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Events, deaths, births, of 20 DEC
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On a December 20:
2012 Last day of the Mayan calendar: end of the world !
      The 12th and last (according to Mayan predictions) baktun started on 18 September 1618, it ends today. Now this is the Mayan date for the end of the world:
12 baktun /   19  katun  /   19  tun    /  17 winal /  19   k'in  //   03   -   kawak   //  02 -  k'ank'in    /   g1
13baktun 19katun 19tun 17winal 19k'in   03 kawak   02 k'ank'in   G1
2002 Alla presenza dil Papa Giovanni Paolo II, sono stati promulgati i Decreti riguardanti le virtù eroiche dei Servi di Dio:
  • CARLO GNOCCHI, Sacerdote Diocesano e Fondatore dell'Opera "Pro Juventute", nato il 25 Oct 1902 a San Colombano al Lambro (Italia) e morto il 28 febbraio 1956 a Milano (Italia);
  • MARIA TERESA DI SAN GIUSEPPE (al secolo: Anna Maria Tauscher van den Bosch), Fondatrice della Congregazione delle Suore Carmelitane del Divin Cuore di Gesù, nata il 19 Jun 1855 a Sandow (Germania) e morta il 20 Sep 1938 a Sittard (Olanda);
  • MARIA CROCIFISSA (al secolo: Rosa Curcio), Fondatrice della Congregazione delle Suore Carmelitane Missionarie di S. Teresa del Bambin Gesù, nata il 30 Jan 1877 ad Ispica (Italia) e morta il 04 Jul 1957 a Santa Marinella (Italia);
  • TERESA DI CALCUTTA (al secolo: Agnese Gonxha Bojaxhiu), Fondatrice delle Congregazioni delle Missionarie e dei Missionari della Carità, nata il 26 Aug 1910 a Skopje (Macedonia) e morta il 05 Sep 1997 a Calcutta (India). — [What is a Saint?] — [Beatification and Canonization]
    Elian's relatives coming out of INS hearing.2001 As the 30-day state of siege declared the previous day in Argentina fails to quell food riots, looting, and peaceful and violent demonstrations protesting against austerity measures, President Fernando de la Rua resigns, following the resignation of Economy Minister Domingo Cavallo and the offer of resignation of the whole cabinet, rejected by de la Rua. In two days, 20 looters have already been killed by shopkeepers defending their stores.
    1999 Ghana becomes the 6th country to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (which has not been ratified nor even signed by the US)
    1999 The US Naturalization and Immigration Service drives Marisleysis Gonzalez to tears [< photo] and dismays Lazaro Gonzalez, by refusing to give them hope that their shipwrecked relative Elian Gonzalez, 6, can stay in the US, as desired by the boy's mother, Elizabet Brotons Rodriguez, who drowned shipwrecked as she was bringing her child out of Cuba to the US. Meanwhile Elian visits a psychiatrist, who finds that it would be traumatic for the child to be taken from his Miami relatives who opened their heart and their home to him. And in Cuba, Castro continues to orchestrate mass demonstration demanding the return of Elian to his father in Cuba, which shows no sign of wanting to go and fetch his son (perhaps Castro does not allow it, so as to exploit fully the propaganda advantage that the misguided Cuban exiles in Miami have handed him).
    1999 The Vermont Supreme Court rules that homosexual couples are entitled to the same benefits and protections as wedded couples of the opposite sex.
    1998 La banda terrorista ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna) difunde un comunicado, el primero desde el anuncio de alto el fuego, en el que acepta negociar con el Gobierno y se compromete a mantener la tregua iniciada en el mes de septiembre.
    1997 Por primera vez la prensa oficial cubana publica un mensaje del Papa a los cubanos con motivo de la celebración de la Navidad.
    1995 NATO assumes peacekeeping in Bosnia
          During an official ceremony in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, General Bernard Janvier, head of the United Nations peacekeeping force, formally transfers military authority in Bosnia to Admiral Leighton Smith, commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Implementation Force. The ceremony clears the path for the deployment of 60'000 NATO troops to enforce the Dayton peace accords, signed in Paris, France, by the leaders of the former Yugoslavia on December 14. The US-backed peace plan was proposed during talks in Dayton, Ohio, earlier in the year, and was reluctantly accepted by the last of the belligerent parties on November 11, ending four years of bloody conflict in the former Yugoslavia. The United Nations peacekeeping mission began in early 1992, and although the UN force proved crucial in distributing humanitarian aid to the impoverished population of Bosnia, it was unable to stop the war. Approximately 25,000 UN peacekeepers served in Bosnia over a three-and-a-half year period, and during this time 110 of these soldiers were killed, 831 wounded, and hundreds were taken hostage. The NATO force, with its US support and focused aim of enforcing the Daytona agreement, proves more successful in maintaining the peace in the war-torn region.
    1994 Newspapers report that an Internet user had taken revenge on a writer who attempted to market his book through Internet discussion groups. Writer Michael Wolff posted 150 messages on Usenet bulletin boards in December 1994. The postings generated controversy because many early Internet users felt that cyberspace should remain free of marketing and advertising. To make the point that marketing messages were not welcome on the Internet, a user calling himself "Cancelmoose" erased all of Wolff's messages with a cancelbot program.
    1991 The Federal Executive Council President of Yugoslavia, Ante Markovic, a Croat, resigns after refusing to approve a federal budget of which four-fifths was earmarked for war against Croatia. Only Serbia and Montenegro remain in Yugoslavia.
    1991 El Parlamento de Guinea Ecuatorial aprueba la ley de amnistía para todos los presos políticos, horas después de reconocer la libertad de reunión y manifestación.
    1990 Pentagon warns Saddam that US air power is ready to attack on 1/15
    1990 Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze resigns.
  • 1989 The US invades Panama to overthrow its dictator.
          US armed forces invade Panama (“Operation Just Cause”) in order to overthrow military dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega, who had been indicted in the US on drug trafficking charges and accused of suppressing democracy in Panama during the last presidential election. The US invasion force includes 13'000 troops who join the approximately 12'000 American soldiers already stationed in the country. Noriega's Panamanian Defense Forces are promptly crushed, but the dictator himself seeks asylum in the Vatican annunciate in Panama City, where he surrenders on 03 January 1990. He is extradited to the US to stand trial on drug trafficking charges and in 1992 is found guilty and sentenced to forty years in a federal prison.
          In 1970, Noriega, a rising figure in the Panamanian military, was recruited by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to assist in the American struggle against the spread of communism and socialism in Central America. During the 1970s, General Noriega became involved in drug trafficking and the US government distanced itself from the general. However, in 1981, Omar Torrijos, the dictatorial president of Panama, was killed in a plane crash and Noriega became the effective ruler of Panama.
          As Panamanian dictator, Noriega supported American initiatives in the Panama Canal Zone and Central America, and in turn was praised by White House officials, although a special Senate committee concluded in 1983 that Panama was a major center for drug trafficking and the laundering of drug funds. In 1984, Noriega employed violence and fraud to force the election of Nicolas Ardito Barletta as his puppet president, defeating the popular candidate Arnulfo Arias, who opposed the domination of Noriega and the US government in Panama. . Still, Noriega enjoyed the continued support of the Reagan administration, which valued his aid in its efforts to overthrow Nicaragua's Sandinista government.
          In 1986, just months before the outbreak of the Iran-Contra affair, allegations arose concerning Noriega's history as a drug trafficker, money launderer, and CIA employee. Most shocking, however, were reports that Noriega had acted as a double agent for Cuba's intelligence agency and the Sandinistas. The US government disowned Noriega, and in 1988 he was indicted by federal grand juries in Tampa and Miami on drug-smuggling and money-laundering charges.
          In May of 1989, Noriega defrauded another presidential election, however this time the victim was Guillermo Endara, a representative of the business opposition. The US government concluded that Endara would be more likely than Noriega to respect American economics interests when control over the Panama Canal transfers to Panama in the year 2000, and so the dictator fell out of favor with the United States. Noriega's long history of drug trafficking and human rights abuse were made public, economic sanctions were imposed against Panama, and Noriega was indicted in the US on criminal charges.
         Tensions between Americans in the Panama Canal Zone and Noriega's Panamanian Defense Forces grew, and in 1989 the dictator annulled a presidential election that would have made Guillermo Endara president. President George H. Bush ordered additional US troops to the Panama Canal Zone, and on 16 December an off-duty US Marine was shot to death at a PDF roadblock. The next day, President Bush authorized "Operation Just Cause" — the US invasion of Panama to overthrow Noriega.
          On 20 December 1989, 9000 US soldiers joined the 12000 US military personnel already in Panama and were met with scattered resistance from the PDF. By 24 December, the PDF was crushed, and the United States held most of the country. Endara was made president by US forces, and he ordered the PDF dissolved. On 03 January 1990, Noriega was arrested by US Drug Enforcement Agency agents and then taken captive to the US.
