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Events, deaths, births, of 15 DEC

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On a December 15:
2002 Election to the 182-seat state assembly of Gujarat, India. The anti-Muslim Hindu fundamentalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which also leads the national coalition government, wins 126 seats, the Congress Party 51. Gujarat, whose population is 55 million, has 5 million Muslims.
2002 The United Nations High Commission for Refugees distributes clothes and footwear in makeshift shelter and tent camps along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to refugees from the four-year drought in Afghanistan, more than from the past fighting. Among the nearly 100'000 persons living in four camps at Spin Boldak, Afghanistan, 41 children have died in the first two weeks of December 2002, from the cold aggravating their malaria, tuberculosis, and, mostly, pneumonia, according to press reports. Winter temperatures in the area often fall to –10ºC. Afghanistan has an estimated 700'000 internal refugees.
2001 European Union plans reform discussions.
      The 15 European Union leaders endorse a plan aimed at making the EU more manageable and democratic after a dozen new nations join it in the years ahead. They name former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing to lead a debate to solidify reform proposals that will be put to a vote in 2004. The discussions will include more than 100 representatives of governments, the European Parliament, national legislatures and the 12 nations due to join the EU as it expands eastward.
      Central to the debate — which starts on 01 March 2001 and is expected to last well into 2003 — is whether the EU should have strong federal powers or if it should be an economic club with a limited political agenda. In a declaration on this the final day of their summit, the leaders pledge to seek a common ground between those two positions and pursue reform of cumbersome decision-making rules they said must be revamped soon.
      The EU rules date back to the 1950s, when there were six members. An EU with nearly 30 members is bound to be beset by bureaucratic gridlock unless there is an overhaul. The leaders draft a declaration saying that 10 nations — Slovenia, Hungary, Estonia, Malta, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Latvia and Lithuania - should be able to join on 01 January 2004 after parliamentary approval.
      Officials were also set to declare the Union's planned rapid-reaction corps operational, giving themselves a military arm for peacekeeping and humanitarian operations. The EU eventually wants to be able to field a force of up to 60'000 soldiers, and specific military units in EU nations have been designated to take part. NATO would make available planning, communications, intelligence and transport facilities.
      In a Future Of The European Union declaration, the leaders praise European integration and the peace and prosperity it has brought, but stress that reforms are e imperative. In the past decade, EU governments have consistently failed to agree on durable reforms amid reservations — especially in Britain, France, Denmark and Sweden — about giving the EU more decision-making powers at the expense of national governments.
      The declaration suggests several ways that the EU could be made more effective:
— More majority voting to accelerate decision-making. Unanimity is still the rule in many areas.
— Endowing the EU with a constitution and a bill of rights. France and Germany back that, but not Britain, Denmark or Sweden.
— More power for the EU executive Commission and the European Parliament, which now have only a limited say in many key areas.
      On the first day of the summit, the previous day, the leaders urged Israel to resume contacts with Yasser Arafat and his Palestinian Authority, saying he was the legitimate representative of the Palestinians. They also said Arafat must dismantle "the terrorist networks" of the Islamic militant groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. EU nations also promised to send peacekeepers to Afghanistan as part of the British-led international force to provide security in Kabul as the new interim Afghan government takes power.
What the European Union is.
2001 The Leaning Tower of Pisa reopens to visitors (no more than 30 at a time), after being closed since 1990, while its tilt was being reduced from 4.50 meters to 4.09 meters.
2000 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant shut down for good
      Operators shut down the Chernobyl nuclear power plant with the flip of a switch, closing the facility for good 14 years after it spawned the world's worst nuclear accident. The simple procedure ended the long, troubled run of a facility that became a synonym for nuclear fears and the dangers of atomic power. Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma gave the shutdown order from Kiev over a video linkup with the plant, located some 135 km away. “To fulfill the state decision and Ukraine's international obligations, I hereby order to start work for the premature stoppage of the operation of reactor No. 3 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant," Kuchma said.
      At 13:16, Chernobyl shift chief Oleksandr Yelchishchev turned the black AZ switch, activating the automatic safety system of the plant's only working reactor and sending containment rods sliding into the reactor core. Within seconds, a dial showed the reactor's output dropping to zero. The procedure went flawlessly, the plant reported. The shutdown, which followed years of intense international pressure, should erase the danger of future accidents at the plant. Yet Ukraine will suffer the effects of the 1986 Chernobyl accident for years to come: Millions of its citizens are affected by radiation-related ailments.
      The plant's last reactor, the one shut down Friday, was reactor No. 3. It is located in the same building as reactor No. 4, which exploded and caught fire on 26 April 1986, contaminating vast areas of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus and spewing a radioactive cloud over Europe. The Kremlin tried to conceal the accident and delayed evacuation of people from nearby towns for days. Firefighters and other workers who were the first at the destroyed reactor had little or no protection from radiation. Those moves only added to the death toll: More than 4000 cleanup workers have died since and 70'000 have been disabled by radiation in Ukraine alone. About 3.4 million of Ukraine's 50 million persons, including some 1.26 million children, are considered affected by Chernobyl.
      Since the accident, the plant has experienced numerous malfunctions. Many Ukrainians, tired of living with radiation scares, were relieved at its closure. For others, though, the shutdown means lost electricity and lost jobs. Thousands from among the plant's 6000 workers will be laid off.
      For years, energy-strapped Ukraine faced pressure from environmental groups and foreign leaders to close Chernobyl. But it refused to do so, citing the electricity the plant provided and demanding foreign aid in return. Kuchma finally pledged to shut down Chernobyl during a visit by President Clinton earlier this year.
      The European Commission has approved a $585 million loan to help Ukraine build two new reactors to make up for Chernobyl's electricity. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is to chip in another $215 million. Despite the closure, much remains to be done at Chernobyl. Ukraine plans to construct a new casing for the mammoth concrete and steel sarcophagus covering the ruined reactor No. 4. There is no decision yet on what to do with the tons of radioactive dust and nuclear fuel still inside, and work on making the structure environmentally safe will take decades. It also will take years to unload nuclear fuel from the three other Chernobyl reactors.
2000 US Federal regulators ordered an overhaul of California's electricity market in a push to control skyrocketing prices and curtail supply shortages.
2000 US First Lady and Senator-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton agreed to an $8 million book deal with publisher Simon and Schuster for her White House memoirs.
dripping bloodSkull graduate
2000 School for dictators, torturers and assassins to change name.

The "School of the Americas", in Fort Benning, Georgia, a US army facility critics have labeled a school for dictators, torturers and assassins is being closed today under that name, to reopen on 17 January 2001 as the “Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.”.
      The list of graduates from the School of the Americas is a who’s who of Latin American despots. Students have included Manuel Noriega and Omar Torrijos of Panama, Leopoldo Galtieri of Argentina, and Hugo Banzer Suarez of Bolivia. Other graduates cut a swath through El Salvador during its civil war, being involved in the 1980 assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, the El Mozote massacre in which 900 peasants were killed, and the 1989 murders of six Jesuit priests. — MORE
2000 Reuters reports that in Turkey there is for sale for $159 phone that purports to detect lies on the basis of changes in sound frequency. A light signals Red: lie, Yellow: dubious, Green: true. If the device proves effective, its importation to the US is sure to be opposed by a coalition of politicians, telemarketers, and wayward husbands.
2000 Yes, Virginia... cover your ears!
     The news comes out that, at Long Buckby school in Northamptonshire, central England, Anglican vicar Clive Evans asked more than 200 schoolchildren, aged 7 to 11, whether they believed in Father Christmas and then warned them to put their hands over their ears if they didn't want to hear what he was going to say. He then whispered: "There is no Father Christmas. “ His eight-year-old son Simon was among the children. After parents complained, Evans said: "I am very sorry if any child is upset, but I find it hard to believe that what I said really came as news to anyone at the school. “ The school's headteacher sent out a letter of apology.
