ON THIS DAY: April 12, 2019

April 12th is

Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality Monument Day *

D.E.A.R. Day *

Polio Vaccine Day *

Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day

International Day for Street Children *

International Day of Human Space Flight *

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MORE! Zawgyi, Beverly Cleary and Yuri Gagarin, click

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WORLD FESTIVALS AND NATIONAL HOLIDAYS

Bolivia – Children’s Day

Russia – Cosmonautics Day
(Gagarin’s first flight anniversary)

Liberia – Redemption Day
(1980 Samuel Doe-led coup d’état)

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On This Day in HISTORY

1065 – Hundreds of pilgrims led by Bishop Gunther of Bamberg, who had left their homes in 1064, and after traveling almost 2,500 miles, finally reach Jerusalem

1204 – During the Fourth Crusade, Venetian ships bring crusaders close enough to the walls of Constantinople to knock holes in it and mount scaling ladders; the crusaders start fires that burn much of the city, and loot the rest for the next three days, destroying or stealing many Greco-Roman and Byzantine works of art, and burning most of the Imperial Library of Constantinople, the last great library of the ancient world, housing 100,000 ancient Greek and Roman texts since its founding in the 4th century



1545 – After French King François I revokes his pardon of the Protestants of Vaudois for the “Affair of the Placards” in January, he now sends 2,000 men into the Mérindol area in Provence to kill them; 3,000 men, women and children are butchered and 600 men sent to the galleys; crops and cattle are destroyed, leaving the survivors to starve

1550 – Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, born, English poet and patron of the Oxford’s Men acting company, and no, he was NOT the author of Shakespeare’s works



1591 – Moroccan Invasion of the Songhai Empire, Battle of Tondibi: The Songhai Empire had been the dominant power in Western Africa for over a century, but the death of Askia Daoud in 1583 caused a struggle over the sucession, leaving the empire in a vulnerable state, just when the Saadi Dynasty of Morroco was reaching the height of its power. Sultan Ahmad I al-Mansur Saadi swept aside the warnings of his advisors that it was illegal to wage war against another Muslim nation, and sent a force led by Judar Pasha, many armed with arquebuses, and accompanied by six cannons, across the Sahara Desert to Songhai. They pillaged and plundered until they met the much larger Songhai army commanded by ruler Askia Ishaq II. Though a much larger army, the Songhai were defeated because of the gunpowder weapons of the Moroccans. An attempt by the Songhai to stampede cattle toward the other army backfired when the noise of the gunfire and cannons turned the stampeding cattle back on the Songhai lines. The Moroccans slaughtered many of the Songhai troops, and swept on to Gao, capital of the Songhai Empire, then continued on to loot Timbuktu and Djenné. This ended the Songhai Empire, but the Moroccans were never able to gain full control of the territory because of the difficulties of communication and resupply across the Saharan trade routes, and the empire broke up into dozens of smaller kingdoms

1606 – The ‘Union Jack’ flag is adopted for English and  Scottish ships; design based on crosses of Scotland, Ireland and England’s patron saints: Andrew, Patrick and George



1648 – The Academia Gelro-Zutphanica, the University of Harderwijk, is founded; its low tuition rates make it the only university available to poor students in the United Provinces (now the Netherlands), but its less-than-stellar reputation undermines the value of degrees obtained there; it closes in 1811 during the French occupation

1716 – Felice de’ Giardini born, Italian compose and violinist

1777 – Henry Clay born, U.S. President John Quincy Adams’ Secretary of State; served as both Representative and Senator for Kentucky, one of the Senate’s three great 19th century orators, along with Daniel Webster of Massachusetts and John C. Calhoun of South Carolina; the “Great Compromiser” was a major player in Missouri Compromise (1820), Tariff Compromise (1833), and the Compromise of 1850



1820 – Alexander Ypsilantis becomes leader of Filiki Eteria, the secret organization that will coordinate the Greek War of Independence attempting to overthrow Ottoman rule

1831 – Grenville Dodge born, American engineer; Union Pacific Railroad’s chief engineer (1866-70)

1853 – Sir James Mackenzie born, Scottish cardiologist; pioneer in cardiac arrhythmia

1861 – The U.S Civil War begins when Confederate forces fire on Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charlestown, South Carolina