          The US invasion of Panama cost the lives of only 23 US soldiers and three US civilians. Some 150 PDF soldiers were killed along with an estimated 500 Panamanian civilians. The Organization of American States and the European Parliament both formally protested the invasion, which they condemned as a flagrant violation of international law.
          In 1992, Noriega was found guilty on eight counts of drug trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering, marking the first time in history that a US jury convicted a foreign leader of criminal charges. He was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison.
    1989 El pintor español José María Sicilia, galardonado con el Premio Nacional español de Artes Plásticas.
    1988 Representantes de 49 países firman en Viena la convención contra el narcotráfico.
    1988 Ranasinghe Premadasa, elegido presidente de Sri Lanka.
    1986 White teenagers beat Blacks in Howard Beach NY
    1984 33 unknown Bach keyboard works found in the Yale library
    1983 PLO chairman Yasser Arafat and 4000 loyalists evacuate Lebanon under Israeli pressure and under the protection of the UN.
    1980 USSR formally announces death of Alexei Kosygin
    1978 H.R. Haldeman, Nixon's White House chief of staff released from jail
    1976 Israel's PM Yitzhak Rabin resigns
    1971 Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto assumes power in Pakistan
          Bhutto promises to make a new Pakistan out of the West Wing and to restore national confidence. He conveniently laid the entire blame for the 1971 war and Pakistan's defeat on Yahya Khan and his junta. Asserting the principle of civilian leadership, Bhutto introduced a new constitution with a modified parliamentary and federal system. He attempted to control and reform the civil service and took steps to revitalize a stagnant economy and ameliorate conditions for the poor under the banner of Islamic socialism.
          Bhutto's most visible success, however, was in the international arena, where he employed his diplomatic skills. He negotiated a satisfactory peace settlement with India in 1972, built new links between Pakistan and the oil-exporting Islamic countries to the west, and generally was effective in repairing Pakistan's image in the aftermath of the war. Bhutto's program appeared to be laudable but fell short in performance. His near-monopoly of decision-making power prevented democratic institutions from taking root, and his overreaching ambitions managed in time to antagonize all but his closest friends.
          The PPP (Bhutto's party) manifesto was couched in socialist terms. When Bhutto issued the Economic Reform Order on January 3, 1972, banking and insurance institutions were nationalized, and seventy other industrial enterprises were taken over by the government. The Ministry of Production, which incorporated the Board of Industrial Management, was established to oversee industry. Investment in the public sector increased substantially, and Bhutto maneuvered to break the power of the approximately twenty elite families who had dominated the nation's economy during the Ayub Khan period.
          Trade unions were strengthened, and welfare measures for labor were announced. Although Bhutto's initial zeal diminished as he came face-to-face with economic realities and the shortage of capital, he tried to refurbish his populist image with another spate of nationalizations in 1976.
          Bhutto purged the military ranks of about 1400 officers. He also created a paramilitary force called the Federal Security Force (which functioned almost as his personal bodyguard), a watchdog on the armed forces, and an internal security force. A white paper on defense issued in 1976 firmly subordinated the armed forces to civilian control and gave Bhutto, then also prime minister, the decisive voice in all matters relating to national security. In that role, Bhutto took credit for bringing home more than 90'000 prisoners of war without allowing any of them to come to trial in Bangladesh for war crimes.
          In 1976 Bhutto replaced Tikka Khan, whose term had expired, with General Mohammad Zia ul-Haq as chief of staff of the army. Like Ayub Khan, Zia was appointed over several more senior generals. Also like Ayub Khan, Zia came from a community not heavily represented in the armed forces (the Arains from Punjab) and was thought to be without political ambition (big mistake!). In April 1972, Bhutto lifted martial law and convened the National Assembly, which consisted of members elected from the West Wing in December 1970 (plus two from the East Wing who decided their loyalties were with a united Pakistan).
          The standing controversies about the role of Islam, provincial autonomy, and the form of government--presidential or parliamentary--remained on the agenda. There was much jostling for position among the three major political groups: the PPP, most powerful in Punjab and Sindh; the National Awami Party (NAP) and the Jamiat-ul-Ulama-i-Islam (JUI), both based in the North- West Frontier Province and Balochistan. The provincial assemblies were constituted from those elected in December 1970. There was much tension during the process of drafting a new constitution, especially from members from the North-West Frontier Province and Balochistan. Bhutto reached some accommodation with opposition leaders from those two provinces on the matter of gubernatorial appointment and constitutional principle.
          Pakistan's third constitution was formally submitted on 31 December 1972, approved on 10 April 1973, and promulgated on independence day, August 14, 1973. Although Bhutto campaigned in 1970 for the restoration of a parliamentary system, by 1972 he preferred a presidential system with himself as president. However, in deference to the wishes of the opposition and some in his own cabinet, Bhutto accepted a formal parliamentary system in which the executive was responsible to the legislature. Supposedly in the interests of government stability, provisions were also included that made it almost impossible for the National Assembly to remove the prime minister.
          The 1973 constitution provided for a federal structure in which residuary powers were reserved for the provinces. However, Bhutto dismissed the coalition NAP-JUI ministries in Balochistan and the North- West Frontier Province, revealing his preference for a powerful center without opposition in the provinces. Bhutto's power derived less from the 1973 constitution than from his charismatic appeal to the people and from the vigor of the PPP. Its socialist program and Bhutto's oratory had done much to radicalize the urban sectors in the late 1960s and were responsible for the popular optimism accompanying the restoration of democracy.
          The ideological appeal of the PPP to the masses sat uneasily with the compromises Bhutto reached with the holders of economic and political influence--the landlords and commercial elites. Factionalism and patrimonialism became rife in the PPP, especially in Punjab. The internal cohesion of the PPP and its standing in public esteem were affected adversely by the ubiquitous political and bureaucratic corruption that accompanied state intervention in the economy and, equally, by the rising incidence of political violence, which included beating, arresting, and even murdering opponents.
          The PPP had started as a movement mobilizing people to overthrow a military regime, but in Bhutto's lifetime it failed to change into a political party organized for peaceful functioning in an open polity. Provincial Identity Bhutto's predilection for a strong center and for provincial governments in the hands of the PPP inevitably aroused opposition in provinces where regional and ethnic identity was strong. Feelings of Sindhi solidarity were maintained by Bhutto's personal connections with the feudal leaders (wadera) of Sindh and his ability to manipulate offices and officeholders.
          He did not enjoy the same leverage in the North-West Frontier Province or Balochistan. A long-dormant crisis erupted in Balochistan in 1973 into an insurgency that lasted four years and became increasingly bitter. The insurgency was put down by the Pakistan Army, which employed brutal methods and equipment, including Huey-Cobra helicopter gunships, provided by Iran and flown by Iranian pilots. The deep-seated Baloch nationalism based on tribal identity had international as well as domestic aspects. Divided in the nineteenth century among Iran, Afghanistan, and British India, the Baloch found their aspirations and traditional nomadic life frustrated by the presence of national boundaries and the extension of central administration over their lands. Moreover, many of the most militant Baloch nationalists were also vaguely Marxist-Leninist and willing to risk Soviet protection for an autonomous Balochistan.
          As the insurgency wore on, the influence of a relatively small but disciplined liberation front seemed to increase. Bhutto was able to mobilize domestic support for his drive against the Baloch. Punjab's support was most tangibly represented in the use of the army to put down the insurgency. One of the main Baloch grievances was the influx of Punjabi settlers, miners, and traders into their resource-rich but sparsely populated lands. Bhutto could also invoke the idea of national integration with effect in the aftermath of Bengali secession.
          External assistance to Bhutto was generously given by the shah of Iran, who feared a spread of the insurrection among the Iranian Baloch. Some foreign governments feared that an independent or autonomous Balochistan might allow the Soviet Union to develop and use the port at Gwadar, and no outside power was willing to assist the Baloch openly or to sponsor the cause of Baloch autonomy.
          During the mid-1970s, Afghanistan was preoccupied with its own internal problems and seemingly anxious to normalize relations with Pakistan. India was fearful of further balkanization of the subcontinent after Bangladesh, and the Soviet Union did not wish to jeopardize the leverage it was gaining with Pakistan. However, during the Bhutto regime hostilities in Balochistan were protracted. The succeeding Zia ul-Haq government took a more moderate approach, relying more on economic development to placate the Baloch.
          Bhutto proceeded cautiously in the field of land reform and did not fulfill earlier promises of distributing land to the landless on the scale he had promised, as he was forced to recognize and to cultivate the sociopolitical influence of landowners. However, he did not impede the process of consolidation of tenancy rights and acquisition of mid-sized holdings by servicemen. Punjab was the vital agricultural region of Pakistan; it remained a bastion of support for the government.
          Bhutto specifically targeted the powerful and privileged Civil Service of Pakistan (CSP) and introduced measures of administrative reform with the declared purpose of limiting the paternalistic power of the bureaucracy. The CSP, however, had played the role of guardian alongside the army since independence. Many of its members reacted badly to Bhutto's politicizing appointments, for which patronage seemed a more important criterion than merit or seniority.