1999 Child murderers to stay in prison.
     Judge refuses to release killers of 5-year-old boy (Chicago Tribune) A judge today ruled that two youths that were convicted of dropping a 5-year-old boy to his death from a public housing high-rise should remain in prison, despite a recent Illinois Supreme Court decision that struck down a state statute allowing juveniles as young as 10 to be put behind bars. Cook County Juvenile Court Judge Carol Kelly agreed with prosecutors that a prior law -- adopted in 1973 -- allows courts to transfer convicts irrespective of their age to the Illinois Department of Corrections. The two youths in this case are both 16. Attorneys for the juveniles, who were 10 and 11 when they dropped Eric Morse from a 14th-floor window on 13 October 1994 because he wouldn't steal candy for them, filed motions in Cook County Juvenile Court last week arguing that the youths are illegally incarcerated because the law that sent them to prison was declared unconstitutional.
      The 1994 Safe Neighborhoods Act included a provision, passed in reaction to the Eric Morse murder, that explicitly allowed juveniles 10 and older to be sent to a youth prison rather than a less-secure residential treatment center operated by the state's child welfare agency. The court ruled that the law was unconstitutional because lawmakers attached unrelated pieces of legislation to it. Herschella Conyers, an attorney for one of the youths, nicknamed Tony, said before the hearing that if he were released, he could either be sent home to his family or transferred to a residential treatment facility, where he could be released as early as a year from now or held until his 21st birthday. “The boy should not be incarcerated," Conyers said. “The state has no legal basis for continuing to hold this child in juvenile prison. “ The fate of the second youth, 16-year-old Jessie Rankins, was more clouded because Rankins pleaded guilty in June in adult court to sexually assaulting another inmate and was given a 9-year sentence. His prosecution in adult court led to his public identification. David Hirschboeck, a Cook County public defender who represents Rankins, argued in court that Rankins should be released from youth prison because of the Supreme Court's decision. But he said that Rankins would in all likelihood remain in prison to serve out his 9-year sentence.
1998 Disney executive testifies that Microsoft pressured the company
      At Microsoft's high-profile antitrust trial, a Walt Disney executive said that Disney received an online link in Windows only after the company agreed to create content that could be viewed solely by Internet Explorer users. The agreement required Disney to scrap a previous deal with Netscape. Microsoft had been accused of unfairly exploiting its dominance in the operating system market in order to gain an advantage over other Internet browser products.
1996 Boeing Co. announced plans to pay $13.3 billion to acquire rival aircraft manufacturer McDonnell Douglas Corp
1995 Trading on the New York Stock Exchange reaches a record 652.8 million shares, topping the old mark of 608.2 million shares set on 20 October 20, 1987. The total includes 24.3 million shares of K-Mart, which close at their low of thirteen years.
1994 John Bruton becomes Ireland's premier
1993 GATT Uruguay Round completed
1993 British premier Major and Irish premier Reynolds sign Downing Street Declaration concerning Northern Ireland self determination
1993 Haitian premier Robert Malval resigns
1990 More than 400 American Roman Catholic theologians charged that the Vatican had been throttling church reforms and imposing "an excessive Roman centralization. “They contended that the Vatican had undercut a greater role for women, slowed the ecumenical drive for Christian unity and undermined the collegial functioning of national conferences of bishops.
1989 A popular uprising began that resulted in the downfall of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
1988 Father Alvaro Leonel Ramazzini Imeri is appointed bishop of San Marcos, Guatemala. He would be ordained a bishop on 06 January 1989. He was born in Guatemala City on 16 June 1947 and ordained a priest on 27 June 1971.
1983 Last 80 US combat soldiers in Grenada withdraw.
1982 Spain reopens border with Gibraltar.
1982 São Tomé and Príncipe constitution approved
1982 Roy Williams, Teamsters pres, and 4 others convicted of bribery
1980 Premier Queddei troops conquers Chad capital N'djamena
1979 Deposed Shah of Iran leaves US for Panama
1979 World Court in Hague rules Iran should release all US hostages
1978 US to recognize Communist China, dump Taiwan.
      President Jimmy Carter states that as of January 1, 1979, the United States will recognize the communist People's Republic of China (PRC) and sever relations with Taiwan.
      Following Mao Zedong's successful revolution in China in 1949, the United States steadfastly refused to recognize the new communist regime. Instead, America continued to recognize and supply the Nationalist Chinese government that had been established by Chiang Kai-shek on the island of Taiwan. In 1950, during the Korean War, US and PRC armed forces clashed. During the 1960s, the United States was angered by PRC support and aid to North Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
      By the 1970s, however, a new set of circumstances existed. From the US viewpoint, closer relations with the PRC would bring economic and political benefits. Economically, American businessmen were eager to try and exploit the huge Chinese market. Politically, US policymakers believed that they could play the "China card"-using closer diplomatic relations with the PRC to pressure the Soviets into becoming more malleable on a variety of issues, including arms agreements. The PRC also had come to desire better relations with its old enemy. It sought the large increase in trade with the United States that would result from normalized relations, and particularly looked forward to the technology it might obtain from America. The PRC was also looking for allies. A military showdown with its former ally, Vietnam, was in the making and Vietnam had a mutual support treaty with the Soviets.
      Carter's announcement that diplomatic ties would be severed with Taiwan (which the PRC insisted on) angered many in Congress. The Taiwan Relations Act was quickly passed in retaliation. It gave Taiwan nearly the same status as any other nation recognized by the United States and also mandated that arms sales continue to the Nationalist government. In place of the US embassy in Taiwan, an "unofficial" representative, called the American Institute in Taiwan, would continue to serve US interests in the country.
1976 Jamaica premier Manley wins elections
1973 Billionaire's kidnapped grandson found, minus one ear
      On the 81st birthday of US billionaire J. Paul Getty, his grandson Jean Paul Getty III is found alive in southern Italy five months after his kidnapping. Getty, who was named the richest man in the world in 1957, had initially refused to pay his grandson's 3.2-million dollar ransom, and only cooperated after the boy's severed right ear was sent to a newspaper in Rome. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on 15 December 1892, Getty inherited a small oil company from his father, and through his autocratic rule and skillful manipulation of the stock market shaped Getty Oil into a massive empire. By 1968, Getty's fortune exceeded a billion dollars. However, the world's wealthiest man did not enjoy the ideal life. Getty is remembered as an eccentric billionaire art collector who married and divorced five times, and had serious relationship problems with most of his five sons. In the final twenty-five years of his life, Getty lived near London, England, in an estate surrounded by double barbed-wire fences and protected by plainclothes guards and over twenty German shepherd attack dogs. Getty was also notorious for his miserliness--his installation of a payphone for guests in his English mansion is a famous example. Three years after failing to pay his grandson's ransom in a timely manner, J. Paul Getty dies at the age of eighty-three on 06 June 1976.
1973 American Psychiatric Assn declares homosexuality is not mental illness
1972 The Commonwealth of Australia orders equal pay for women.
1969 More US troops to withdraw from Vietnam.
      President Richard Nixon announces that 50'000 additional US troops will be pulled out of South Vietnam by April 15, 1970. This was the third reduction since the June Midway conference, when Nixon announced his Vietnamization program.
      Under the Vietnamization program, the South Vietnamese forces would receive intensified training and new equipment so they could gradually assume overall responsibility for the war. Concurrent with this effort, Nixon announced that he would begin to bring US troops home. This third increment would bring the total reductions to 115'000. By January 1972, there were only around 70'000 US soldiers left in South Vietnam.
      Noting the steady withdrawal of American forces, the North Vietnamese decided to launch a massive invasion of South Vietnam in March 1972. The South Vietnamese forces, supported by American advisers and US airpower, reeled under the onslaught but ultimately prevailed, holding on despite overwhelming odds. After much posturing and many lengthy negotiations (with additional "motivation" contributed by Nixon's bombing of North Vietnam in December 1972), National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and his North Vietnamese counterpart, Le Duc Tho, hammered out a peace agreement. A cease-fire went into effect on 27 January 1973.
