ON THIS DAY: May 31, 2019

May 31st is

Save Your Hearing Day

National Macaroon Day

Necrotizing Fasciitis Awareness Day*

Speak in Complete Sentences Day

World No-Tobacco Day *

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MORE! Samuel Pepys, Chien-Shiung Wu and Dr George Tiller, click

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WORLD FESTIVALS AND NATIONAL HOLIDAYS

Brunei –
Royal Brunei Armed Forces Day

Malaysia and Sarawak –
Gawai Dayak (Dayak Day)

Malta – Attard: Earth Garden Festival

Peru – Lima: Lima Film Festival
(through June 6th)

Spain – Castilla-La Mancha:
Día de la Región de Castilla-La Mancha

United Kingdom – Cheltenham:
Wychwood Festival

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On This Day in HISTORY

1279 BC – Rameses II (‘the Great’) becomes Pharaoh of Egypt



455 – After a reign of only 75 days, Western Roman Emperor Petronius Maximus, who was strongly implicated in the murder of his predecessor, Valentinian III, manages to anger just about everybody, especially Valentinian’s widow, Licinia Eudoxia, by forcing to her to marry him under threat of execution, and then canceling her daughter Eudocia’s wedding to the son of Vandal King Genseric. He makes Eudocia marry his own son instead, which infuriates the Vandals and Eudocia. When word arrives that the Vandals are on their way to Rome, Petronius panics along with the rest of the city, and decides to flee; his bodyguard and retinue abandon him, and he is stoned to death by a mob, his body mutilated and thrown into the Tiber River. Genseric and his Vandals arrive three days later, and sack Rome for the next two weeks; Eudocia later marries Genseric’s son Huneric, her original bethrothed

1223 – Mongol Invasions, Battle of Kalka River (now in Ukraine):  The armies of the Mongol Empire, led by Noyans (general) Jebe and Subutai the Valiant win a decisive victory over a coalition of Rus principalities: Kiev, Galicia-Volhynia, Chernigov, and Smolensk Cumans, jointly led by Mstislav the Bold of Galich and Mstislav III of Kiev. Mstislav of Kiev and his men were slaughtered, but Mstislav the Bold escaped


Mongol Horse Archers

1443 – Margaret Beaufort born, English Countess of Richmond and Derby, mother of Henry VII, and influential matriarch of the House of Tudor; founder of St. John’s and Christ’s colleges at Cambridge; Lady Margaret Hall, the first Oxford college to admit women, was named for her



1577 – Nur Jahan born Mehr-un-Nissa, 20th and last wife of Mughal Emperor Jahangir; she was married at 17 to Sher Afgan, governor of Mughal province of Bihar; legend says Prince Salim first met and fell in love with her while she was married to Sher Afgan. Two years after Prince Salim became Emperor Jahangir in 1605, Nur Jahan became a widow, but she grieved for her husband for three years before consenting to marry Jahangir in 1611. She was a 34 year old bride. After their wedding, she quickly became the most powerful and influential woman at court; Nur Jahan was a strong, charismatic and well-educated woman, and most historians consider her the power behind the throne. Her husband She was granted honors and privileges not given to any other Mughal empress, including being the only empress to have coinage struck in her name, and the only woman to be put in charge of the imperial seal. She was Jahangir’s most trusted advisor, and he conferred the title Nur Jahan (Light of the World) upon her. She was the aunt of the future Mumtaz Mahal (Jewel of the Palace), the beloved wife for whom Emperor Shah Jahan would build the Taj Majal, one of the most famous buildings in the world



1578 – Henry III of France lays the first stone of Le Pont-Neuf (The New Bridge), now the oldest bridge in Paris


Le Pont-Neuf – 1615 Map of Paris detail

1669 – Citing poor eyesight, Samuel Pepys records the last event in his diary in his hand



1683 – Jean-Pierre Christin born, French physicist, mathematician, and astronomer, invented the Celsius thermometer



1790 – The United States enacts its first copyright statute, the Copyright Act of 1790