          Relations with India were, at best, uneven during the Bhutto period. He accomplished the return of the prisoners of war through the Simla Agreement of 1972, but no settlement of the key problem of Kashmir was possible beyond an agreement that any settlement should be peaceful. Bhutto reacted strongly to the detonation of a nuclear device by India in 1974 and pledged that Pakistan would match that development even if Pakistanis had to "eat grass" to cover the cost.
          Bhutto claimed success for his economic policies. The gross national product (GNP ) and the rate of economic growth climbed. Inflation fell from 25 percent in fiscal year 1972 to 6 percent in FY 1976, although other economic measures he introduced did not perform as well.
          Bhutto pointed out that his foreign policy had brought Pakistan prestige in the Islamic world, peace if not friendship with India, and self-respect in dealings with the great powers. He felt assured of victory in any election. Therefore, with commitment to a constitutional order at stake, in January 1977 he announced he would hold national and provincial assembly elections in March. The response of the opposition to this news was vigorous. Nine political parties ranging across the ideological spectrum formed a united front--the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA). Fundamentalist Muslims were satisfied by the adoption of Nizam-i-Mustafa, meaning "Rule of the Prophet," as the front's slogan. Modern secular elements, however, respected the association of Air Marshal Asghar Khan.
          The PNA ran candidates for almost all national and provincial seats. As curbs on the press and political activity were relaxed for the election campaign, an apparently strong wave of support for the PNA swept Pakistan's cities. This prompted a whirlwind tour of the country by Bhutto, with all his winning charm in the forefront. In the background lurked indirect curbs on free expression as well as political gangsterism. National Assembly election results were announced on March 7, proclaiming the PPP the winner with 155 seats versus thirty-six seats for the PNA.
          Expecting trouble, Bhutto invoked Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which restricted assembly for political reasons. The PNA immediately challenged the election results as rigged and demanded a new election--not a recount. Bhutto refused, and a mass protest movement was launched against him. Religious symbols were used by both sides to mobilize agitation; for example, Bhutto imposed prohibitions on the consumption of alcoholic beverages and on gambling. Despite talks between Bhutto and opposition leaders, the disorders persisted as a multitude of frustrations were vented. The army intervened on July 5, took all political leaders including Bhutto into custody, and proclaimed martial law.
    1968 Treasury Secretary’s last day on the job
          Henry Fowler’s last day as the Secretary of the Treasury. A Yale Law School grad and government servant since the mid-1930s, Folwer apprenticed as the Under Secretary of the Treasury for three years before rising to the department's top spot on April 1, 1965. During his tenure, Fowler helped give birth to a new international monetary reserve system, alternately known as "Special Drawing Rights.” President Lyndon Johnson gave a special nod to Fowler's work on SDR, hailing the Secretary as "...the grand architect of the most significant reforms in the international monetary system since Bretton Woods.” Fowler also helped establish a "two-tier" gold system, which was unveiled in 1968.
    1967 US President promotes Vietnam War in Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, Vatican.
          President Lyndon B. Johnson attends a memorial service for Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt in Melbourne and then visits Vietnam, Thailand, and the Vatican. Arriving in Thailand on December 23, Johnson visited the US air base at Korat, where he told the US pilots there that the United States and its allies were "defeating this aggression.” The president then visited US combat troops in Cam Ranh, South Vietnam, and told them that the enemy "knows that he has met his master in the field.” Next, Johnson flew to Rome and met with Pope Paul VI for over an hour with only interpreters present. A Vatican statement said the Pope advanced proposals toward attaining peace in Vietnam during the meeting.
    1965 In the largest US drug bust to date, 209 pounds of heroin are seized in Georgia.
    1963 Four thousand cross the Berlin Wall (1st time it opens to West Berliners) to visit relatives under a 17 day Christmas accord.
    1963 Berlin Wall opened for first time
          More than two years after the Berlin Wall was constructed by East Germany to prevent its citizens from fleeing its communist regime, nearly 4000 West Berliners are allowed to cross into East Berlin to visit relatives, under a 17 day Christmas accord. Under an agreement reached between East and West Berlin, over 170'000 passes were eventually issued to West Berlin citizens, each pass allowing a one-day visit to Communist East Berlin.
         The day is marked by moments of poignancy and propaganda. The construction of the Berlin Wall in August 1961 separated families and friends. Tears, laughter, and other outpourings of emotions characterized the reunions that took place as mothers and fathers, sons and daughters met again, if only for a short time. Cold War tensions were never far removed from the scene, however. Loudspeakers in East Berlin greeted visitors with the news that they were now in "the capital of the German Democratic Republic," a political division that most West Germans refused to accept. Each visitor was also given a brochure that explained that the wall was built to "protect our borders against the hostile attacks of the imperialists.” Decadent western culture, including "Western movies" and "gangster stories," were flooding into East Germany before the wall sealed off such dangerous trends. On the West Berlin side, many newspapers berated the visitors, charging that they were pawns of East German propaganda. Editorials argued that the communists would use this shameless ploy to gain West German acceptance of a permanent division of Germany. The visits, and the high-powered rhetoric that surrounded them, were stark reminders that the Cold War involved very human, often quite heated, emotions.
    1962 In its first free election in 38 years, the Dominican Republic chooses leftist Juan Bosch Gavino as president.
    1960 National Liberation Front is formed by guerrillas fighting the Diem regime in South Vietnam.
    1960 La Fundación Juan March dona, por 10 millones de pesetas, a la Biblioteca Nacional el códice del Cantar del Mío Cid. [otro sitio Cantar del Mío Cid -1- -2- -3-] [un tercer sitio: Cantar del Mío Cid]
    1948 US Supreme Court announces that it has no jurisdiction to hear the appeals of Japanese war criminals sentenced by the International Military Tribunal.
    1946 Ho Chi Minh calls all Vietnamese to fight the French.
          The morning after Viet Minh forces under Ho Chi Minh launched a night revolt in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, French colonial troops crack down on the communist rebels. Ho and his soldiers immediately fled the city to regroup in the countryside. That evening, the communist leader issued a proclamation that read: "All the Vietnamese must stand up to fight the French colonials to save the fatherland. Those who have rifles will use their rifles; those who have swords will use their swords; those who have no swords will use spades, hoes, or sticks. Everyone must endeavor to oppose the colonialists and save his country. Even if we have to endure hardship in the resistance war, with the determination to make sacrifices, victory will surely be ours." The First Indochina War had begun.
          Born Nguyen Tat Thanh in Hoang Tru, Vietnam, on 19 May 1890, Ho Chi Minh left his homeland in 1911 as a cook on a French steamer, under the name Ba. After more than 3 years as a seaman, he lived in London and then moved to France (1917-1923), where he became a socialist activist, under the name Nguyen Ai Quoc (Nguyen the Patriot), and then one of the first members of the French Communist Party at its founding in 1920.
          He later traveled to the Soviet Union, where he studied revolutionary tactics and took an active role in the Communist International. In December 1924, he went to China, under the name Ly Thuy, and there he set about organizing exiled Vietnamese Communists. Expelled by China in April 1927, he traveled extensively before returning to Vietnam in January 1941. There, he organized a Vietnamese guerrilla organization--the Viet Minh--to fight for Vietnamese independence. Japan occupied French Indochina in 1940 and collaborated with French officials loyal to France's Vichy regime. Ho, meanwhile, made contact with the Allies and aided operations against the Japanese in South China. In early 1945, Japan ousted the French administration in Vietnam and executed numerous French officials.
          When Japan surrendered to the Allies on 02 September 1945, Ho Chi Minh felt emboldened enough to declare the independence of Vietnam from France. On 06 October French general Leclerc landed in Saigon and within three months had control of South Vietnam. Negotiations between Ho Chi Minh and the French began in late October 1945, leading to an agreement on 06 March 1946 for Vietnam to be a free state within the French Union. This was unsatisfactory to extremists on both sides.
          From 20 to 23 November 1946, almost 6000 Vietnamese were killed when a French cruiser fired on Haiphong after a clash between French and Vietnamese soldiers. In response, the Viet Minh launched an attack against the French in Hanoi in December 1946. The French quickly struck back, and Ho and his followers found refuge in a remote area of northern Vietnam. The Viet Minh, undefeated and widely supported by the Vietnamese people, waged an increasingly effective guerrilla war against the French.
          The conflict stretched on for eight years, with Mao Zedong's Chinese communists supporting the Viet Minh, and the United States aiding the French and anti-communist Vietnamese forces. On 07 May 1954, general Giap inflicted a decisive defeat on the French at Dien Bien Phu, in northwest Vietnam, prompting an 8-nation conference in Geneva concluding on 21 July 1954. Vietnam was divided along the 17th parallel, with Ho in command of North Vietnam and Emperor Bao Dai in control of South Vietnam.