      The war was over for the United States, but fighting soon resumed between North and South Vietnam. The South Vietnamese held out for nearly two years, but succumbed when the United States cut off all military support. When the North Vietnamese launched a new offensive in March 1975, South Vietnam fell in just 55 days.
1968 President Richard Nixon announces the third round of Vietnam withdrawals.
1967 President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the meat bill in the presence of Upton Sinclair the author of the controversial book The Jungle.
1965 The United States bombs an industrial center near Haiphong Harbor, North Vietnam. 1965 US bombers strike industrial targets in North Vietnam In the first raid on a major North Vietnamese industrial target, US Air Force planes destroy a thermal power plant at Uong Bi, l4 miles north of Haiphong. The plant reportedly supplied about 15% of North Vietnam's total electric power production.
1964 Canada adopts maple leaf flag
1961 Adolf Eichmann, the former Nazi official accused of a major role in the extermination of 6 million Jews, is sentenced by a Jerusalem court to be hanged.
1961 Organizer of Nazi extermination of Jews is sentenced to death
      In Tel Aviv, Israel, Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi SS colonel who organized Adolf Hitler's "final solution of the Jewish question," is condemned to death by a Jewish war crimes tribunal. During World War II, Eichmann, a fanatical Nazi, was appointed head of the Gestapo's Jewish section by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, and with horrifying efficiency carried out the Fuehrer's orders. From 1942 to 1945, Eichmann oversaw the systematic abuse of Jews in German-occupied territories, organized their subsequent mass deportation to concentration camps, and then carried out Hitler's "final solution to the Jewish question"--the genocidal murder of millions of Jews in Nazi, primarily in the gas chambers of the concentration camps. In 1945, Eichmann was captured by US forces and imprisoned, but he managed to escape before having to face the Nuremberg international war crimes tribunal. Eichmann traveled under an assumed identity, and in 1950 arrived in Argentina, which maintained lax immigration policies and was a safe haven for many accused war criminals. After over a decade of pursuit, Israeli agents located Eichmann living under a false name in Argentina, and in May of 1960 kidnapped him near Buenos Aires. The agents circumvented extradition procedures and transported him to Israel, where he was judged by a special war crimes tribunal in two successive trials. Known as the "human symbol" of the genocide of the Jewish people, on December 15, 1961, Eichmann was condemned to death for the abuse and murder of millions of Jews. On June 1, 1962, Eichmann was hanged. His body was subsequently cremated and his ashes thrown into the sea.
1956 Emergency crisis in North Ireland proclaimed after IRA strikes
1956 The Communist government of Poland allows religious instruction in schools on a voluntary basis.
1954 Netherlands Antilles becomes co-equal part of Kingdom of Netherlands
1948 Former state department official Alger Hiss is indicted by a federal grand jury in New York on charges of perjury. (He was convicted in 1950.)
1946 Vietnam leader Ho Chi Minh sends a note to the new French Premier, Leon Blum, asking for peace talks.
1945 MacArthur orders end of Shinto as Japanese state religion
      General Douglas MacArthur, in his capacity as Supreme Commander of Allied Powers in the Pacific, brings an end to Shintoism as Japan's established religion. The Shinto system included the belief that the emperor, in this case Hirohito, was divine.
      On September 2, 1945 aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, MacArthur signed the instrument of Japanese surrender on behalf of the victorious Allies. Before the economic and political reforms the Allies devised for Japan's future could be enacted, however, the country had to be demilitarized. Step one in the plan to reform Japan entailed the demobilization of Japan's armed forces, and the return of all troops from abroad. Japan had had a long history of its foreign policy being dominated by the military, as evidenced by Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoye's failed attempts to reform his government and being virtually pushed out of power by career army officer Hideki Tojo.
      Step two was the dismantling of Shintoism as the Japanese national religion. Allied powers believed that serious democratic reforms, and a constitutional form of government, could not be put into place as long as the Japanese people looked to an emperor as their ultimate authority. Hirohito was forced to renounce his divine status, and his powers were severely limited--he was reduced to little more than a figurehead. And not merely religion, but even compulsory courses on ethics--the power to influence the Japanese population's traditional religious and moral duties--were wrenched from state control as part of a larger decentralization of all power.
1945 John Joseph O'Connor, born on 15 January 1920, is ordained a priest of the archdiocese of Philadelphia. He would be appointed on 24 April 1979 and ordained on 27 May 1979 a bishop for the US Military, as an auxiliary to New York's Archbishop (later Cardinal) Terence James Cooke [01 March 1921 – 06 Oct 1983] who was at the same time the Vicar Apostolic of the US Military. On 06 May 1983 O'Connor would be appointed and on 29 June 1983 installed as bishop of Scranton. On 26 January he would be appointed and on 19 March 1984 installed as archbishop of New York. He would be made a cardinal on 25 May 1985. Cardinal O'Connor would die on 03 May 2000.
1944 US Congress gives General Eisenhower his 5th star
1944 US troops lands on Mindoro
1944 The battle for Luzon begins.
1941 USS Swordfish becomes 1st US sub to sink a Japanese ship
1941 An AFL council adopts a no-strike policy in war industries, which include automotive plants being converted to World War II military production (domestic automobile manufacturing stops completely from 1941 to 1944).
1938 Washington sends its fourth note to Berlin demanding amnesty for Jews.
1927 Trotski, est exclu du Parti communiste d'URSS.
      Tard rallié à Lénine, Léon Bronstein, alias Trotski, devient le chef de l'Armée rouge. Partisan de la révolution permanente et d'une répression à outrance de toute forme d'opposition au régime communiste, il s'oppose très vite à Staline, qui veut, comme Lénine, sauver la Révolution grâce à un compromis provisoire sur la collectivisation de l'agriculture et de la petite industrie (la NEP ou Nouvelle Politique Economique).
      En 1924, l'impitoyable Trotski écrit: "Aucun de nous ne veut ou ne peut discuter la volonté du Parti, car le Parti a toujours raison. On ne peut avoir raison qu'avec et par le Parti, car l'Histoire n'a pas ouvert d'autres voies pour suivre la raison. “ Conformément à ces vues, Trotski va lui-même devoir s'effacer devant son ennemi Staline, en qui s'incarne le Parti communiste. Il s'exilera au Kazakhstan puis au Mexique, où il sera assassiné en 1940 par un espion à la solde de son vieil ennemi, Staline.
1924 The Soviet Union warns the United States against repeated entry of ships into Soviet territorial waters.
1920 China wins a place on the League Council; Austria is admitted.
1919 Fiume (Rijeka) declares it's Independence
1917 Moldavian Republic declares independence from Russia.
1917 A Brest-Litovsk, les bolcheviks russes signent un armistice avec les Allemands et les Autrichiens. Dès le 08 novembre, soit le lendemain de la prise de pouvoir par les bolcheviks des centres vitaux de Petrograd, Lénine avait signé un décret qui proposait une "paix sans annexions" à tous les belligérants. Mais ce décret d'un agitateur au pouvoir encore incertain était resté lettre morte. Lénine se résoud à demander l'armistice pour prendre de court les Russes qui veulent continuer le combat, y compris dans son parti. Soucieux de consolider son pouvoir sur la Russie, Lénine veut en finir avec la Grande Guerre commencée trois ans plus tôt. Convaincu que les vainqueurs finiront par être balayés par la révolution prolétarienne, il est prêt à concéder aux Allemands tout ce qu'ils voudront. Les négociations de paix dureront jusqu'au 03 mars 1918.
1916 French defeat Germans in WW I Battle of Verdun
1914 Battle of Lodz ends; Russians retreat toward Moscow
1914 After closing for over four months in the wake of the start of WW I in Europe (to avoid a panic in European shares, which totales $2.4 billion), the New York Stock Exchange reopens, with some trading restrictions.
