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Nov 11, 2014 tues.
November 11th, 2014

Question: What nation begins its annual independence celebration at “ The Red Fort”?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: ISIS has been called an “existential threat” to the U.S. What is an existential threat?
History for 11/11/2014
Birthdays: Abigail Adams, Alexander Borodin, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Gen. George Patton, Pat O’Brien, Kurt Vonnegut, Rene Clair, Carlos Fuentes, Jonathan Winters, Stubby Kay, Demi Moore is 52, Leonard DiCaprio is 40

Today in the Middles Ages this was "Martinmass" the feast of St. Martin of Tours, patron saint of France.

Happy Veterans Day in the U.S., Memorial Day in many European countries.

1534- The Parliament voted the Act of Supremacy, confirming that the King of England would be henceforth the Supreme Head of the Church in England, and no longer beholding to the Catholic Church in Rome. They called it The Church of England.

1572- Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe noted that he observed a bright new star in the region of Cassiopea. It was brighter in the sky than Venus, but after 16 months it disappeared. Not until 2008 did scientists determine that what Tycho saw was a White Dwarf exploding into a Supernova.

1647- King Charles I had been defeated in the English Civil War and was held a prisoner at Hampton Court. On this day he gave his jailers the slip and escaped to the Isle of Wight to raise troops for what some historians call the Second English Civil War. His actions, not only of lying to escape but also of persuading a Scottish army to invade England on the promise to the Scots that he would forcibly convert England to Presbyterianism, as well as trying to raise a Catholic Army in Ireland, offended his few remaining friends. Oliver Cromwell concluded there was no use negotiating with a king who saw peace talks only as a delaying tactic. They must have the head of this 'Man of Blood"

1668- Mademoiselle Du Parc was an beautiful actress who dumped Moliere and his comic company to become the mistress of the tragic playwright Racine, causing Moliere and Racine’s friendship to break. Plus Racine didn’t like the way Moliere’s actors did his plays. Three years later this day Mlle. Du Parc died under mysterious circumstances. Racine gave up his wild ways, got married and had a big family. In 1679 a notorious poisoner Madame Monvoisin claimed that Racine hired her to off his girlfriend! Was the French Shakespeare a Bluebeard or was La Voisin paid to slander him? The authorities considered arresting him, but King Louis XIV quashed the investigation because it would implicate the King’s favorite, Madame de Montespan.

1673- Battle of Cochim - Polish Hetman Sobieski and his "Winged Hussars" defeat a Turkish invasion in the Ukraine. The heavily armored Hussar cavalry wore wooden wings decorated with feathers like something out of a Christmas pageant, but the effect on enemies was terrifying. The flutter and hiss they made during their attack made them seem like warrior angels.

1807- The British Admiralty announced that all neutral commercial ships passing through European waters must put in to an English port and pay tax or be subject to attack and seizure by the British Navy. Britain further reserved the right to stop ships to search for deserters from the British Navy. By 1812 and estimated four thousand American sailors had been taken off ships on the high seas and imprisoned or impressed into English service. Because America desired to remain neutral in the Napoleonic Wars this was one of the roots of her declaring war on England in 1812.

1831- Nat Turner, who led the last large slave uprising before the Civil War, was hanged in Jerusalem Virginia. He confessed but expressed no regrets.

1858-John Landis Mason invents the Mason Jar.

1865- Mary Edward Walker, Union army surgeon became the first woman awarded the Medal of Honor. It was taken away from her in 1885 and only restored recently.

1887- THE HAYMARKET EXECUTIONS- Four leaders of an early American labor movement The Knights of Labor are hanged after being charged with responsibility for a bomb tossed at police during a demonstration in Chicago. Samuel Fielden, Adolphe Fischer, August Spies and Albert Parsons. It was never proven they actually had thrown the bomb, aww but they were a bunch of reds anyway...A later Chicago mayor ruined his political career when he proved publicly that the Haymarket defendants were innocent. Albert Parsons shouted as he dropped through the trapdoor:" Oh men of America, Let the Voice of the People be Heard!" They were demanding unheard of concessions like a six day work week and an eight hour day down from twelve to fourteen. A monument was erected in Haymarket not to Parsons but to the police. Hippies blew it up in 1968.

1889- Washington State admitted into the union.

1914- Sultan Mehmed V of Turkey who was also the last Caliph, honoring his alliance with Germany in World War I, declared a Grand Jihad on the allies. He said it was the duty of all good Moslems to fight the Christians, unless of course they were Germans, Hungarians, Bulgarians or Austrians. Historians say the effect of his declaration of Holy War was met in the Moslem world with resounding indifference. About the only one who listened was the Khedive of Egypt, who was promptly replaced by the British.

1918- ARMISTICE DAY- World War I ended. The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month the guns of the Great War fall silent. It sounds poetic but it was just a coincidence, the opposing sides had been negotiating since the 8th. In many countries this is the traditional Memorial Day, the American one in May is in honor of our Civil War. In a strange kind of salute when the word went down the battlelines that the ceasefire would take effect at 11:00AM, one minute before, thousands of cannons on both sides fired one last round simultaneously.

World War I's final tally was 22 million dead, almost 20% of the young male population in the opposing countries. In only 7 months of actual fighting 200,000 American died – as opposed to 5,000 after a decade in Iraq. This also marks the turning point of the Old World into the Twentieth Century: ethnic republics arose out of dying monarchies. The British, German, and French colonial empires were fatally wounded. Independence desires stirred in 3rd world colonies and the United States became a major global power and world financier.