1795 – The Revolutionary Tribunal was originally instituted by the National Convention  during the French Revolution for the trial of political offenders is suppressed. It had quickly spun out of control and condemned thousands, many innocent, to the guillotine or the firing squad

1819 – Walt Whitman born, influential 19th century American poet, ‘father of free verse.’ Best known for Leaves of Grass



1824 – Jessie Benton Frémont born, American author and activist, outspoken opponent of slavery, known for her writings about her life with her husband, John C. Frémont, in California and Arizona



1827 – Kusumoto Ine born, Japanese physician, first woman doctor of Western Medicine in Japan; her father was the German physician Philipp Franz von Siebold. Following in his footsteps, her growing reputation won her the patronage of the feudal lord Date Munenari, Lord of Uwajima (1844-1858). She became a medical attendant for his women’s quarters. She studied obstetrics in Nagasaki with Antonius Bauduin, earning her midwife’s license in 1884, and attended the birth of the child of Emperor Meiji’s concubine Hamuro Mitsuko. She retired from practice in 1895, and died from food poisoning in 1903



1852 – Julius Richard Petri born, German microbiologist, inventor of the Petri dish

1854 – Mary Hannah Fulton born, American physician and medical missionary to China, established the Hackett Medical College for Women in Guangzhou, China


Guangzhou China 1860s

1859 – The Great Clock of the Palace of Westminster, with its famous bell Big Ben starts keeping time. The Palace of Westminster is home to the British Houses of Parliament



1860 – Walter Sickert born in Germany, English painter and printmaker


Self-Portrait by William Sickert, circa 1920s

1862 – Cynthia W. Alden born, American author and journalist, worked for the New York Tribune and the Ladies Home Journal, founder of the Sunshine Society, a group which sent cards and letters to shut-ins, then expanded their mission to establish a sanatorium and a school for blind children, and advocated for legislation to provide care for blind children in 18 states



1874 – The original Madison Square Garden opens; it is demolished in 1890, and replaced with a much more elaborate structure, designed by noted architect Stanford White, on the same site, which in turn is demolished in 1926 to make way for the New York Life Building. The third version of Madison Square Garden is built on a new site which is not on Madison Square; there are sight line and ventilation problems, and demolition begins in 1968. The current Madison Square Garden sits atop Pennsylvania Station, opening on February 11, 1968


Madison Square Garden, circa 1879

1875 – Rosa May Billinghurst born, British suffragette and women’s rights activist; she survived polio as a child, but had to wear leg irons and use crutches to walk. She became know is the “cripple suffragette” because she campaigned on a modified tricycle.  As a young woman, she was active in social work at a Greenwich workhouse, taught Sunday School, and joined the temperance group, Band of Hope. In 1907, she became a member of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). Despite her disability she took part in the WSPU’s march to the Royal Albert Hall in June 1908. Billinghurst helped organise the WSPU’s response in the Haggerston by-election in July 1908. In 1910, she founded the Greenwich branch of the WSPU. As its first secretary she took part in the ‘Black Friday’ demonstrations, using her tricycle. She was arrested after  the police had capsized her from the trike. Billinghurst knew that she was helpless when this happened but she was quite prepared to take the added publicity to benefit the suffrage cause, but the police also exploited her disability, leaving her in a side street after letting her tyres down and pocketing the valves. Billinghurst would place her crutches on both sides of her tricycle and would charge any opposition. She was arrested several more times in the next few years. The Glaswegian suffragette, Janie Allan, apparently worked in partnership with Billinghurst during the window-smashing campaign of March 1912, with Billinghurst apparently hiding a supply of stones under the rug that covered her knees. Her first stint in Holloway Prison was for smashing a window on Henrietta Street during this campaign, for which she was sentenced to one month’s hard labour. The prison authorities were confused when she was sentenced to one month hard labour and gave her no extra work. On 8 January 1913, she was tried at the Old Bailey and sentenced to eight months in Holloway Prison for damaging letters in a postbox. She subsequently went on hunger strike, and was force-fed along with other suffragettes, but  became so ill that she was released two weeks later. She spoke at a public meeting in West Hampstead in March 1913. On 24 May she chained herself to the gates of Buckingham Palace and on 14 June she was dressed in white on her trike in Emily Wilding Davison’s funeral procession after she became a martyr to the cause. She took part in the mass deputation of suffragettes to petition King George V on 21 May 1914. Though she was not arrested, two policemen deliberately tipped her out of her tricycle, and another suffragette, Charlotte Drake, had to lift her back into it. Billinghurst stopped her activity for women’s suffrage after the Qualification of Women Act 1918 gave some women the vote. She later attended Emmeline Pankhurst’s funeral and the unveiling of Emmeline’s statue in 1930. She died in 1953, leaving her body to science