1900 Count Leo Tolstoy writes to the Tsar asking him to end religious persecution.
1899 Battle at Colenso, South Africa, the Boers defeat the British.
1896 IBM precursor saved from ruin by sale to Russia
      Herman Hollerith, inventor of the tabulating machine used in the 1890 US census, was saved from financial ruin when the Russian government contracts to buy his tabulating machine for their census on this day in 1896. Hollerith had been trying to sell the machines to businesses and other governments since the devices were first used in the US census. However, a deep economic depression from 1893-1894 had thwarted his efforts. After months of providing free services and demonstrations to convince railroads and other businesses to use his machine, Hollerith found his finances were running dry. The Russian government's agreement to use the machine, along with several other important contracts that came through at the same time, saved the company. Hollerith's Tabulating Machine Company later merged with several other companies to become IBM.
1889 Au Brésil, les militaires destituent l'empereur Pierre II et instaurent la République. L’année précédente, en retard sur les autres Etats occidentaux, le pays a aboli l’esclavage.
1886 Trading on the New York Stock Exchange reaches a record 1.2 million shares
1874 Hawaiian King visits US President
      In Washington, D.C., David Kalakaua, king of the Pacific island chain later known as the Hawaiian Islands, is received by President Ulysses S. Grant at the White House. King Kalakaua of the Sandwich Islands is the first reigning king to visit the United States. Three days later, Congress receives King Kalakaua, and a new treaty between the US and the Sandwich Islands is discussed. During the second half of the nineteenth century, American investors gradually increased their influence on the political and social life of the Hawaiian Islands. In 1893, a group of American expatriates supported by a division of US Marines dispose Queen Liliuokalani, the last reigning monarch of Hawaii. One year later, the Republic of Hawaii is established as a US protectorate and American Sanford B. Dole is proclaimed president. Many in Congress oppose the formal annexation of Hawaii, and it is not until 1898, and the use of the naval base at Pearl Harbor during the Spanish-American War, that Hawaii's strategic importance becomes evident and formal annexation is approved. Two years later, Hawaii is organized into a formal US territory and in 1959 enters the United States as the fiftieth state. .
1862 Nathan B. Forrest crosses the Tennessee River at Clifton with 2500 men to raid the communications around Vicksburg, Mississippi.
1862 In New Orleans, Louisiana, Union Major General Benjamin F. Butler turns his command over to Nathaniel Banks. The citizens of New Orleans hold farewell parties for Butler, “The Beast,” but only after he leaves.
1859 GR Kirchoff describes chemical composition of Sun
1854 1st street-cleaning machine in US 1st used in Philadelphia
1830 Le procès des ministres de Charles X débute.
      Ils sont déférés devant la Chambre des pairs, qui siège au palais du Luxembourg. Seuls quatre ne sont pas parvenus à fuir à l'étranger et sont présents : Polignac, le premier d'entre eux, arrêté à Granville alors qu'il allait s'embarquer pour l'Angleterre, Peyronnet, ex-ministre de l'Intérieur, Chantelauze, ex-ministre de la Justice, et Guernon-Ranville, ex-ministre de l'Instruction publique, qui furent tous trois arrêtés à Tours. A l'issue du procès, ils seront condamnés à la réclusion perpétuelle. Polignac sera en outre condamné à la " mort civile ".
1811 Earthquake hits New Madrid, Missouri
1799 Bonaparte, Premier consul, déclare "La Révolution est finie" lorsqu'il proclame la Constitution de l'An VIII, qui met en place le Consulat. Le programme de Bonaparte consiste en une phrase : "Rendre la République chère aux citoyens, respectable aux étrangers, formidable aux ennemis, telles sont les obligations que nous avons contractées en acceptant la première magistrature. “
1796 le général Bonaparte remporte une brillante victoire sur les Autrichiens du général Avinczy à Arcole, dans le Piémont italien. Après trois jours de combats indécis, Bonaparte s'élance sur un pont sous la mitraille. Il tombe dans les marais et s'écrie: "Soldats, en avant pour sauver le général". Ses grenadiers se ruent en avant. La victoire est à la France.
1794 Revolutionary Tribunal abolished in France.
1791 The US Bill of Rights is ratified.
      Following ratification by the state of Virginia, the first ten amendments to the US Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, become law. On 25 September 1789, the first Congress of the United States adopted twelve amendments to the Constitution, and sent them to the states for ratification. The Bill of Rights were designed to protect the basic rights of US citizens, guaranteeing such freedoms as speech, religion, and a free press. In addition to other earlier influences, the Bill of Rights was heavily drawn from the Virginian Declaration of Rights, which was drafted by George Mason in 1776. Mason, a native Virginian, was a lifelong champion of individual liberties, and in 1787 attended the Constitutional Convention where he advocated the creation of the Bill of Rights.
      Virginia becomes the tenth state to approve ten of the twelve amendments, thus giving the Bill of Rights the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it legal. Of the two amendments not ratified, the first concerns the population system of representation, while the second prohibits laws regarding the payment of congressional members to take effect until another election of these representatives has intervened. The first of these two amendments is never ratified, while the second is finally ratified over two hundred years later, in 1992.
1664 English colonizing Connecticut
1660 Philippines: Andres Malong's rebels plunders Bagnotan
1612 Simon Marius, is 1st to observe Andromeda galaxy through a telescope
1582 Spanish Netherlands/Denmark/Norway adopt Gregorian calendar
1488 Bartholomeus Diaz returns to Portugal after sailing round Cape of Good Hope
1315 Victoire des Trois Cantons suisses à Morgarten
     A Morgarten, au sud de Zürich, des montagnards repoussent les troupes du duc Léopold d'Autriche, seigneur de Habsbourg. C'est l'une des rares fois, au Moyen Age, où des communautés paysannes réussissent à s'émanciper de leur suzerain féodal. Dans le reste de l'Europe, les révoltes paysannes débouchent sur des jacqueries sans issue. Les trois cantons alpins d'Uri, Schwyz et Unterwald avaient signé quelques années plus tôt, en 1291, un pacte pour se défendre contre les empiètements de leur suzerain, la maison de Habsbourg. La victoire de Morgarten va renforcer leur cohésion. Elle va aussi leur rallier les cantons environnants et surtout les villes de Zürich, Bâle et Berne. Ces communes libres, bien que bourgeoises, vont faire front commun avec les cantons paysans contre les prétentions des Habsbourg. A la fin du XVe siècle, les Suisses confédérés devront encore se battre contre le duc de Bourgogne Charles le Téméraire, désireux de reconstituer à son profit l'ancienne Lotharingie de l'époque carolingienne. Protégée par ses montagnes et fortifiée par le courage de ses habitants, la Suisse, qui tire son nom du canton de Schwyz (en allemand, Schweiz), va rester une confédération de cantons autonomes sans presque aucune administration centrale. Les tentatives de centralisation se révéleront vaines, hier comme aujourd'hui.
1124 Chancellor Haimeric selects pope (Lamberto becomes Honorius II)
1055 Le Turc Toghrul-beg s'empare de Bagdad, la prestigieuse capitale de l'empire arabe où siègent depuis trois siècles les califes, les successeurs du prophète Mahomet.
      Toghrul-beg est lui-même musulman. C'est le petit-fils d'un chef de tribu de la steppe kirghize dénommé Seldjouk, d'où le nom de Seldjoukide donné à sa horde. Toghrul-beg a déjà conquis l'Iran avant d'entrer à Bagdad. Il profite des dissensions entre Arabes pour imposer sa protection au calife, de la dynastie des Abbassides. Il épouse sa fille et devient son vicaire temporel, avec le titre de sultan. Le calife conserve des fonctions religieuses surtout honorifiques.