          In the late July 1959, Ho Chi Minh's party decided that North Vietnam would intervene in support of the Viet Cong Communist guerrilla movement in the South. On 20 December 1960, North Vietnam announced the formation of its National Front for the Liberation of the South. North Vietnam and the Viet Cong successfully opposed a series of ineffectual US-backed South Vietnam regimes and beginning in 1964 withstood a decade-long military intervention by the United States, known as the Vietnam War in America but also called the Second Indochina War.
          Ho Chi Minh died on 02 September 1969, 25 years after declaring Vietnam's independence from France and nearly six years before his forces succeeded in reuniting North and South Vietnam under Communist rule. Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, was renamed Ho Chi Minh City after it came under the control of the communists in 1975.
    1945 Tire rationing in the US ends as World War II shortages ease.
    1944 Battle of Bastogne, Nazis surround 101st Airborne (NUTS!)
    1943 Soviet forces halt a German army trying to relieve the besieged city of Stalingrad.
    1941 The Flying Tigers, American pilots in China, enter combat against the Japanese over Kunming.
    1941 Hitler orders: No retreat in Russia!
          Having taken over the day before as commander in chief of the German army, Adolf Hitler informs General Franz Halder that there will be no retreating from the Russian front near Moscow. “The will to hold out must be brought home to every unit!” Halder was also informed that he could stay on as chief of the general army staff if he so chose, but only with the understanding that Hitler alone was in charge of the army's movements and strategies. Halder accepted the terms, but it was another blow to their already tense relationship. Halder had been at odds with the Fuhrer from the earliest days of the Nazi regime, when he spoke disparagingly of Hitler's leadership ability and feared that "this madman" would plunge Germany into war. Promoted to chief of staff in September 1938, Halder began concocting an assassination scheme shortly thereafter along with other military officers who feared another European war over the Sudetenland crisis, when Hitler demanded the German-speaking population of Czechoslovakia-and the territory in which they resided-be made part of a greater Germany. Only a "peaceful" resolution to the crisis-the forced diplomatic capitulation of Czechoslovakia-killed the conspiracy. With Hitler's popularity among the German people growing, and the timidity of the then-commander in chief of the army, General Walter von Brauchitsch, Halder learned to live with the "madman" in power. But Halder would continue to butt heads with Hitler, urging that military strategy be left to the general staff when Hitler wanted to impose his imperious will on the army. But as the offensive against Moscow collapsed, an offensive which Halder had supported, and for which he began to agonize over, given the number of German dead, Halder could only concede to Hitler's seizing of power, if just to retain his position on the general staff. By staying on, Halder hoped to be able to protect the remaining German troops on the Eastern front from the consequences of Hitler's obsession over defeating the Soviets. But Hitler dismissed Halder during another disastrous Russian offensive, this one against Stalingrad in 1942.
    1938 V.K. Zworykin receives patent on the Iconoscope TV system
    1933 The German Nazi government announces 400'000 citizens are to be sterilized because of hereditary defects.
    1930 Thousands of Spaniards sign a revolutionary manifesto.
    1930 Francis Chichester, aviador y marino inglés, comienza un viaje en solitario desde el Reino Unido hasta Australia.
    1924 Adolf Hitler is released from prison after serving less than one year of a five year sentence for treason.
    1922 14 republics form Union of Soviet Socialistic Republics (USSR)
    1913 La Joconde est récupérée. Presque deux années et demie se sont écoulées depuis ce funeste beau matin d'été où la Joconde fut volée. Deux années de fastidieuse enquête jusqu'au miracle Florentin. La Joconde était retrouvé en parfait état. Vicenzo Perrugia, le voleur voulait réparer une injustice et la rendre à l'Italie sa terre natale.
    1909 Una comisión de expertos rechaza en Copenhague la reivindicación del descubrimiento del Polo Norte por Frederick Albert Cook.
    1904 The Russians at Port Arthur capitulate to the Japanese.
    1893 First state anti-lynching statue approved, in Georgia
    1879 Tom Edison privately demonstrates his incandescent light, at Menlo Park, New Jersey.
    1872 Phileas Fogg completes around world trip, according to Verne's Le Tour du Monde en 80 Jours:

    ... il était huit heures trente-cinq quand il [Passepartout] sortit de la maison du révérend. Mais dans quel état! Les cheveux en désordre, sans chapeau, courant, courant, comme on n'a jamais vu courir de mémoire d'homme, renversant les passants, se précipitant comme une trombe sur les trottoirs.
          En trois minutes, il était de retour ..., et il tombait, essoufflé, dans la chambre de Mr. Fogg.
          Il ne pouvait parler. “Qu'y a-t-il?" demanda Mr. Fogg. “Mon maître... balbutia Passepartout... mariage... impossible.”
          "Impossible... pour demain.”
          "Parce que demain... c'est dimanche!"
          "Lundi," répondit Mr. Fogg. “Non... aujourd'hui... samedi.”
          "Samedi? impossible!"
          "Si, si, si, si! s'écria Passepartout. Vous vous êtes trompé d'un jour ! Nous sommes arrivés vingt-quatre heures en avance... mais il ne reste plus que dix minutes!...”
          Passepartout avait saisi son maître au collet, et il l'entraînait avec une force irrésistible.
          Phileas Fogg, ainsi enlevé, sans avoir le temps de réfléchir, quitta sa chambre, quitta sa maison, sauta dans un cab, promit cent livres au cocher, et après avoir écrasé deux chiens et accroché cinq voitures, il arriva au Reform-Club.
          L'horloge marquait huit heures quarante-cinq, quand il parut dans le grand salon...
          Phileas Fogg avait accompli ce tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours!...
          Phileas Fogg avait gagné son pari de vingt mille livres.
          Et maintenant, comment un homme si exact, si méticuleux, avait-il pu commettre cette erreur de jour? Comment se croyait-il au samedi soir, 21 décembre, quand il débarqua à Londres, alors qu'il n'était qu'au vendredi, 20 décembre, soixante dix neuf jours seulement après son départ?
          Voici la raison de cette erreur. Elle est fort simple.
          Phileas Fogg avait, "sans s'en douter", gagné un jour sur son itinéraire, -- et cela uniquement parce qu'il avait fait le tour du monde en allant vers l'est, et il eût, au contraire, perdu ce jour en allant en sens inverse, soit vers l'ouest.
          En effet, en marchant vers l'est, Phileas Fogg allait au-devant du soleil, et, par conséquent les jours diminuaient pour lui d'autant de fois quatre minutes qu'il franchissait de degrés dans cette direction. Or, on compte trois cent soixante degrés sur la circonférence terrestre, et ces trois cent soixante degrés, multipliés par quatre minutes, donnent précisément vingt-quatre heures, -- c'est-à-dire ce jour inconsciemment gagné. En d'autres termes, pendant que Phileas Fogg, marchant vers l'est, voyait le soleil passer quatre-vingts fois au méridien, ses collègues restés à Londres ne le voyaient passer que soixante-dix-neuf fois. C'est pourquoi, ce jour-là même, qui était le samedi et non le dimanche, comme le croyait Mr. Fogg, ceux-ci l'attendaient dans le salon du Reform-Club.
          Et c'est ce que la fameuse montre de Passepartout -- qui avait toujours conservé l'heure de Londres -- eût constaté si, en même temps que les minutes et les heures, elle eût marqué les jours.

    1864 Confederates evacuate Savannah, Georgia.
    1862 Confederate cavalry led by General Earl Van Dorn raids Holly Springs, Mississippi
    1862 Reb cavalry raid on Holly Springs
          Confederate General Earl Buck Van Dorn (born 20 Sep 1820) thwarts Union General Ulysses S. Grant's first attempt to capture Vicksburg, Mississippi, when Van Dorn attacks Grant's supplies at Holly Springs, Tennessee. Grant planned a two-pronged attack on the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River. He would take a force from western Tennessee to approach Vicksburg from the interior of Mississippi. Meanwhile, General William T. Sherman would lead an army down the Mississippi River for an attack from the north. Grant said, “We can go as far as supplies can go.”
          The plan started on a good note--Grant's army pushed aside Confederates in northern Mississippi. In response, Confederate cavalry colonel John Griffith suggested attacking Grant's supply line at Holly Springs, and he recommended Van Dorn for the mission. To that point, Van Dorn had done little to build his reputation. He lost the Battle of Pea Ridge and the Battle of Corinth earlier in 1862, and he was known for his drunkenness and tendency to cavort with prostitutes.
          Van Dorn gathered three cavalry brigades and left Grenada, Tennessee, on 17 December On 20 December, Van Dorn fell on the Union supply depot at Holly Springs, driving the Yankee defenders away and capturing materials. What could not be carried was destroyed. Van Dorn remained in the area a few more days, cutting rail and telegraph lines, before fleeing in the face of pursuing Union cavalry. The Confederates rode 800 km in two weeks, returning on 28 December after successfully disrupting Grant's campaign. The raid was the highlight of Van Dorn's military career. He was murdered on 07 May 1863 by Dr. George Peters, who claimed that the general was having an affair with his wife, though the matter remains unclear to this date..