1884 – Dr. John Harvey Kellogg applies for a patent for “flaked cereal” – his brother W.K. Kellogg founds the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company in 1906, which will become the Kellogg Company

1890 – Hilla Rebay born as Baroness Hildegard Anna Augusta Elisabeth Rebay von Ehrenwiesen; German-American abstract artist, co-founder and director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum


Portrait of Solomon R Guggenheim by Hilla Rebay – 1928

1901 – Alfredo Antonini born in Italy; Italian-American conductor and composer

1902 – The Treaty of Vereeniging is signed, ending the Second Boer War between the British Empire, and the Boers of the South African Republic and the Orange Free State

1910 – The Union of South Africa becomes independent from Great Britain, and Natal becomes one of its provinces

1912 – Chien-Shiung Wu born in China, American experimental physicist; worked on the Manhattan Project, where she contributed to the development of the process for separating uranium metal into uranium-235 and uranium-238 isotopes by gaseous diffusion; the ‘Wu Experiment’ provided the practical confirmation needed by her colleagues Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen-Ning Yang to contradict the hypothetical law of conservation of parity, and won Lee and Yang the 1957 Nobel Prize in physics, but her contributions were overlooked; first woman instructor at Princeton University’s Physics Department



1913 – U.S. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan certifies the ratification of the 17thAmendment to the Constitution, which alters the process of electing U.S. Senators to direct election (“one person, one vote”), and changes how vacancies will be filled from appointment by state legislatures, to temporary appointments, which can be made by a state governor if granted by the state’s legislature, until a special election can be called

1917 – “Darktown Strutters’ Ball” is released by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band

1924 – Patricia Harris born, American politician and ambassador; first African-American woman to serve in U.S. presidential cabinet as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and also the first to serve as a U.S. Ambassador (to Luxembourg)



1928 – Two Australian pilots, Charles Kingsford-Smith and Charles Ulm, and two Americans, navigator Harry Lyon and radio operator James Warner, take off in their Fokker F.VIIb/3m, the Southern Cross, from Oakland CA for an aerial crossing of the Pacific Ocean to Brisbane, Australia

1941 – Dame June Clark born, community nursing expert and advocate; president of the Royal College of Nursing (1990-1994); consultant to the International Council of Nurses on a project to develop an International Classification of Nursing Practice (ICNP), as well as consulting for WHO, and representing the UK on ICN and European Union  committees. Following the break-up of the Soviet Union, she helped develop nursing leadership in Kazakhstan and Romania. She was also a visiting professor at the  University of Promorska, Slovenia. Clark often speaks at international conferences



1946 – Krista Kilvet born, Estonian radio journalist at Eesti Radio, politician, and a leader of the restored Women’s Union, Estonia’s women’s movment; elected to the Riigikogu (Estonian Parliament – 1992-1998); appointed in 2008 as the Estonian ambassador to Norway and Iceland, but was unable to assume the office because of kidney disease; died in January 2009



1947 – Communists seize power in Hungary

1948 – Svetlana Alexievich born, Belarusian investigative journalist and non-fiction writer in Russian about 20th century history; in 2015, became the first writer from Belarus to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature; her books Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices from a Forgotten War and Chernobyl Prayer/Voices from Chernobyl have been translated into English



1953 – Linda Riordan born, English Labour Co-operative politican; Member of Parliament for Halifax (2005-2015)