      L'irruption des Turcs au Moyen-Orient est lourde de conséquences. Dans un premier temps, les successeurs de Toghrul-beg relancent la progression de l'Islam. A Malazgerd, les Turcs Seldjoukides mettent à genoux l'empire chrétien de Byzance, lointain successeur de l'empire romain d'Orient. Ils enlèvent aussi Jérusalem aux Arabes d'Egypte. Il s'ensuit une situation confuse qui empêche les chrétiens de se rendre en pélerinage en Terre sainte.
      A Clermont, dans le lointain royaume des Francs, un pape va prêcher la Croisade en vue de délivrer le tombeau du Christ. Son initiative va réveiller les énergies de l'Occident médiéval.
      Deux siècles plus tard, tandis que les Croisades arriveront à leur terme, les Turcs Seldjoukides seront définitivement éliminés par un nouveau peuple nomade surgi des steppes d'Asie et encore plus dur qu'eux-mêmes, les Mongols.
1025 Basil II is succeeded as emperor by Constantine VIII, his brother and co-ruler.
0687 Saint Sergius I begins his reign as Pope.
0530 Les “Pandectes”
      Justinien, Empereur d’Orient, (Empire Byzantin) dresse un recueil des lois, les Pandectes. Notre Code Civil est fortement influencé par le Code Napoléonien, encore que depuis quelques décennies on semble vouloir s’en affranchir. Mais l’esprit reste.
      Ce Code Napoléonien n’était lui-même qu’une amélioration du Code de Justinien, consigné en 530 dans les " Pandectes ". Par ce terme d’origine grecque — pandectai , qui contient tout —, on désigne un recueil juridique, compilé sur l’ordre de l’empereur Justinien (527-565) et qui est plus connu sous son nom latin de "Digeste". Les Pandectes sont formées de passages repris aux œuvres des jurisconsultes romains de l’époque classique, de Quintus Mucius Scaevola (mort en ~ 82) à Hermogénien et Charisius (fin IIIème siècle - début du IVème siècle). Près de quarante jurisconsultes ont ainsi été utilisés, quelque 1 500 livres de droit dépouillés.
      Le 15 decembre 530, Justinien chargeait de ce travail le questeur du palais, Tribonien, lequel s’entoura de collaborateurs pris parmi des avocats, des professeurs, des hauts fonctionnaires. Il était demandé à la commission de faire un choix dans les textes et, afin de mettre un terme aux incertitudes et aux controverses, d’écarter les contradictions, les solutions vieillies et, au besoin, de modifier les textes anciens pour mieux les adapter au droit du VIème siècle (interpolation). Malgré son ampleur, l’œuvre fut conduite rapidement, et les Pandectes promulguées le 15 decembre 533 entraient en application et recevaient valeur de loi le 30 décembre de la même année, sous le titre de Digesta, sive Pandecta Juris.
      Les textes des juristes classiques ont été groupés par matière. Les Pandectes se divisent en cinquante livres, chaque livre contient plusieurs titres, chacun étant consacré à un point de droit particulier. Dans chaque titre figurent les fragments des œuvres des jurisconsultes, avec indication du nom de leur auteur et du titre de l’ouvrage dont ils sont tirés.
      Les Pandectes constituaient ainsi une somme du droit romain dans laquelle beaucoup de solutions remontant à l’époque classique se mêlaient à quelques innovations d’époque plus récente. L’œuvre ne fut guère utilisée, ni même connue, dans les parties occidentales de l’Empire romain reconquises par Justinien, mais elle eut une grande diffusion dans l’Empire byzantin et sera utilisée dans des compilations ultérieures, spécialement dans les Basiliques.
      En Occident, les Pandectes furent "découvertes" en Italie vers le milieu du XIème siècle ; leur étude fut le point de départ d’un "droit savant", dont les droits modernes sont encore tributaires.
Deaths which occurred on a December 15:
2003 Adan Avalos, 37, after being shot and crashing the sport-utility vehicle he was driving on Highway 120 in San Joaquin County, Calfornia. He is reported missing and the wreck with his body is not found until the morning of 26 December 2003, off the highway.
2003 Eight Iraqi policemen and a suicide car bomber driving a four-wheel drive taxi, in the Husainiyah district on the northern outskirts of Baghdad, Iraq. 10 policemen and at least five civilians, including a five-year-old girl, are wounded.
2002 Keith McCaw, 49, in the hottub of his mansion in Seattle. He was a billionaire listed by Forbes magazine as the 445th-richest person in the world in 2002, tied with brothers Bruce and John. His other brother, Craig McCaw, was listed as the world's 168th richest person, worth $2.4 billion. They made their fortune when AT&T bought their cellular-phone company McCaw Cellular Communications for $11.5 billion in 1994. Their father, Elroy McCaw, made a fortune owning radio and television stations, but the family estate was declared bankrupt after he died of a stroke in 1969.
2002 Four children and two adults, trampled by drunken elephants, in Tinsukia, Assam. Of India's 10'000 wild elephants, 5500 are in Assam. They are protected by law, but destruction of their habitat makes them emerge from the forests by the hundreds in search of food and trample rice fields and destroy granaries. Some of them have become alcoholics and, when they invade villages they look for rice beer and local liquor.
2001 Four Palestinians, including two boys aged 12 and 17, and Ahmed al-Bassuni, 28, a police officer whose jeep was hit, before dawn, when more than a dozen Israeli tanks, accompanied by armored personnel carriers and jeeps, enter Beit Hanoun at the northern tip of Gaza, and (they say) come under fire and shoot back. Some 40 Palestinians are injured.
Derwin Brown2000 Derwin Brown, 46, [photo >] shot 11 times with a large caliber TEC-9 semiautomatic pistol, shortly before midnight outside of his home in Decatur, Georgia. He was the sheriff-elect of Dekalb County, to be sworn in on December 18, and had just completed Sheriff academy training. He won the August runoff election after a bitter campaign against corrupt Sheriff Sidney Dorsey. Brown served in the DeKalb Police Department for 23 years where, most recently, he had risen to the rank of police captain. Dorsey would be arrested on 30 November 2001 and put on trial in June 2002 for having, about a week after the election, ordered the killing of Brown to DeKalb County jailer Patrick Cuffy, Paul Skyers, deputy David Ramsey, and Melvin Walker, the last two being the trigger men, at whose trial Cuffy would thus testify on 14 March 2002.
2000 Nourreddin Abu Safi, 22, one of six Palestinians killed by Israelis in five separate shootings this day. One more would die of his wounds the next day.
2000 Elisabeth Mathild Otto, 29, jumping or falling out of open emergency exit in Hewlettt-Packard corporate plane at 600 m over Sacramento. She was a Dutch employee of HP Germany on temporary assignment in California.
1994: 48 inhabitants of Monrovia killed by Liberia militia.
1991 At least 464 persons as an Egyptian-registered ferry sinks in the Red Sea.
1986 150 killed during race riot in Karachi
1971 Paul Lévy, mathematician.
1967 34 die as Silver Bay bridge (Oh-WV) collapses
during afternoon rush hour, into the Ohio River. Dozens of cars fall into the icy water. Many more people are injured.
1966 Walt Disney, animator, 65, goes into suspended animation. He was born on 05 December 1901.
1965 Some 10'000 by 3rd cyclone of year at mouths of Ganges River, Bangladesh
1958 Wolfgang Pauli, mathematician.
1947 Arthur Machen, 84, (pseudonym of Arthur Llewellyn Jones), Welsh novelist and essayist, a forerunner of 20th-century Gothic science fiction. Besides the online works cited below, he wrote The Bowmen and Other Legends of War (1915), The Terror (1917), Far Off Things (1922), Things Near and Far (1923). Machen also translated Casanova's Memoirs (12 vol., 1930).