    1861 Engagement at Dranesville, Virginia
    1860 South Carolina secedes from the Union
          In response to the victory of Republican Abraham Lincoln in the presidential election six weeks before, South Carolina becomes the first Southern state to secede from the United States. As early as 1858, the ongoing conflict between the North and South over the issue of slavery had led Southern leadership to discuss a unified separation from the United States. By 1860, the majority of the slave states were publicly threatening secession if the Republicans, the anti-slavery party, were elected to the presidency. Following Lincoln's victory over the divided Democratic Party on November 7, South Carolina immediately initiated secession proceedings and, on December 20, its legislature passed 169-0 the "Ordinance of Secession," which declared that "the Union now subsisting between South Carolina and other states, under the name of the United States of America, is hereby dissolved.” After the declaration, South Carolina set about seizing forts, arsenals, and other strategic locations within the state. When Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated on March 4, 1861, six more states had formally seceded from the Union, and federal troops held only Fort Sumter in South Carolina, Fort Pickens off the Florida coast, and a handful of minor outposts in the South. On April 12, 1861, the American Civil War began when Confederate shore batteries under General P. G. T. Beauregard opened fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina's Charleston Harbor.
    La Caroline du Sud fait sécession
          A la fin du XVIIIe siècle, l'invention d'une égreneuse à coton donne un coup de fouet à la culture de celui-ci. La précieuse fibre remplace le tabac comme source de richesse au sud des Etats-Unis. Elle entraîne une extension de l'esclavage, les planteurs ayant besoin de beaucoup de main-d'oeuvre pour la cueillette.
          C'est ainsi que les intérêts économiques du sud des Etats-Unis en viennent à s'opposer à ceux du nord et entrer en contradiction avec les principes sur lesquels se fonde la démocratie américaine. L'opposition entre le Nord - industriel, moderniste et affairiste - et le Sud - agraire, traditionnaliste, plus raffiné et aristocratique, plus indolent aussi - va se cristalliser au cours du XIXe siècle sur la question de l'esclavage.
          En 1860, un anti-esclavagiste convaincu, le républicain Abraham Lincoln, est élu président des Etats-Unis avec 40% des voix, grâce à la division du parti démocrate. La Caroline du Sud y voit un motif de faire sécession. Elle veut maintenir l'esclavage qui fait la prospérité de ses plantations de coton, les grandes comme les petites. Elle veut plus encore, préserver son mode de vie, sa culture et ses traditions. Le Parlement de Virginie vote la sécession à l'unanimité le 20 décembre 1860. Cette initiative est rapidement imitée par dix autres Etats du Sud. Le président Lincoln, qui veut avant toute chose préserver l'union, n'hésite pas à violer ses convictions anti-esclavagistes. Il propose aux Etats du Sud de maintenir l'esclavage sous certaines conditions. Mais cette ultime ouverture est rejetée par les Sudistes et la guerre de Sécession commence. Baptisée Civil War par les Américains, elle déchirera les Etats-Unis pendant 4 ans et fera plus de 600.000 morts, soit davantage qu'aucune autre des guerres qui ont impliqué le pays. La guerre de Sécession s'achèvera par la ruine du Sud, l'abolition de l'esclavage… et la consolidation des institutions américaines.
    Début de la Sécession
          Au début du XIXe siècle, l'agriculture de plantation, fondée sur une main-d'œuvre asservie (esclaves noirs), poursuivit son développement. L'État défendit l'esclavage et s'opposa à toute ingérence du pouvoir fédéral. Le sénateur John C. Calhoun se fit le champion de la défense des libertés et des intérêts des États du Sud. La Caroline-du-Sud fut le premier Etat à faire sécession les 19 et 20 décembre 1860. L'attaque de Fort Sumter, à Charleston Harbor, le 12 avril 1861 (cfr Chroniques de cette date) déclencha la guerre de Sécession. Celle-ci causa de très graves dommages. Les forces de l'Union, sous le commandement du général William T. Sherman, envahirent la Caroline-du-Sud en 1865, incendièrent Columbia et laissèrent derrière elles un État dévasté. La Caroline-du-Sud fut réadmise dans l'Union en 1868. La période de la reconstruction fut difficile, marquée par les désordres et la corruption. Elle prit fin avec le retrait des troupes fédérales en 1877. La Caroline-du-Sud, à l'image d'autres États du Sud, comme le Mississippi et la Géorgie, résista fortement au mouvement des Noirs en faveur des droits civiques, dans les années 1950 et 1960. En 1955-1956, l'Assemblée législative promulgua même une série de mesures discriminatoires. Finalement, la législation et les tribunaux fédéraux, poussés par la violente contestation des Noirs, obtinrent leur intégration dans les établissements publics dans les années 1960.
    1861 English transports loaded with 8000 troops set sail for Canada so that troops are available if the "Trent Affair" is not settled without war.
    1848 Louis-Napoléon prête serment: " En présence de Dieu et devant le peuple français représenté par l'Assemblée nationale, je jure de rester fidèle à la république démocratique, une et indivisible, et de remplir tous les devoirs que m'impose la Constitution.”
    1845 La république du Texas décide de faire partie de l'Union. Ce vaste territoire est le plus grand des États Unis d'Amérique après l'Alaska, il a appartenu successivement à l'Espagne, la France et au Mexique. Le Texas est maintenant un état des plus riches où abondent les puits de pétrole et les industries ; on y élève aussi d'immenses troupeaux de boeufs.
    1820 Missouri imposes a $1 annual tax on unmarried men frow 21 to 50 years of age.
    1803 The Louisiana Purchase
         The US and French governments put the finishing touches on the Louisiana Purchase. For $15 million, the US acquires an area that effectively doubles the size of the nation. The bargain price reflects French fears that their army, already occupied with the Napoleonic Wars, would not be able to stave off revolutionaries in New Orleans. US officials, meanwhile, coveted New Orleans as a duty-free port for American goods that were about to be shipped. Of course, the resulting deal provided the US with much more than a port; indeed, the nation now owned the land that would become Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, the Dakotas, as well as chunks of Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and of course, Louisiana.
          France formally transfers authority over the territory of Louisiana, encompassing the entire region of the Mississippi-Missouri river valleys, to the United States. In 1800, Spain ceded the territory to France in the secret treaty of San Ildefonso, however Napoleonic France, busy elsewhere in the world, did not begin administering the territory until just before its transfer to the US In its first territorial acquisition since the end of the Revolutionary War, the American government paid France approximately fifteen million dollars for some 2'145'000 square kilometers of land. The massive land purchase, known as the Louisiana Purchase, nearly doubles the size of the young republic, and is Thomas Jefferson's most notable achievement as president.
         Without a shot fired, the French hand over New Orleans and Lower Louisiana to the United States.
          In April 1803, the United States purchased from France the 2'145'000 square kilometers that had formerly been French Louisiana. The area was divided into two territories: the northern half was Louisiana Territory, the largely unsettled (though home to many Indians) frontier section that was later explored by Lewis and Clark; and the southern Orleans Territory, which was populated by Europeans.
          Unlike the sprawling and largely unexplored northern territory (which eventually encompassed a dozen large states), Orleans Territory was a small, densely populated region that was like a little slice of France in the New World. With borders that roughly corresponded to the modern state of Louisiana, Orleans Territory was home to about 50,000 people, a primarily French population that had been living under the direction of a Spanish administration.
          These former citizens of France knew almost nothing about American laws and institutions, and the challenging task of bringing them into the American fold fell to the newly appointed governor of the region, twenty-eight-year-old William Claiborne. Historians have found no real evidence that the French of Orleans Territory resented their transfer to American control, though one witness claimed that when the French tri-color was replaced by the Stars and Stripes in New Orleans, the citizens wept. The French did resent that their new governor was appointed rather than elected, and they bridled when the American government tried to make English the official language and discouraged the use of French.
          It didn't help matters that young Claiborne knew neither French nor Spanish. Claiborne soon found himself immersed in a complex sea of ethnic tensions and political unrest that he little understood, and in January he wrote to Thomas Jefferson that the population was "uninformed, indolent, luxurious-in a word, ill-fitted to be useful citizens for a Republic.” To his dismay, Claiborne found that most of his time was spent not governing, but dealing with an unrelenting procession of crises like riots, robberies, and runaway slaves.
          Despite his concerns, Claiborne knew that somehow these people had to be made into American citizens, and over time he gradually made progress in bringing the citizenry into the Union. In December 1804 he was happy to report to Jefferson that "they begin to view their connexion with the United States as permanent and to experience the benefits thereof.” Proof of this came eight years later, when the people of Orleans Territory drafted a constitution and successfully petitioned to become the eighteenth state in the Union. Despite Claiborne's doubts about whether the French would ever truly fit into their new nation, the approval of that petition meant that the people of Louisiana were officially US citizens.
