas was the 17th King of the Agiad dynasty which claimed descent from the mythological Hercules, or more correctly, Heracles, who in turn claimed to be the son of Zeus, and great-grandson / half-brother to Perseus (who slew the Gorgon Medusa) - and for whom the August meteor showers are named.  The Perseids peak between August 9-14.  Thermopylae was a great battle of mythically related enemies and oracular prophecy.

At the earliest warning of invasion of the Persians, Leonidas consulted the Oracle at Delphi, who made the following prediction, in rhyming hexameter:

"Hear your fate, O dwellers in Sparta of the wide spaces;

Either your famed, great town must be sacked by Perseus' sons,
Or, if that be not, the whole land of Lacedaemon
Shall mourn the death of a king of the house of Heracles,
For not the strength of lions or of bulls shall hold him,
Strength against strength; for he has the power of Zeus,
And will not be checked till one of these two he has consumed.

897  Death of Wilfred the Hairy, Count of Barcelona, who is as obscure as Leonidas is prominent in history.  Wilfred changed feudal custom, making the feudal title hereditary, thereby weakening the authority of the Carolingian Emperors who had previously granted the position to unrelated individuals.  And he had one of the more unusual soubriquets in medieval history.

Hedy Lamarr

1942   Actress Hedy Lamarr and composer George Antheil receive a patent for a frequency hopping, spread spectrum communication system that later became the basis for modern technologies in wireless telephones and Wi-Fi.

1950   Births of Gennidy Nikonov, Russian weapons inventor (d. 2003)
           Steve Wozniak, American computer pioneer

King Hussein in 1952

1952   Hussein bin Talal proclaimed king of Jordan at the age of 16.  King Hussein, a descendant of the Hashemite dynasty, claims to be a direct descendant of the prophet Muhammed.  He was successful in establishing peace with neighboring Israel in 1994.

Convergence, 1952
by Jackson Pollack

1956   Death of Jackson Pollock, American abstract expressionist artist (b. 1912) 

an arrest

1965  Race riots began in Watts area of Los Angeles, California and continue for a week. The riots resulted in the deaths of 34, 2,032 injured, and the arrests of nearly 4,000 people.  It nominally started over a traffic arrest for drunk driving and having the car impounded.  The Watts riots held the dubious distinction of the worst riots in LA history until edged out by the 1992, which began over the traffic arrest and beating of Rodney King.  In addition to the police, there were over 100 fire brigades involved in putting out fires.  By the 4th day, nearly 14,000 national guard were called in to end the rioting.  By the end of the rioting an estimated $40 million dollars of damage had occurred, and nearly 1,000 buildings had been burned, or otherwise damaged, destroyed or looted.

1972   Vietnam War: the last United States ground combat unit departs South Vietnam.

1982   A bomb explodes on Pan Am Flight 830, en route from Tokyo to Honolulu, killing one teenager and injuring 15 passengers.  The bomb, exploded under a seat while the plane was flying at 036,000 feet, and while it was 140 miles out from reaching Hawaii.  Miraculously the plane was able to make it the rest of the way to Honolulu despite being damaged. The bombing was attributed to a splinter group of the PLO, the Palestinian Liberation Organization.   Jordanian Mohammed Rashid was arrested, tried and convicted, with a 15 year jail sentence.  Another alleged terrorist sought in this terrorist incident was Abu Ibrahim, who would now be around 73.

1988   Al-Qaeda is formed.

1992 The Mall of America, the biggest shopping mall in the country, opened in Bloomington, Minn.

1997 President Bill Clinton made the first use of the line-item veto approved by Congress, rejecting three items in spending and tax bills. (The Supreme Court later struck down the line-item veto as unconstitutional.)

1998 British Petroleum purchased Amoco for $49 billion.

Pat Buchanan,
Time Magazine cover

2000 Pat Buchanan won the Reform Party presidential nomination in a victory bitterly disputed by party founder Ross Perot's supporters, who chose their own nominee in a rival convention.

2003   NATO took over command of the peacekeeping force in Afghanistan, marking its first major operation outside Europe in its 54-year-history.
           Sunni Jemaah Islamiyah leader Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali, was arrested in Bangkok, Thailand.  He was in prison in Jordan, until
2006, on behalf of the CIA in one of the 'black sites'; after which he was moved to Guantonamo, along with an alleged associate, Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep.  Hambali's wife is held by Malaysian authorities.
           A heat wave in Paris results in temperatures rising to 112°F (44° C), leaving about 144 people dead.

No comments:

Post a Comment