MACHEN ONLINE: The Great God Pan and the Inmost Light (!894),   The Hill of Dreams (1907; autobiographical, evokes ancient Roman forts and Welsh mysteries)
1941 Cent otages juifs et/ou communistes, fusillés pendant l'occupation allemande, 75 au Mont Valérien, un ancien fort à l'ouest de Paris qui est de la sorte devenu le martyrologue de la résistance française au nazisme, et 25 en province. Parmi les victimes du mont Valérien figure Gabriel Péri (39 ans), ancien journaliste au quotidien du parti communiste, L'Humanité. En septembre 1939, sitôt après le pacte entre Hitler et Staline et l'entrée en guerre de la France contre Hitler, le gouvernement avait interdit le quotidien communiste de parution. Mais le 14 Jun 1940, à peine les Allemands s'étaient-ils installés à Paris que Jacques Duclos, patron du Parti Communiste Français après la fuite de Maurice Thorez à Moscou, avait demandé à la Propagandastaffel l'autorisation de reparaître.
Gabriel Péri protesta contre cette compromission du Parti avec l'occupant, ce qui lui valut d'être écarté de la rédaction puis trahi par les siens.
Il fut arrêté le 18 mai 1941 alors que déjà, les communistes français se préparaient à entrer en résistance au vu des menaces contre la «patrie du socialisme réel», l'Union soviétique du camarade Staline. — [Péri péri et pas du béri-béri]
1939 Day 16 of Winter War: USSR aggression against Finland. [Talvisodan 16. päivä]
More deaths due to Stalin's desire to grab Finnish territory.
Finnish offensive in the Ladoga Karelia sector.
  • Eastern Isthmus: at Taipale, a Russian division launches a tank-supported offensive at 08:30. The advance is halted at Kirvesmäki.
  • The fighting at Terenttilä continues into the second day.
  • Central Isthmus: two Finnish companies launch a counterattack at Summa, but fail to get further than a few kilometres.
  • Ladoga Karelia: troops of the 13th Division under the command of Colonel Hannuksela launch an offensive towards Ruhtinaanmäki.
  • At Uomaa, a Finnish patrol rescues two wounded men who had survived in a tent for 12 days in territory overrun by the enemy.
  • Listeners are reminded that today is the last recommended day for sending Christmas packages to the troops at the front.
  • Despite the war, Finland is honoring the repayment schedule for its First World War debt to the USA.
  • 1921 Königsberger, mathematician.
    1915 Enoch Wood Perry, US artist born in 1831.
    1914 Bernardus Johannes Bloomers, Dutch artist born on 30 January 1845.
    1904 Ottokar Walter, Austrian artist born on 30 October 1853.
    1899 Alberto Pasini Italian painter, specialized in Orientalism, born on 02 September 1826. — more with links to images.
    1890 Chief Sitting Bull of the Sioux and 11 other tribe members, killed in Grand River, S.D., by US agents heading Amerindian auxiliaries.
    1889 Ferdinand II A F A, 73, king of Portugal.
    1864 Rebs and Yanks as Battle of Nashville begins.
          The once powerful Confederate Army of Tennessee is nearly destroyed when a Union army commanded by General George Thomas swarms over the Rebel trenches around Nashville. This was the sad finale in a disastrous year for the General John Bell Hood's Confederates. The Rebels lost a long summer campaign for Atlanta in September when Hood abandoned the city to the army of William T. Sherman. Hood then took his diminished force north into Tennessee. He hoped to draw Sherman out of the deep South, but Sherman had enough troops to split his force and send part of it to chase Hood into Tennessee. In November, Sherman took the remainder of his army on his march across Georgia. On 30 November Hood attacked the troops of General John Schofield at Franklin, Tennessee. The Confederates suffered heavy casualties and much of the army's leadership structure was destroyed: twelve generals were killed or wounded along with 60 regimental leaders. When Schofield moved north to Nashville to join Thomas, Hood followed him and dug his army in outside of Nashville's formidable defenses.
          Thomas saw his chance to deal a decisive blow to Hood. More than 50'000 Yankees faced a Rebel force that now totaled less than 20'000. Historians have long questioned why Hood even approached the strongly fortified city with the odds so stacked against him. Early in the morning of 15 December, Thomas sent a force under General James Steedman against the Confederates' right flank. The Union troops overran the Confederate trenches and drove the Rebels back more than a mile. The short December day halted the fighting, but Thomas struck again on 16 December. This time, the entire Confederate line gave way and sent Hood's men from the field in a total rout. Only General Stephen Lee's valiant rear-guard action prevented total destruction of the Confederate army.
          More than 6000 Rebels were killed or wounded and 3000 Yankees lost their lives. Hood and his damaged army retreated to Mississippi, the Army of Tennessee no longer a viable offensive fighting force.
    1849 Francoeur, mathematician.
    1838 Léger
    , mathematician.
    1826 William Browser, revolted slave, executed in NYC.
    1816 Charles Stanhope, a British earl. He invented two early mechanical calculators, as well as a printing press, a microscope lens, and various other scientific devices. He argued for the democratization of Parliament and criticized the slave trade in British colonies.
    1805 Dirk Thierry (or Théodore) Langendyk, Dutch artist born on 08 March 1748.
    1713 cavaliere Carlo Maratti (or Maratta), Italian painter born on 15 May 1625. — MORE ON MARATTI AT ART “4” DECEMBER with links to images.
    1675 (burial) Jan Vermeer van Delft, great Dutch painter who was born shortly before his 31 October 1632 baptism. — MORE ON VERMEER AT ART “4” DECEMBER with links to many images.
    1515 Alfonso de Albuquerque, viceroy of Portuguese Indies.
    1230 Ottokar I, king of Bohemia (1197-1230)
    Births which occurred on a December 15:
    1971 Le microprocesseur
         Dans une publicité de la revue Electronic News, la firme Intel annonce "A microprogrammable computer on a chip" (un ordinateur programmable dans une puce). L'inventeur, Marcia E. “Ted" Hoff, a eu l'idée d'associer sur un minuscule support tous les circuits qui constituent un ordinateur. Ce microprocesseur 4004, avec une taille de 3,2 mm, est capable d'effectuer jusqu'à 60'000 opérations par seconde. Sa puissance est comparable à celle du célèbre ENIAC, dont les circuits occupaient un volume d'environ 80 mètre-cube.
    Genèse d'une révolution
          L'ENIAC, né juste après la seconde guerre mondiale, est l'un des premiers ordinateurs numériques jamais construits. Il était composé de plus de 15'000 tubes à vide, en quelque sorte de grosses ampoules. Ces tubes furent remplacés par des transistors dans la génération suivante d'ordinateurs numériques. Ces transistors, inventés par les laboratoires Bell en 1948 ont eux-même été progressivement miniaturisés, ce qui a permis la mise au point des microprocesseurs. En quelques années, dans l'ensemble du monde développé, les microprocesseur ont bouleversé l'informatique, l'industrie et les télécommunications. La "puce" est à l'origine de l'automatisation des tâches industrielles, de l'usage de la micro-informatique dans les activités de services et dans les activités ludiques ou domestiques, ainsi que de l'expansion foudroyante de la téléphonie et de l'internet. Ses performances ne cessent de s'accroître. Les microprocesseurs les plus récents, comme le "Pentium" d'Intel, peuvent contenir jusqu'à 100'000 transistors miniatures. Les microprocesseurs sont à l'origine d'une troisième révolution industrielle, après l'invention de la machine à vapeur par James Watt, au XVIIIe siècle, et la découverte des applications pratiques de l'électricité par Thomas Edison, au XIXe siècle.
    1952 Encyclical Orientales Ecclesias in published by Pope Pius XII.
    1944 Hizbu'allah (Armed forces for Allah) forms
    1936 The Road to Wigan Pier goes to publisher.
          Writer George Orwell delivers his manuscript for his book The Road to Wigan Pier, which chronicles the difficult life of the unemployed in northern England. Then he promptly sets off for the civil war in Spain.
          George Orwell was the nom de plume for Eric Blair, who was born in India. The son of a British civil servant, Orwell attended school in London and won a scholarship to the elite prep school Eton, where most students came from wealthy upper-class backgrounds, unlike Orwell. Rather than going to college like most of his classmates, Orwell joined the Indian Imperial Police and went to work in Burma in 1922. During his five years there, he developed a severe sense of class guilt, until, in 1927, he elected not to return to Burma while in England on a holiday.