    1790 The first successful cotton mill in the United States began operating at Pawtucket, R.I.
    1699 Peter the Great orders Russian New Year changed — 01 Sep to 01 Jan.
    1669 1st jury trial in Delaware; Marcus Jacobson condemned for insurrection and sentenced to flogging, branding, and slavery
    1664 Fouquet condamné
          Louis XIV n'a pas toléré l'hommage fastueux que son surintendant à voulu donner au roi lors d'une fête donnée le 17 Aug 1661 au château de Vaux-le-Vicomte. Le 05 septembre 1661, d'Artagnan (le vrai) et ses mousquetaires ont arrêté Nicolas Fouquet à Nantes, où le roi préside les Etats de Bretagne. Le procès s'achève au bout de trois ans. Fouquet est condamné ce jour pour abus, malversations, lèse-majesté et à la confiscation de ses biens au bénéfice de la couronne, mais aussi au bannissement à vie. Le roi aggrave sa peine en la transformant en détention perpétuelle. La forteresse de Pignerol est la première prison de Fouquet. On ignore où et quand il termina ses jours, une légende en fait l'un des hommes mystérieux porteur d'un masque de fer.
    1606 Virginia Company settlers leave London to in the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery. They would start the first permanent English settlement in America: Jamestown.
    1592 Cédula de Felipe II declarando ciudad a La Habana.
    1494 Los Reyes Católicos dictan el fuero para Las Palmas, capital del archipiélago canario.
    1192 Richard Cœur de Lion est fait prisonnier par l’empereur Léopold. De retour de la IIIe Croisade, le roi a beau se déguiser et voyager avec seulement deux compagnons, il est reconnu et arrêté. Son absence prolongée délivre ses fidèles de leur promesse de ne pas servir son frère Jean sans Terre pendant au moins 3 ans.
    Deaths which occurred on a December 20:
    2002 Yitzhak Arameh, shot from ambush at 10:30, near Gush Katif block of enclave settlements, Gaza Strip, while driving toward the Afula area with his wife and their six children, none of whom is hurt. He was since 1995 the rabbi of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish enclave settlement Netzer Hazani.
    2002 Abdul Aziz Mir, 40, by a bullet in the chest, in Srinagar, Indian-occupied Kashmir, as he came out of a mosque after offering Friday prayers. He was of the ruling Popular Democratic Party, a member of the “Jammu and Kashmir” legislative assembly, the first one to be killed since the Mufti government of the state came to power in October 2002.
    2002: At least 18 policemen, in an ambush (started before midnight 19 December) on a police convoy in the Sanda forests, near Rourkhela, in Jharkhand state (India), south of Manoharpur in its West Singhbhum district bordering Orissa state, by guerrillas of the Maoist Communist Center guerillas. More than 20 policemen are wounded. This is retaliation for the 18 December 2002 killing by police of the MCC's top leader, Ishwari Mahato. More than 6000 deaths have resulted in five states of south and east India from these rebels' fighting, started in 1981. They mostly target rich landowners and police, as exploiters of farm workers. They are allied with other rebels, the People's War Group. One of the oldest demands for a separate state in India was fulfilled when the Lok Sabha (Parliament) passed the Bihar Reorganization Bill on 02 August 2000 to create, effective 15 November 2000, the state of Jharkhand, which comprises 22 districts of the erstwhile Bihar (18 at the time of separation). With an area of 74'677 sq km, the new state is bordered by Bihar, Chattisgarh, Orissa, and West Bengal to its north, west, south and east. The former Bihar had 35% in what is now Jharkhand, and derived 63% of its revenues from there, a poor region rich in forests and minerals..
    2001 Léopold Sédar Senghor, poet, Senegal's first president.
         Senghor, 95, dies at his home in Normandy, where he had been living for a number of years. Senghor was known to have had heart trouble. Senghor often told audiences outside his homeland that he'd prefer to be remembered as a poet rather than a statesman.
          When he was elected president after Senegal's independence from France in 1960, he pledged to govern honestly and with justice, but added: “A country cannot be governed without prison walls.” He decried what he saw as the arrogance displayed by younger leaders of some other African countries. Though his impassioned African nationalism emerged in all his poetry and his political action, he refused to reject the European culture brought to Africa by colonial powers.
          Senghor's poems were written both in French and his native Serere dialect (Éthiopiques, 1956 — Nocturnes, 1961). He frequently advocated a “cultural merger” and was a pillar of the Francophone movement to unite the world's wholly or partly French-speaking peoples.
          Some militant Africans regarded him as a neo-colonialist and a puppet of French interests. He shrugged off their attacks, pointing to Senegal's stability, progress and peace in a region wracked by coups and tribal conflict.
          Long before he became active in politics — eventually becoming a member of the French parliament, a French government minister, and later president of Senegal, Senghor tried to awaken African consciousness and dispel feelings of inferiority. He coined the word “negritude” as a proud slogan of African cultural tradition, and conceived the first World Festival of Negro Arts in his capital, Dakar.
          Senghor was born in the coastal region of Joal, south of Dakar, on 09 October 1906. His father, a prosperous trader, was a Serere, one of the smaller groups in the tribal patchwork of Senegal. His roots, without links to major groups competing for power, helped Senghor keep the peace after French colonial rule ended in 1959.
          A Roman Catholic in a mainly Muslim country, he studied in a convent school in Senegal and won a scholarship to the lycée Louis-Le-Grand in Paris. One of his classmates, Georges Pompidou, was to become president of France and a lifelong friend. Another was Claude Cahour, the daughter of a French country doctor whom Senghor introduced to Pompidou. She became the future French president's wife.
          Senghor's studies concentrated on classical languages and literature. He was professor of French in several French cities from 1935 to 1948. He took French citizenship during World War II, and joined the French army as a volunteer. However, he was taken prisoner and spent much of the war in a German prison camp where he wrote some of his most poignant poems.
          Chants d'ombres, his first volume of poetry, was published in 1948. One early poem describes his desire to “rip down all the Banania posters from the walls of France.” Banania was a brand of breakfast drink whose symbol was a laughing caricature of an African saying “Y'a bon Banania.”.
          While in France, Senghor became involved with the French branch of the Socialist International. On his return to Africa, he formed his own Senegalese Democratic Bloc, the start of his attempt to create African social democracy.
          When the constitution of the French Fourth Republic was approved after the war, allowing for African representation in parliament, Senghor was elected deputy from Senegal. He served from 1946 until 1958. Senegal achieved independence from France in April 1960, and Senghor was elected later that year without opposition as his country's first president.
          After crushing an attempted coup by his prime minister, Mamadou Dia, in 1962, Senghor tolerated no overt challenge to his otherwise moderate, pro-Western policies. His political success was due largely to his strength in the countryside. His party gradually did away with or absorbed opposition parties and he easily won re-election without opposition in 1963, 1968 and 1973.
          Senghor was adroit at co-opting opposition members, but did not hesitate to sack or imprison stubborn opponents. His critics say the continuous presence of French troops in Senegal provided a valuable buffer.
          In 1967, a man said to have been linked with Dia tried to assassinate Senghor outside Dakar's main mosque. The gun failed to go off and the president escaped unhurt.
          In 1971, Senghor led four African presidents in an abortive Mideast mediation effort. Under Arab pressure, he later cut ties with Israel, one of the last black African leaders to do so. Senghor's last years in power were clouded by a declining peanut-based economy, pressure for political reform, and the irritant of a Libyan-financed militant Islamic movement.
          Senghor broke Senegal's relations with Libya in July 1980. Five months later, he resigned in favor of the successor he groomed, Abdou Diouf. He was the first African president to voluntarily surrender power. During his last years, Senghor spent more and more time at his second home in Normandy. He divorced his first wife and later married a Frenchwoman, Colette Hubert. They had one son, Philippe.
    [photo below: Senghor on a visit to the UN's FAO]
    Senghor at FAO
    Un poème de Senghor.
    (dans Ethiopiques)
    Sall ! je proclame ton nom Sall ! du Fouta-Damga au Cap-Vert
    Le lac Baïdé faisait nos pieds plus frais, et maigres nous marchions par le Pays-haut du Dyêri.
    Et soufflaient les passions une tornade fauve aux piquants des gommiers. Où la tendresse du vert au Printemps ?
    Yeux et narines rompus par Vent d'Est, nos gorges comme des citernes sonnaient creux à l'appel immense de la poitrine. C'était grande pitié.
    Nous marchions par le Dyêri au pas du boeuf-porteur — l'aile du cheval bleu est pour les Maîtres-de-Saint-Louis - mais nos pieds dans la poussière des morts et nos têtes parées de nulle poudre d'or.
    Or les scorpions furent de sable, les caméléons de toutes couleurs. Or les rires des singes secouaient l'arbre des palabres, comme peau de panthère les embûches zébraient la nuit.
    Mille embûches des puissants: chaque touffe d'herbes cache un ennemi.
    Nous avons ceint nos reins, affermi les remparts de notre coeur, nous avons repoussé lances et roses.
    Roses et roses les navettes qui tissaient lêlés et yêlas, exquis les éloges des vierges quand la terre est froide à minuit.
    Et leur tête était d'or, la lune éclairait le poème à contre-jour.