1955 – After the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954, many all-white schools remained segregated, so the court in Brown v. Board of Education II orders the states to make plans to integrate their schools “with all deliberate speed” and gives federal district courts the power to supervise the process of desegregation and assure that progress is made, and to punish schools that refuse to integrate; the vagueness of “all deliberate speed” was used as an excuse in many school districts for doing nothing to integrate their schools

1955 – Susie Essman born, American stand-up comic, writer, and television producer; best known for Curb Your Enthusiasm and the voice of Mittens in Bolt. She is an occasional correspondent on The Daily Show, and a pescatarian. Her book, What Would Susie Say: Bullshit Wisdom About Love, Life and Comedy, was published in 2008



1955 – Lynne Truss born, English author, journalist, dramatist and radio broadcaster; best known for her 2003 book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation



1956 – Buddy Holly writes “That’ll Be the Day”

1962 – Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi SS officer who organized Adolf Hitler’s “final solution of the Jewish question,” is executed for his crimes against humanity near Tel Aviv, Israel. His last words before he was hanged: “I hope that all of you will follow me.”

1974 – The Separation of Forces Agreement Between Israel and Syria is signed by senior military officers of both sides in Geneva, Switzerland, creating a buffer zone on the Golan Heights separating Israeli and Syrian forces



1977 – The last weld on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) is completed; it covers 800 miles and cost $8 billion to build, and requires 70,000 workers overall

1979 – The restored Radio City Music Hall re-opens

1979 – Zimbabwe declares its independence

1980 – The theme from M*A*S*H (“Suicide is Painless”) is #1 on the UK singles chart, 10 years after it was first written, when BBC Radio-One DJ Noel Edmonds champions it



1990 – The sitcom Seinfeld debuts on NBC-TV

1991 – Angola’s two warring factions sign a peace treaty, ending a 16-year civil war

1994 – The U.S. announces it is no longer aiming long-range nuclear missiles at targets in the former Soviet Union

1994 – The death-toll in the Rwanda Genocide is reported to have reached at least 500,000, as the fighting between the Tutsi and the Hutu continues. The vast majority of the dead are Tutsi. By the middle of July, 1994, an estimated 70% of the Tutsi population will have been massacred and over 300,000 women raped

1995 – Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, on the Presidential campaign trail, singles out Time Warner for “the marketing of evil” – the work of rap artists in movies and music – but later admitted that he had not seen or heard much of what he had been criticizing, and he keeps $21,000 in political contributions made to him by Time Warner, from profits he characterized as Rap “Blood Money”

2005 – Former FBI official W. Mark Felt reveals himself in Vanity Fair as “Deep Throat,” the secret Washington Post source who helped bring down President Richard M. Nixon during the Watergate scandal



2008 – World No-Tobacco Day * is part of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Tobacco Free Initiative



2009 – Dr. George Tiller, a provider of late-term abortions, is shot and killed while attending services at his church in Wichita, Kansas; the anti-abortion terrorist who  killed him is convicted and sentenced to life in prison



2013 – The asteroid 1998 QE2 and its moon make their closest approach to Earth for the next two centuries

2017 – Necrotizing Fasciitis Awareness Day * is launched; NF (flesh-eating disease) is a rare bacterial infection with sudden onset and that spreads rapidly, attacking the soft tissues of the skin. It kills one in four people infected. Symptoms include red or purple skin in the affected area, severe pain, fever, and vomiting

2018 – The Danish Parliament passed a law that “anyone who wears a garment that hides the face in public will be punished with a fine.” While not specifically singling out Muslim women, it effectively bans them from wearing traditional clothing that hides the face, such as a niqab or burqa. The penalty is 1,000 kroner ($157) but it rises 10 times higher for repeat offenders. When the law took effect August 1, hundreds of protesters gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital. Amnesty International calls the policy a “discriminatory violation of women’s rights.” The European Court of Human Rights upheld a Belgian ban on full-face veils in 2017. France adopted Europe’s first burqa ban in 2011


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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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