          Orwell, choosing to immerse himself in the experiences of the urban poor, went to Paris, where he worked menial jobs, and later spent time in England as a tramp. He published Down and Out in Paris and London in 1933, based on his observations of the poorer classes, and The Road to Wigan Pier in 1937. Meanwhile, he had published his first novel, Burmese Days, in 1934.
          Orwell became increasingly liberal in his views, though he never committed himself to any specific political party. Although he fought with the Republicans in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, he later fled the country as communism gained an upper hand. His barnyard fable, Animal Farm (1945: "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others"), shows how the noble ideals of egalitarian economies can easy be distorted. The book brought him his first taste of critical and financial success. Orwell's last novel, Nineteen Eighty-four, brought him lasting fame with its grim vision of a future where all citizens are watched constantly and language is twisted to aid in oppression. Orwell died of tuberculosis in 1950.
    1932 Edna O'Brien Ireland, writer (Fanatic of Heart, Casualties of Peace)
    1928 Friedrich Stowasser “Hundertwasser”, Austrian painter who died in 2000. — MORE ON “HUNDERTWASSER” AT ART “4” DECEMBER with links to images.
    1916 Maurice Hugh Frederick Wilkins, English physicist who studied DNA and shared the 1962 Nobel Medicine Prize.
    1913 Muriel Rukeyser US, poet (1977 Shelley Memorial Award)
    1912 Goodstein, mathematician.
    1907 Oscar Niemeyer, Brazilians architect (Brasilia)
    1906 Betty Smith novelist (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn)
    1892 Jean Paul Getty, Minneapolis MN. Oil billionaire reputed to be the richest man in the world at the time of his death (6 June 1976). He owned a controlling interest in the Getty Oil Company and in nearly 200 other concerns.
    1891 Basketball invented by James Naismith (Canada)
    1888 Maxwell Anderson US, dramatist (Winter Set, High Tor)
    1884 Eugen Zak, Polish artist who died on 15 January 1926. — The Nun
    1882 Helena Rubinstein, US cosmetic manufacturer.
    1877 Phonograph is patented by Thomas Edison.
    1863 Arthur D Little US, chemist (patented rayon)
    1863, Paul Prudent Painlevé, French mathematician/minister/premier.
    1861 Charles Edgar Duryea inventor (1st auto built & operated in US)
    1860 Niels Ryberg Finsen, Danish physician and phototherapist who shared the 1903 Nobel Medicine Prize.
    1859 Ludwik L Zamenhof Russian Poland, created Esperanto
    1852 Antoine Henri Becquerel, who discovered radioactivity and shared the 1903 Nobel Physics Prize.
    1852 Tewfik Pasha, khedive (viceroy) of Egypt.
    1848 Edwin Howland Blashfield, US painter who died on 12 October 1936. — more with links to images.
    1832 Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, à Dijon
          L'oeuvre architecturale la plus connue de cet ingénieur est certainement la tour qui porte son nom. Édifiée à l'occasion de l'Exposition Universelle de 1889, elle est construite entièrement en fer et dresse ses plus 300 mètres de haut sur le Champ de Mars, au bord de la Seine à Paris. Gustave Eiffel, a aussi participé à l'édification de la statue de la Liberté qui se dresse à l'entrée du port de New York. Oeuvre du sculture Frédéric Bartholdi, ce monument est soutenu par une armature métalique conçue par Eiffel. Il a aussi construit un grand nombre de ponts métalliques dont le plus audacieux est le viaduc de Garabit. Il fut l'un des premiers à utiliser des caissons d'air comprimé dans la construction de ses ponts. (les quatres pieds de la Tour Eiffel sont d'ailleurs élevés sur des caissons semblables) Il est l'un des principaux fondateur de la sciences de l'aérodynamique.
    1827 Roberts, mathematician.
    1823 Davidov, mathematician.
    1802 János Bolyai , Romania, mathematician (non-Euclidean geometry)
    1793 Henry Charles Carey Philadelphia PA, economist (Principles of Poli Economy)
    1787 Charles Cowden Clarke English editor/Shakespearean critic.
    1777 Jean-Georges Hirn, French artist who died on 09 April 1839.
    1731 Maseres, mathematician.
    1664 Jan-Baptiste van der Meiren, Flemish artist who died is 1708.
    1610 David Teniers II, prolific Flemish painter of the Baroque period known for his genre scenes of peasant life. He died on 25 April 1690. — MORE ON TENIERS AT ART “4” DECEMBER with links to many images.
    0804 L’abbaye de Saint-Guilhem-le-désert est fondée.
          Appellation étrange. Il s’agit d’un lieu au sud du Massif Central, en France (à une trentaine de km de Montpellie). Il porte son nom p.c.q. il évoque la solitude du désert. Et ceci p.c.q. Saint-Guilhem, héros de Charlemagne, s’y retira en ermite.
          Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert est d’abord un site exceptionnel, dans le cadre grandiose des gorges de l’Hérault. A la confluence d’un torrent (le Verdus) et de l’Hérault. C’est en raison de sa sauvagerie que Guillaume, comte de Toulouse, cousin de Charlemagne par sa mère Aude, fille de Charles Martel, le choisit pour terminer en odeur de sainteté une vie jusque-là consacrée aux entreprises guerrières.
          Vers 804, il renonce au siècle et se fait moine à l’abbaye d’Aniane qu’avait fondée en 782 Benoît, le grand réformateur de la discipline monastique à l’époque carolingienne. Puis, peu après, sur le conseil et avec l’aide de ce dernier, il fonde non loin d’Aniane, dans le désert de Gellone, un monastère qu’il dote richement le 15 décembre 804. Il s’y retire en 806 et y meurt en 812. On pense assez communément que ce personnage historique fut l’ébauche du plus célèbre des héros de l’épopée médiévale après Charlemagne et Roland : Guillaume d’Orange.
          Aux XIème et XIIème siècles, Gellone, qui devient Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, est l’objet d’un important pèlerinage, et le Guide du pèlerin de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle fait obligation aux pèlerins empruntant la route de Toulouse de " rendre visite au corps du bienheureux confesseur Guillaume ". C’est aussi le moment où l’on reconstruit l’église et le cloître.
          Du monastère carolingien, il reste de nombreux fragments du mobilier liturgique et funéraire, sous forme de panneaux et de pilastres sculptés, dont les motifs d’entrelacs et de tresses, souvent d’excellente qualité, sont exécutés en méplat ou en biseau. Une première reconstruction eut lieu vers l’an mille, entre 990 et 1006. L’église, connue par des fouilles menées entre 1962 et 1970, se caractérisait alors par une organisation du chevet tout à fait intéressante pour l’étude des cryptes édifiées durant la période intermédiaire entre les époques carolingienne et romane.
          Puis à plusieurs reprises par la suite, elle subit des transformations et restaurations qui l’éloignent quelque peu de la construction d’origine. Stylistiquement, elle entretient des rapports très étroits avec le décor de la façade de Saint-Gilles-du-Gard. En outre, l’église abrite un orgue historique renommé, de style baroque méridional, dû au facteur Jean-Pierre Cavaillé, dont la construction avait été arrêtée en 1789. Il a été restauré complètement par Alain Sals en 1984.
    0037 Claudius Augustus Germanicus Nero 5th Roman emperor (54-68); did not fiddle while Rome burned
         His name has become proverbial for a human monster. He was cruel, demented, egotistical, barbaric, and obsessed with power.
          Nero was to be the last of the family of Julius Caesar to be emperor of Rome. He came to the throne at the age of 16, after his mother Agrippina poisoned her husband, the emperor Claudius.