    Belle ô Khasonkée parmi tes égales, à grande libellule les ailes déployées et lentement virant au flanc de la colline de Bakel
    Jusqu'à ce mouvement soudain qui te brisait le cou, comme une syncope à battre mon coeur.
    Ton sourire était doux sous paupières déclives, et grondaient les tam-tams peints de couleurs furieuses.
    Ah ! ce coeur de poète, ah ! ce coeur de femme et de lion, quelle douleur à le dompter.
    Or nous avons marché tels de blancs initiés. Pour toute nourriture le lait clair, et pour toute parole la rumination du mot essentiel.
    Et lorsque le temps fut venu, je tendis un cou dur gonflé de veines comme une pile formidable.
    C'était l'heure de la rosée, le premier chant du coq avait percé la brume, fait retourner les hommes des milices dans leur quatrième sommeil.
    Les chiens jaunes n'avaient pas aboyé.
    Et contre les portes de bronze je proférai le mot explosif teddungal !
    Teddungal ngal du Fouta-Damga au Cap-Vert. Ce fut un grand déchirement des apparences, et les hommes restitués à leur noblesse, les choses à leur vérité.
    Vert et vert Wâlo et Fouta, pagne fleuri de lacs et de moissons.
    De longs troupeaux coulaient, ruisseaux de lait dans la vallée.
    Honneur au Fouta rédimé ! Honneur au Royaume d'enfance !
    2000 Juan Miguel Gervilla, de 38 años de edad, guardia urbano, asesinanado por dos miembros de ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna), en una céntrica calle de Barcelona..
    2000 Hani Youssef al-Sufi, 12, Palestinian, during a fierce gun battle between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen in the Rafah district of the Gaza Strip near the Egyptian border.
    2000 Rifaat Feisal Abu Marzouk, 28, Palestinian, as the fire truck in which he is riding is riddled with gunfire from Israeli troops at the intersection of the main Gaza Strip north-south road with a road leading to a large Jewish settlement. In the same truck, Nidal Abu Aoun, 28, and a third emergency worker are critically wounded. This brings the death toll of the 12-week-old el-Aqsa intifada to 334, all but some 30 of them Palestinians.
    1996 Carl Sagan, a los 62 años, astrónomo americano.
    1995: 159 of the 163 aboard an American Airlines Boeing 757 en route to Cali, Colombia, which crashes into a mountain.
    1994 Dean Rusk, 85, former US Secretary of State, in Athens, Georgia.
    1987 More than 3000 (1749 at first count) in worst peacetime shipping disaster, Doña Paz, a Philippine passenger ship, collides with the tanker Vector off Mindoro island, setting off a double explosion.
    1976 Richard J. Daley, Chicago mayor ("The police are not there to create chaos, the police are there to preserve chaos.”). He was born on 15 May 1902.
    1973 Luis Carrero Blanco, PM of Spain, assassinated con explosivos por terroristas de ETA (Euzkadi Ta Askatasuna).
    1968 John Steinbeck, 66, US author, in New York.
    1962 Emil Artin, mathematician.
    1961 Moss Hart, 57, playwright
    1939 Day 21 of Winter War: USSR aggression against Finland. [Talvisodan 21. päivä]
    More deaths due to Stalin's desire to grab Finnish territory.
  • Karelian Isthmus: Soviet troops continue their assault at Summa. The first Soviet offensive on the Isthmus runs out of steam. By evening the main defensive positions are entirely under Finnish control.
  • The Finnish II Army Corps commanded by Lieutenant-General Öhquist is ordered to launch a counteroffensive.
  • Northern Finland: at Joutsijärvi in the Salla sector a Russian battalion manages to infiltrate behind the Finnish positions at Mäntyvaara. The Russian battalion is finally destroyed in hand-to-hand fighting.
  • A battalion of the Soviet 122nd Division surprises two companies of Detached Battalion 17 which had been moved into reserve. After four hours of fighting, the enemy withdraws with the loss of 300 dead. Finnish losses are 17 dead, including the two company commanders.
  • The Finns take the initiative at Salla.
  • Colonel Paavo Talvela is promoted to Major-General, and Lieutenant-Colonel A.O. Pajari to Colonel.
  • Ladoga Karelia: the enemy bombs and machine-guns a train carrying evacuees at Jänisjärvi Station in the parish of Harlu. 16 civilians are killed.
  • Northern Finland: the enemy bombs Kontiomäki. One person is killed.
  • Ladoga Karelia: the enemy bombs Sortavala. Two people are killed and three injured.
  • Soviet aircraft also bomb Matkaselkä. Five people are killed and three seriously injured.
  • Abroad: donated ambulances leave Sweden and Denmark en route to Finland.
  • 1937 Erich Ludendorff, 72, German General.
    1929 Paolo Sala, Italian artist born on 14 January 1859.
    1929 Émile François Loubet, ex presidente de la República Francesa.
    1924 Ricardo Bellver y Ramón, escultor español.
    1911 Joan Maragall, poeta español.
    1900 Carl Ludwig Friedrich Becker, German artist born on 18 December 1820.
    1900 Frederick Richard Pickersgill, British painter born on 25 September 1820. — links to images.
    Sacagawea dollar1892 Inflatable automobile tire.
          Brown and George Stillman of Syracuse, New York, patented an inflatable automobile tire. Before the pneumatic tire, wheels were often made of solid rubber. This made travel a bumpy experience. After all, the streets of 1892 were made of dirt or cobblestone. Some horse-drawn carriages had been made with inflatable tires, but Brown and Stillman got the first patent for pneumatic automobile tires.
    1876 Hannah Omish, 12, youngest ever lawfully hanged in US.
    1817 Lié-Louis Périn-Salbreux, French artist born on 12 October 1753.
    1812 Boinaiv Sacagawea Charbonneau, 26, Shoshone interpreter for the Lewis and Clark expedition. Her (imagined) effigy is on the US $1 golden-colored coin [photo >] first issued in 2000. (Toussaint Charbonneau married both Sacagawea and another Shoshone simultaneously. Some believe the one who died in 1812 is the other wife and that Sacagawea lived until 1884).
    1783 Antonio Soler, compositor español.
    1765 Le Dauphin Louis de France, 36 ans.
         Monseigneur venait de remettre quelques jours plus tôt au roi Louis XV son père un mémoire où il l'invitait à se défier de la prétention au pouvoir des parlements : "Une fermeté inébranlable est le seul moyen de conserver et vos jours et votre autorité ; il est triste de se faire craindre, mais il est encore plus triste d'avoir à craindre.” A son médecin qui se désole de ne pas trouver le remède qui viendrait à bout du mal qui le conduit à la mort, le Dauphin confie : " Rassurez-vous, vous savez que je ne crains pas la mort.”
    1751 Pierre-Nicolas Huilliot, French artist born in 1674. — links to images.
    1591 Juan de Lanuza, Justicia Mayor de Aragón, perece en el cadalso, por defender los fueros de Aragón, que con él terminaron.
    1590 Ambroise Paré, 80, French surgeon
    1552 Katherine von Bora, 53, a former nun and the widow of German reformer Martin Luther. Both unfaithful to their vows of celibacy, they married in 1525, when Luther was 42 and Katie was 26, and bore six children. Luther died in 1546; Katie, six years later.
    1355 Stephen Urosh IV Dusan of Serbia, while marching to attack Constantinople.
    1073 Santo Domingo de Silos, religioso español.
    0639 Chintila, rey visigodo de España.
    VespasienVitellius, brutally murdered after been dragged through the streets of Rome by Vespasians's supporters, who discovered him in hiding as they entered the city.
    0069 L'empereur Vitellius, égorgé sur le forum de Rome par des mécontents.
         L’empereur Aulus Vitellius, égorgé sur le Forum de Rome, par les militaires partisans de son successeur, Vespasien. Il eut un bref règne de quelques mois entre 68 et 69 . D’ailleurs, cette année fut appelée par les historiographes, l’année des 4 empereurs (Galba, Othon, Vitellius et Vespasien). Cette instabilité montrait une transformation radicale du régime impérial : désormais, les empereurs devaient non seulement être légitimés par le Sénat, mais aussi par les légions, qui accédèrent ainsi à un pouvoir politique réel. C’est elle qui marchant sur Rome faisaient et défaisaient les Empereurs, souvent des généraux.
