Monday, September 27, 2010

August 14th in History

Sacred Treasures of Japan

Stone of Scone
1183   Taira no Munemori and the Taira clan take the young Emperor Antoku and the three sacred treasures and flee to western Japan to escape pursuit by the Minamoto clan. The three sacred treasures are a sword, a mirror, and a jade bead, far left.  The sword 'Kusanagi' has an equivalent mystic relationship to Japan, in a similar way that Excalibur held a special magical place in the Arthurian legend; it represents courage, and the power of force.  The mirror, Yata no Kagami, means wisdom and honesty; it represents the power of knowledge.In ancient Japan mirror were rare, and because they reflected perfectly what was shown in them were symbols of honesty and were revered.  The jade bead, or Magatama is specific in shape, a sphere with a curved tail. As part of the three sacred treasures it stands for benevolence.  The shape is similar to the figure that represents human spirit, the hitodama. But somewhat contradictorily, it represents the power of wealth. The word dama, or tama translates as soul.  In Japanese folklore, the 'tama' or spirit of the recently deceased take this form in flaming of fluorescent colors.  The images in Japanese art look to me more like giant luminous spermatozoa floating in the air.  The three sacred treasures have been intrinsic to the enthronement ceremony dating back to 690.  They are not available to the public, along with the emperor's seal and the state seal, but only accessible to the emperor and a few select priests. They are traditionally held to be from the sun-goddess Amaterasu founder of the imperial bloodline, and signify both the divinity of the bloodline and the legitimacy to rule.  The chronology of the Japanese treasures have a rough approximation to the Arthurian legends in the west, except that there is no extant Excalibur, Holy Grail, or Round Table.  The closest similar treasure might be the Stone of Scone, also called Jacob's Pillow Stone from the book of Genesis, which has been important to the crowning of the royalty of Scotland and England.

1842   The Second Seminole War ended, with the Seminoles forced from Florida to Oklahoma.  The Seminole Wars were in part the result of the Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819, between Spain and the United States.  The U.S. got Florida from Spain, in exchange for giving up claims in conflict with Spain's rights to Texas........until it joined the U.S. in 1845.

Oregon Territory boundaries,
Overlapping later state borders

1848   Oregon Territory is created by an act of Congress which makes it an organized and incorporated territory.  Being organized means that it has a foundational government by an act of Congress, and incorporated means that it has officially become a part of the United States, also by an act of Congress. It is the status preceding being accepted as a state. The borders had been decided in 1846 in an arrangement between the U.S. and Great Britain. The territory changed size and shape a few times between 1848 and 1859 when Oregon broke off from the territory becoming a full fledged state. The 1848 boundaries included Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and parts of Montana and Wyoming and Montana.

Reliquary of the Three Kings
Altar, Cologne Cathedral 

1880 – Construction of Cologne Cathedral, the most famous landmark in Cologne, Germany, is completed. It was begun in 1248.  The cathedral, a magnificent Gothic monument to Roman Catholicism, was intended to house the reliquary of the Three Kings, the Magi who visited the infant Jesus in Bethlehem bringing gold, frankincense and myrrh as gifts.  The burial site of the three kings was claimed to be discovered by Saint Helena who was coincidentally also the Empress of the Byzantine empire, at least until the Emperor divorced her to marry the new Empress, Theodora.  She found a variety of relics, including  the 'True Cross' on which Christ was crucified, and the nails for it, and built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on the site where they were discovered in Jerusalem. She also the Burning Bush of Sinai in Egypt, by which God indicated Moses was to lead the Israelites out of Jerusalem; for that she directed the Mount Saint Catherine monastery be built, near a bramble bush she believed was the same one in Exodus.  And she acquired a piece of the Holy Tunic as well, the seamless chiton worn by Christ before being crucified.  Helena had the wise men dug up and brought to Constantinople; from there they were brought to Milan by Bishop Eustorgius I in 344; then the Holy Roman Emperor, Friedrich Barbarossa, gave them to the Archbishop of Cologne in 1164.  The cathedral was built to house the relics.

antique French car circa 1893

1888   A recording of English composer Arthur Sullivan's The Lost Chord, one of the first recordings of music ever made, was played during a press conference introducing Thomas Edison's phonograph in London.