          During his early reign he was guided by the philosopher Seneca and Burius, the commander of his guard. Roman rule spread from Britain to Armenia, but Nero was more concerned with promoting his own power than the might of Rome. To secure his own power he had Claudius' son poisoned and his own mother Agrippina murdered.
          The last years of his rule were years of terror and self- indulgence. When a conspiracy against him failed, Nero became even more repressive. Even his teacher and advisor Seneca was forced to commit suicide.
          Nero thought of himself as a grand actor on the world's stage. He had a passion for popular applause and frequently performed for his subjects. He played the lyre, sang odes at supper, drove chariots in the circus, was a mimic on the stage, and even forced Senators and government leaders to act in dramas with him.
          When Rome burned in 64 A.D., Nero was so fascinated with the fire and the opportunity it provided to rebuild the city that many suspected him of setting the blaze. To direct blame away from himself, Nero blamed the fire on the Christians. After all, didn't the Christians despise the Roman gods and weren't they loyal to a higher king than Caesar? Nero had some Christians crucified; others were sewn up in skins of wild beasts and thrown to dogs in the arena.
          At one of Nero's garden parties in the imperial gardens on Vatican hill, Christians were covered with pitch, oil, or resin and nailed to posts of pine. They were lighted and burned as human torches while Nero acted as a charioteer at his party. Peter and possibly Paul were also martyred in Rome during the first of the major Roman persecutions of Christians.
          As Nero's cruelties increased, he lost control of his government. The armies of Gaul and Spain revolted, and the Roman guard deserted. Nero committed suicide at the age of 32.
    Holidays Esperanto League : Zamenhof Day (1859) / Malaysia : Hol Al-Marhom Sultan Ibrahim of Johore / Netherlands Antilles : Kingdom Day/Statute Day (1954) / Pakistan : Quaid-i-Azam's Birthday / US : Bill of Rights Day (1791) / World: Underdog Day ( Friday ) / Kazakhstan: Independence Day (1991)

    Religious Observances Christian : St Nio, virgin / St Offa of Essex, king / St Paul of Latros, hermit / St Mary di Rosa / In 2002, 2048, [Jewish] Asarah B'Tevet-Siege of Jerusalem (Tevet 10, 5763, 5809) / In 2025, 2044, 2055 [Jewish] Hanukkah-Festival of Lights (Kis 25, 5786, 5805, 5816) / [Ang, RC] Ember Day / [Franciscan] Bl Mary Frances Schervier, virgin / [RC] Folcwin, bishop of Thérouanne / [RC] St Christiana / Saint Albert le Grand est une grande figure du Moyen Age. Il est représentatif des "intellectuels" de cette époque. Né en Allemagne au XIIIe siècle, il enseigne à Paris la théologie et l'oeuvre d'Aristote. Il poursuit son enseignement à Cologne où l'un de ses élèves n'est autre que Thomas d'Aquin. Esprit universel, il se montre avide d'apprendre et méprise les frontières. Son oeuvre, condensée dans un ouvrage du nom de "Grand Albert", a longtemps scandalisé le clergé en raison de ses références à la magie et à la doctrine de Platon. Albert a néanmoins été proclamé docteur de l'Eglise en 1931. / Sainte Christiane: Ninon évangélisa la Géorgie au IVe siècle. Connue sous le surnom de Christiane (la Chrétienne), elle obtint à force de miracles la conversion de la reine et de son peuple
          Une des 7 collines qui composent le site de la ville de Rome, l’un des plus anciens, est le Mont Quirinal. En l’honneur du dieu Quirinus.
          C’est un des personnages les plus difficiles et les plus complexes du panthéon romain, et qui fut encore compliqué par les exégètes modernes. À l’époque archaïque, il formait avec Jupiter et Mars une triade cohérente et articulée. La preuve en est fournie, d’une part, par l’existence d’un flamine majeur attaché à sa personne (le troisième dans l’ordre de préséance), d’autre part, par la formule de la "dévotion" où cette triade est énoncée dans l’ordre même où sont rangés les flamines majeurs.
          Son nom dérive d'une racine qui devait désigner la totalité d’une collectivité humaine ; on pourrait le traduire par "le maître de la totalité des hommes". Son flamine intervenait dans trois fêtes d’une grande importance pour la croissance, la conservation et la consommation des céréales : le 25 avril, où l’on s’efforçait de protéger les blés des attaques de la rouille ; le 21 août et le 15 décembre, où l’on honorait le dieu protecteur de l’engrangement en étroite liaison avec la déesse de la fécondité Ops (fêtée lors des fêtes du 13 Décembre avec Cérès, cfr Chroniques du 13 décembre) et le 17 février, clôture des fêtes consacrées à la torréfaction des grains pour les rendre consommables.
          Cet ensemble de données a permis depuis longtemps de reconnaître en Quirinus, dans le cadre de la triade primitive, le patron de la troisième des fonctions sociales, celle qui répond au besoin qu’a toute société d’assurer sa survie et sa perpétuation par la fécondité et la santé de ses femmes, de ses troupeaux et de ses terres, en un mot, par tout ce qui concourt à son salut physique et à sa prospérité. Mais, à la différence des fonctions de la souveraineté et de la guerre dont les contours se laissent aisément cerner, cette troisième fonction sociale offre des aspects bien plus complexes et diffus. Si, dans une théologie archaïque, Quirinus en fut le patron, il ne pouvait à lui seul, comme Jupiter ou Mars dans leur sphère propre, en récapituler tous les aspects ; la multiplicité des besoins auxquels devait répondre cette troisième fonction mettait en cause beaucoup d’autres divinités, certainement associées à Quirinus à l’origine, mais dont le nombre et la diversité ont contribué à estomper le rôle originel de ce dieu. Bien qu’il ait donné son nom à l’une des sept collines, le Quirinal, les Romains de l’âge classique ne comprenaient plus clairement le rôle de Quirinus.
          Peut-être gardaient-ils pourtant le sentiment que le nom de ce dieu était à mettre en rapport avec celui des quirites , les citoyens dans leur acception civile. Dans la Rome républicaine, tout quirite, en sa qualité de mobilisable, était un soldat (miles ) en puissance ; inversement, tout soldat restait un quirite virtuel, puisqu’il était destiné à rentrer dans la vie civile. Ainsi, les deux termes quirites et milites formaient un couple désignant les deux obligations fondamentales du statut civique. La formation de ce couple a probablement rejailli sur Quirinus : senti comme patron des quirites , il s’est trouvé articulé avec Mars, le patron des milites . Il est devenu le "Mars paisible" ou le "Mars qui préside à la paix". Aussi bien avait-il ses armes, mais qu’on avait soin de graisser comme on fait pour les armes d’un réserviste qui a le devoir de les conserver sans pour autant s’en servir.
          Cette association avec Mars explique peut-être que Quirinus soit devenu le nom du fils de Mars divinisé, Romulus. Cette assimilation n’a pourtant jamais fait perdre de vue le patronage de Quirinus sur l’état de paix. Le nouveau Romulus que voulut être Auguste aimait à entendre célébrer Quirinus-Romulus comme protecteur de cette pax romana qu’il se vantait d’imposer au monde méditerranéen.
    DICTIONNAIRE TICRANIEN: souci: objet que l'on est en train de couper avec un outil denté.
    Thoughts for the day:
    “If reality wants to get in touch with me, it knows where I am.”
    [even though I don't]
    “If reality knows where I am, I'm moving somewhere else.”
    “Never mind me, does reality know where Osama bin Laden is?”
    “Reality virtually doesn't exist.”
    “Computers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your privacy.”
    “More effective than a pointing finger or a closed fist, is a helping hand.”
    “True education makes for inequality; that of individuality, success, talent, progress of the world.”
    — after Felix Emmanuel Schelling, American educator and scholar (1858-1945).
    “No one would be above average if there was no one below average.”
    “The average person is either above average or, more likely, below average.”
    [more precisely: one standard deviation from average]
    updated Sunday 28-Dec-2003 19:19 UT
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