1883 – Imogen Cunningham born, American photographer; famous for botanical photos, nudes and industrial landscapes

Photo by Judy Dater of Imogen Cunnimgham and model Twinka Thiebaud

1898 – Lily Pons born in France, American coloratura soprano

1903 – Jan Tinbergen born, Dutch economist; works on econometric models; awarded the 1969 Nobel Prize for Economics

1907 – Zawgyi born, leading Burmese poet, author, playwright and literary historian. With Theippan Maung Wa, Nwe Soe and Min Thu Wun, he was a leader of the Hkit san (Testing the Times) literary movement in Burma, which searched for new style and content in the years before the WWII. Best remembered for his play Maha hsan gyinthu, an adaptation of Molière’s Le bourgeois gentilhomme, and the poem Beida lan (The Hyacinth’s Way)



1908 – Ida Pollock born, English author of short stories and romance novels, and painter in oils, who was selected for inclusion in a national exhibition in 2004; in a 90 year writing career under ten pseudonyms, she sold millions of books; she was still writing up to the last year of her life, and lived to be 105 years old



1910 – Irma Rapuzzi born, French politician; the daughter of a miner, she entered politics in 1947 as a municipal councilor in Marseille, then was elected Senator of Bouches-du- Rhône (1955-1989), and served on the Finance Committee (1957-1971) and the Law Commission (1977-1980); she lived to be 107 years old

1913 – Keiko Fukuda born in Japan, Japanese-American pioneering martial artist, the highest-ranking female judoka in Judo history, and the last surviving student of Kanō Jigorō, the founder of Judo

1916 – Beverly Cleary born, American author, 1981 National Book Award for Children’s Books, for Ramona and Her Mother, and 3-time ALA Newbery Medal winner



1925 – Evelyn Berezin born, American computer designer; noted for designing the first computer-driven word processor, the first computer-controlled system for airline reservations, the first computerized banking system, and a system for range calculations for the U.S Army



1927 – Chiang Kai-shek orders the execution of Communist Party of China members in Shanghai, ending the First United Front, a Kuomintang-CPC alliance which had formed the National Revolutionary Army, setting off a civil war between the two factions

1927 – The British Parliament comes out in favor of women’s voting rights

1929 – Mukhran Machavariani born in Soviet Georgia, Georgian poet, member of the Supreme Council (Parliament) of the Republic of Georgia (1990-1992); Chair of the Union of Georgian Writers (1988-1990); honored with the Shota Rustaveli State Prize of Georgia. He died at age 81 during a recitation onstage on the Rustaveli National Theatre in Tbilisi



1933 – Montserrat Caballé born, Spanish bel canto soprano; her “Barcelona” duet with Queen’s Freddie Mercury later becomes the theme song of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics


Montserrat Caballé with Freddie Mercury

1937 –Dennis Banks born, American Ojibwe Native American rights activist, teacher and author; co-founder and longtime leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM); participant in the 1969-1971 occupation of Alcatraz Island, and was one of the organizers AIM’s 1972 “Trail of Broken Treaties” caravan across the U.S. to Washington DC

1942 – Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma born, South African politician; joined the African National Congress (ANC) at age 17, then became an active member of its military wing, uMkhonto weSizwe  (MK – Spear of the Nation) after the ANC was formally banned by the Apartheid regime in 1961. In 1962, he was convicted of conspiring to overthrow the government, and spent ten years imprisoned on Robben Island. After his release, he organised and mobilised the ANC underground structures in Natal province. He went into exile in 1975. In 1987, he moved to Lusaka, Zambia, and served as the Head of Underground Structures, and then as Chief of Intelligence for the ANC-in-exile. Zuma was among the first ANC leaders to return from exile after the unbanning of the ANC in 1990. In 1994, he was appointed as the Minister for Economic Affairs and Tourism in the KwaZulu – Natal. He was elected President of the ANC (2007-2017), and as President of the Republic of South Africa (2009-2018), but faced charges of corruption and fraud, and resigned under pressure

1943 – Sumitra Mahajan born, Indian Bharatiya Janata Party politician; Speaker of the Lok Sabha (lower house of India’s Parliament) since 2014; Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha, for Indore since 1989; first Indian woman to represent the same Lok Sabha constituency on the same party ticket eight times in a row