1918- TOMMY GUNS- Sitting on a New York wharf, forgotten and ignored, was the first shipment of Thompson submachine guns, built for a war just ended. John Thompson was an inventor who tried to solve the problem of close hand-to-hand fighting in trenches by inventing a light mobile machine gun that could be a “trench-broom” –spewing 800 bullets a minute. Because it fired small pistol bullets, it was called a “sub-machine gun”.
But the Great War was over and the U.S. Army wasn’t interested anymore, neither were most police departments. So in 1921 the Thompson Submachine Gun went on sale to the public as a “great home defense system”. The people who did buy them were the Mafia and the IRA. They nicknamed them Choppers, Chicago Typewriters and Tommy Guns. Al Capone invented the novelty of hiding one in a violin case. John Dillinger was very proud of his.
Old John Thompson was shocked that his creation was being used by violent hoodlums to make incidents like the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre possible. He died in 1940, just weeks before the US Army would order tens of thousands Tommy Guns to fight World War II.

1920- On the second anniversary of the Armistice, the British entomb an Unknown Soldier to represent all war dead “A Soldier Whose Name is Known Only to God”. The French do it and the Americans think this a neat idea so do their own at Arlington in 1932. Bavarian corporal Adolph Hitler called himself the Unknown soldier of Germany, Now because of DNA identification identities of war dead will no longer be unknown. In 1998 the identity of the Unknown of the Vietnam War was discovered and the remains moved upon request of his family.

1925- Louis “Sachmo” Armstrong did the first recordings of his band the Hot Five. These records lift him from a local talent in Chicago and New Orleans to international stardom.
According to close friends Sachmo was a lifelong marijuana smoker. He called Pot his “antidote to racism”. Gives new meaning to the song “Laughing Louie”.

1925- The Nazis formed a second para-military force to augment their stormtroopers called the Schutz-Staffel or SS. Its leader was a one time chicken farmer named Heinrich Himmler. Himmler was heavily into the occult. He built officer training centers in a castle made up to look like King Arthur's round table. He also encouraged Germans to conceive children in graveyards, so the unborn could absorb the spirits of dead German heroes. The SS published a list of suitable graveyards for assignations.

1926- Work began building Route 66, the first interstate highway built for automobiles in the U.S. It will get finished in 1932. The world's first road exclusively for automobiles was opened in 1921, the Avus in suburban Berlin, followed by the Via Fiore Imperiali in Rome (1927).

1932- The Girls Scouts first offered freshly baked cookies for sale. The proceeds went to purchase camping gear. In 1936, the Girls Scouts signed a contract with Keebler to bake and package the cookies.

1937- Animation production wrapped on Disney’s first feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

1938- GOD BLESS AMERICA- Irving Berlin's song God Bless America sung for the first time by chubby chanteuse Kate Smith. Berlin had written the song in 1918 for a show, but it didn’t fit in. So he threw it in a file cabinet and forgot about it. Twenty years later, he revived the song for the effort to combat the Depression. It became a huge hit.

1938- TYPHOID MARY- On this day 68 year old Mary Mallon died in an asylum. She was a carrier of the disease typhoid fever and, in 1910, while being a cook in a hotel resort she infected 1,000 people. Released from jail a few years later, she had promised not to resume her former profession. But soon she was in the kitchen again. She started the typhoid epidemic of 1915 and was arrested again. She herself never contracted the disease.

1938- The first day of shooting on the film 'The Wizard of Oz". Judy Garland met 125 little people hired to be the Munchkins. Judy's energy was fading under the heavy work schedule so L.B. Mayer ordered her put on Benzadrine (speed) every morning and Valium pills to sleep. June Alysson, another young MGM actress at the time said: "The studio nurse would give it to you and tell you it was vitamins." Judy Garland became a heavy drug addict and died of an overdose in 1969 at 47 years old.

1940- The Birth of the Jeep. The army introduces its first General Purpose vehicle-G.P. or Jeep, a name coinciding with a character in E.C. Segar's Popeye cartoons.

1940- Battle of Taranto (Italy) The RAF attacked the Mussolini’s fleet in port using torpedo planes. Convention wisdom of the time was plane-launched torpedoes wouldn't work in the shallow waters of a harbor. The British solved this by equipping their torpedoes with little fins that gave them greater buoyancy. Japanese Admiral Yamamoto said he wouldn't have attempted Pearl Harbor, if the British hadn't proved at Taranto that such torpedo runs were possible.

1941- On the night before mobster Abe Reles, alias Kid Twist, was due to testify what he knew of the Mafia, he was thrown out of a Coney Island hotel window to his death. He was under Federal protection. In 1962, Joe Valachi testified mobster Frank Costello had raised $100,000 to bribe NYPD cops to do the deed themselves. A popular toast around Brooklyn those days was: “ Here’s to Abe Reles, a canary who could sing but not fly.”

1954- Tolkein’s second book of the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, first published.

1966- Gemini XII spacecraft went up into orbit. It was the last flight of the Gemini program and the first spaceflight of Buzz Aldrin who would later be the second man to walk on the moon.

1978- The renovated Hollywood Sign is unveiled. The second O was paid for by rock star Alice Cooper in memory of his idol, Groucho Marx.

1980- 'Heaven's Gate" Michael Cimino's $44 million dollar flop opened. Cimino originally said he could do the film for $8 million. Critic Pauline Kael said: "It's the kind of movie you want to deface. You want to draw mustaches all over it."

1992- Premiere of Walt Disney’s Aladdin.
Yesterday’s Question: ISIS has been called an “existential threat” to the U.S. What is an existential threat?

Answer: A newer definition of the term “existential” has come into vogue lately to mean something that is theoretically possible but not likely. So a giant asteroid striking the Earth is an existential threat, but there is no sign of one presenting an immediate danger.