1893  France introduced motor vehicle registration.

1900   A joint European-Japanese-United States force (Eight-Nation Alliance) occupies Beijing, in a campaign to end the bloody Boxer Rebellion in China.

1901   The first claimed powered flight, by Gustave Whitehead in his Number 21; a significant advance over the Wright Brothers' glider.

1908   The first beauty contest is held in Folkestone, England.

1911   United States Senate leaders agree to rotate the office of President pro tempore of the Senate among leading candidates to fill the vacancy left by William P. Frye's death.

1912   United States Marines invade Nicaragua to support the U.S.-backed government installed there after José Santos Zelaya had resigned three years earlier.

1933   Loggers cause a forest fire in the Coast Range of Oregon, later known as the first forest fire of the Tillamook Burn. It is extinguished on September 5, after destroying 240,000 acres (970 km²).

1935   United States Social Security Act passes, creating a government pension system for the retired.

Rainey Bethea execution

1936   Rainey Bethea is hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky in the last public execution in the United States. Bethea was, no surprise, black.  Some of the interesting aspects of his crime and punishment include being one of the earlier uses of fingerprints for identification of the perpetrator of a crime; Bethea's fingerprints were found in the victim's bedroom. His identification was also made by a distinctive scar on the side of his head. Although the crimes for which Bethea was arrested were theft, robbery, rape and murder, initially he was only charged with rape. Bethea confessed, not once, but five times, providing details such as where he had hidden the stolen jewelry of the victim, which was found where he indicated. The method of execution for rape was hanging, in a local venue, while the method of execution for robbery or murder was death in the electric chair, which could only be carried out at the state penitentiary. The authorities wanted to keep the execution local, and public. While the nature of the crime, violent rape and murder, along with robbery, made this a notorious crime locally, it attracted national attention not because of being a crime by a black man against an elderly white woman, but because the sheriff had to conduct the execution - and the sheriff was a woman.  Florence Thompson's husband Everett had been elected sheriff in 1933, but had died earlier in 1936 of pneumonia.  Florence had taken over his position as county sheriff.  An estimated 20,000 people came to watch the hanging.  Due to drunkenness, the self-styled 'expert' in executions by hanging, who was supposed to help the lady Sheriff perform the execution, botched the job.  The actual 'trigger' to release the trap door resulting in hanging was the deputy, not the lady Sheriff.  The resulting antagonism of the press at having been disappointed in not seeing a woman Sheriff carry out the execution led to new laws being passed in 1938 banning public executions, and prior to the legislative changes going into effect, judges ordered hanging to be done privately, not publicly. The governor after signing the legislation, lamented that 'our streets are no longer safe'.

1945   Japan accepts the Allied terms of surrender in World War II and the Emperor records the Imperial Rescript on Surrender, ending the war in the Pacific Theater.

1947   Pakistan and India gain Independence from the British Indian Empire under the administration of United Kingdom and joins the British Commonwealth.

1967   UK Marine Broadcasting Offences Act declares participation in offshore pirate radio illegal.

1980   Lech Wałęsa leads strikes at the Gdańsk, Poland shipyards.

cult kids

1987    All the children held at Kia Lama, a rural property on Lake Eildon, Australia, run by the Santiniketan Park Association, are released after a police raid. Kia Lama was part of a cult preaching a strange mixture of Christianity and Hinduism that dosed their cult members with LSD and other psychotropic drugs.  Some of the core cult leaders claimed to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ.  The children were abused by starvation and other harsh punishment, and their real identities disguised by dying their hair blond and having them all wear the same haircut, and dress alike in an attempt to make it difficult to tell them apart. The children had been obtained by cult leaders as infants through a variety of improper and illegal means.  The cult leaders fled Australia, and were eventually captured by the FBI in the United States and extradited back to Australia.

1994   Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, the terrorist known as "Carlos the Jackal", is captured.

2003   Wide scale  cascading power blackout in the northeast United States and Canada, affecting some 55 million people in 8 states in New England, and the province of Ontario.  Eleven fatalities are attributed to the blackout.

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