1944 – Lisa Jardine born, British historian; studied both Mathematics and English at university; fluent in eight languages including Ancient Greek and Latin, and wrote on everything from Shakespeare and Francis Bacon to feminist theory and the history of science; Professor of Renaissance Studies at University College, London (1990-2011), also Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in the Humanities and Director of the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters; Fellow of the Royal Historical Society; Fellow and Honorary Fellow of King’s College and Jesus College, Cambridge; President of the Antiquarian Horological Society; publications include Francis Bacon: Discovery and the Art of Discourse and Still Harping on Daughters: Women and Drama in the Age of Shakespeare; her book Going Dutch: How England Plundered Holland’s Glory, about how Dutch thinkers and scientists influenced England’s intellectual landscape in the 17th century, won 2009 Cundill International Prize in History



1950 –Joyce Banda born, Malawian politician and grassroots women’s rights activist; Minister of Foreign Affairs (2006-2009); first woman Vice-President of Malawi (2009-2012) founder and leader of the People’s Party in 2011; first female President of Malawi (2012-2014), taking over after the sudden death of President Bingu wa Mutharika; she was succeeded by his younger brother Peter Mutharika



1954 – Bill Haley and the Comets record “Rock Around the Clock” – it debuts in 1955’s movie Blackboard Jungle

1955 –  Polio Vaccine Day * – The announcement is made that the Salk polio vaccine clinical trials are successfully completed, and the vaccine is safe and effective; over the next two years, polio cases drop by over 85%

1957 – Tama Janowitz born, American novelist and short story writer; noted for Slaves of New York, a short story collection, and Scream: A Memoir of Glamour and Dysfunction

1961 – Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man to fly in space, orbiting the Earth before making a safe landing (see also 2011 entry)



1963 – Lydia Cacho born, Mexican investigative journalist, feminist and human rights activist; her 2004 book, Los Demonios del Edén (The Demons of Eden), alleging that prominent businessmen in Puebla conspired to protect a pedophilia ring, caused a national scandal. After publication, she was arrested in Cancun by Puebla police and driven back to Puebla, 900 miles away, verbally abused and threatened with rape en route, but later released on bail; in 2006, a tape came to light of telephone conversations from shortly before her arrest between the governor of Puebla, Mario Marin, and businessman Kamel Borge about having Cacho beaten and raped to silence her. She took the case of her arrest all the way to the Supreme Court of Mexico, the first woman to testify before the court, but the justices ruled 6-4 in 2007 that there was no case for Governor Marin to answer. In 2008, she was almost killed a few days before the trial of the central figure in the pedophile ring, Jean Succar Kuri, when the lugnuts on one of her car’s wheels were loosened. Kuri was convicted, and sentenced to 112 years in prison. Cacho also reported in 2006 on hundreds of women missing or murdered in Ciudad Juarez. She is the winner of the Civil Courage Prize, the Wallenberg Medal, and the Olof Palme Prize, and named a 2010 World Press Freedom Hero by the International Press Institute



1972 – Vietnam War: the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) begins its major Easter Offensive with an attack on Kontum in central South Vietnam, trying to cut South Vietnam in two and destroy as many units of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) as possible

1981 – Beverly Cleary’s book, Ramona Quimby, Age 8, the first mention is made of  D.E.A.R. day * (Drop Everything And Read)



1981 – NASA’s space shuttle Columbia blasts off on its first test flight

1983 – Harold Washington is elected Chicago’s first African-American mayor

1989 – Garth Brooks’ self-titled debut album is released

1990 – The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History opens Jim Gary’s “20th Century Dinosaurs” exhibition; the museum’s first solo exhibit of work by a sculptor

2011 – The UN General assembly declares April 12 as the International Day of Human Space Flight * to celebrate 1st human space flight, by Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin
(see also 1961 entry)

2011 – The Consortium for Street Children (CSC), an international network of over 80 member groups in 130 countries, launches International Day for Street Children, *  focusing on advocacy, research, shared learning and capacity building



2016 – Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality Monument Day * – the National Woman’s Party (NWP), founded by Alice Paul, bought the Sewall House in 1929 as their Washington DC headquarters, renaming it the Alva Belmont House in honor of the NWP former president – on this day, U.S. President Barack Obama designates the establishment of the house as the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, a unit of the National Park System


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About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for the past 45 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband and a bewildered Border Collie.
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