          Cet assassinat conclut une année troublée. Après la mort tragique de Néron, trois généraux se sont succédés en quelques mois à la tête de l'empire romain: Galba, Othon et enfin Vitellius. A Alexandrie, en Egypte, les légions du Danube et de l'Orient, excédées, proclament empereur presque malgré lui le général Titus Flavius Vespasien. [image]
          Ce militaire de 60 ans est originaire d'une famille modeste de l'Italie provinciale, à la différence des premiers césars, tous issus de l'aristocratie romaine. Il a fait la preuve de ses capacités en réprimant une révolte en Palestine. Vespasien laisse à son fils Titus le soin d'en finir avec les Juifs et s'installe à Rome pour rétablir l'ordre et redresser les finances publiques. En dix ans de règne, cet homme providentiel consolide de manière remarquable l'oeuvre de Jules César et Auguste. Il favorise les provinciaux et nomme les plus riches d'entre eux au Sénat pour affaiblir la vieille aristocratie romaine, encline au complot. Il gère les finances en père de famille mais ne néglige pas les grands travaux. C'est ainsi qu'il lance la construction d'un nouvel amphithéâtre de 50.000 places, le Colisée. Son nom (le «Colosseo» ou le «Colosse») lui viendrait de la proximité d'une grande statue de Néron. Vespasien affermit aussi la conquête des îles britanniques et se protège des Germains en annexant les Champs Décumates, un territoire à la jonction du Rhin et du Danube. L'empereur tente enfin d'instaurer une succession héréditaire à la tête de l'empire en y préparant son fils Titus. Mais sa dynastie dite des Flaviens s'éteindra après le règne détestable de son second fils, Domitien. Vespasien est connu pour avoit dit un jour: «non olet» («il ne sent pas»), à propos de l'argent prélevé sur les latrines publiques, qui seront pour cela appelées... vespasiennes. A l'instant de mourir, il dit aussi en se levant: «decet imperatorem stantem mori» («il convient qu'un empereur meure debout»).
    Births which occurred on a December 20:
    1984 Megabit memory chip, Bell Labs announces that it had developed the long-awaited megabit memory chip. The chip could store more than one million bits of electronic data, quadrupling the capacity of existing chips.
    1960 North Vietnam's National Front for the Liberation of the South
          North Vietnam announces the formation of the National Front for the Liberation of the South at a conference held "somewhere in the South.” This organization, more commonly known as the National Liberation Front (NLF), was designed to replicate the success of the Viet Minh, the umbrella nationalist organization that successfully liberated Vietnam from French colonial rule.
          The NLF reached out to those parts of South Vietnamese society who were displeased with the government and policies of President Ngo Dinh Diem. One hundred delegates representing more than a dozen political parties and religious groups--both communists and non-communists--were in attendance at the conference. However, from the beginning, the NLF was dominated by the Lao Dong Party Central Committee (North Vietnamese Communist Party) and served as the North's shadow government in South Vietnam. The Saigon regime dubbed the NLF the "Viet Cong," a pejorative contraction of Viet Nam Cong San (Vietnamese Communists).
          The NLF's military arm was the People's Liberation Armed Forces (PLAF). In February 1965, the PLAF attacked US Army installations at Pleiku and Qui Nhon, which convinced President Lyndon B. Johnson to send the first US ground troops to South Vietnam a month later. Ultimately, more than 500,000 US troops were sent to Vietnam to fight the PLAF and the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN, or North Vietnamese Army).
          The NLF reached the height of its power during the 1968 Tet Offensive, when the communists launched a massive coordinated attack against key urban centers throughout South Vietnam. Although the Viet Cong forces were soundly defeated during the course of the offensive, they achieved a great psychological victory because the attack prompted many long time supporters of the war to question the Johnson administration's optimistic predictions.
    1938 Kinescope, and iconoscope: first television patents On this day in 1938, television pioneer Vladimir Kosma Zworykin, a Russian-born American engineer, patented two revolutionary devices that led to modern television. One invention, the kinescope (also known as the cathode-ray receiving tube), is still used today in television and computer monitors. The other patent was for the iconoscope, a cathode-ray transmitter, which was used in all television cameras for the next fifty years.
    1929 Manuel Losada Villasante, científico español
    1929 Milan Panic, ingeniero químico y político yugoslavo.
    1927 Kim Young Sam, presidente de Corea del Sur.
    1919 Canadian National Railways established (N America's longest, 50'000 KM)
    1918 Jean Marchand, Canadian politician who died on 28 August 1988.
    1914 Robert Colquhoun, British artist who died on 20 September 1962. — more with links to images.
    1911 Hortense Calisher novelist (Arts & Letters 1967)
    1902 Sidney Hook, US anticommunist social philosopher (Paradoxes of Freedom). He died on 12 July 1989.
    1902 Max Lerner, US educator and columnist, but always a Lerner. He died on 05 June 1992.
    1901 Robert Van de Graaff Alabama, physicist and inventor (Mobility of Gaseous Ions). He died on 16 January 1967.
    1895 Susanne Langer US, philosopher/educator (Philosophy in a New Key)
    1894 Sir Robert Menzies Australian PM (1939-41, 1949-66). He died on 16 May 1978.
    1875 T.F. Powys Wales, writer (Captain Patch, Goat Green)
    1875 Cantelli, mathematician.
    1868 Harvey S. Firestone US industrialist, where the rubber meets the road He died on 07 February 1938.
    1858 Theodoor Jan Toorop, Dutch Symbolist painter who died on 03 March 1928. MORE ON TOOROP AT ART “4” DECEMBER with links to images.
    1854 Charles Wilda, Austrian artist who died on 11 June 1907.
    1843 Paul Tannery, mathematician.
    1841 Ferdinand-Edouard Buisson France, educator (Nobel Peace Prize 1927)
    1833 Samuel Alexander Mudd, in Maryland. He would grow up to be a physician and be convicted of giving medical aid to fleeing Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth. ("His name is Mudd")
          After John Wilkes Booth had assassinated President Lincoln in Fords Theater (in Washington D.C.) he jumped down to the stage and broke his leg. On the morning of April 15, 1865, the day after the assassination, Booth went to Mudd and asked him to set his leg, Mudd did so, then Booth left. A military court tried Mudd and found him guilty of being an accessory to an assassination even though he said he didn't recognize Booth. Mudd was sentenced to life in prison and sent to serve his sentence at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas, an island chain in the Caribbean. He tried to escape once but failed and was kept in chains for two years. During a yellow fever epidemic in the prison he saved many guards' and prisoners' lives. Mudd was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson in 1869. He died in 1883.
    1776 Domingo Pérez Macías, religioso español
    1776 José María del Castillo y Rada, abogado y político colombiano.
    1744 Jean François Pierre Peyron, French artist who died on 20 January 1814. — more with links to images.
    1648 Tommaso Ceva, mathematician.
    1579 John Fletcher (baptized) Elizabethan dramatist author of Studies on Slavery, in Easy Lessons -- co-author of Philaster: or, Love Lies A-Bleeding -- The Two Noble Kinsmen
         Fletcher was a prodigy who was admitted to Cambridge before he turned 12. His history is unknown between then and 1607, but after 1607 he was engaged in composing his own plays or collaborating closely with Francis Beaumont. Both men contributed prefacing verses to a 1607 version of Volpone by Ben Jonson and soon were producing their own plays for the King's Men and Blackfriars, two companies for which Shakespeare also wrote. Their most successful collaboration was Philaster: or, Love Lies A-Bleeding.
          Some of Fletcher's solo projects included The Faithful Shepherdess, The Mad Lover, Women Pleased, and Wild Goose Chase, all produced between 1608 and 1624. Fletcher's plays differ from Shakespeare's in their preference for remote, magical settings; bizarre plotlines; and occasionally inconsistent characters. In 1613, Beaumont married a rich heiress and retired from writing. Fletcher died of the plague in 1625.
    1532 Orazio Samachini (or Somacchini), Italian artist who died on 12 June 1577. — more
    1494 Fine, mathematician
    Holidays Taiwan : Bank Holiday
    Santos Domingo de Silos, Ceferino, Eugenio, Julio, Macario y Teófilo. / Abraham (en hébreu, «père d'une multitude») est un chef de clan prospère, natif d'Ur, en Chaldée (l'Irak actuel). Il a 99 ans quand Dieu lui apparaît en songe. Yahvé (Celui qui est) fait don de son Alliance (ou Testament) à Abraham. Il l'engage à quitter sa contrée et à partir vers la terre de Canaan, ainsi nommée d'après Cham, l'un des fils de Noé. Dieu annonce aussi à Abraham qu'il aura un fils, Isaac, de son épouse Sara et qu'il sera le père d'une multitude de nations! Abraham part donc avec son peuple, qu'on dénomme les Hébreux, d'un mot qui signifie «ceux qui passent». Après une longue errance, la petite troupe s'établit enfin sur la terre de Canaan, qui n'est autre que l'actuelle Palestine. Abraham est considéré comme le fondateur de la nation hébraïque. Les trois grandes religions monothéistes (judaïsme, christianisme et islam) se réclament de lui.

    DICTIONNAIRE TICRANIEN: désert: ce qu'une personne vaniteuse se donne.
    Thoughts for the day:
    “If I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.” —
    Mother Teresa
    “I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish He didn't trust me so much.” —
    Mother Teresa
    “The best laid plans of mice and men oft leave cats unimpressed.”
    “To criticize the incompetent is easy; it is more difficult to criticize the competent.”
    “To criticize the incompetent is easy; it is more difficult to convince them that they are incompetent.”
    “To criticize the incompetent is easy; it is more difficult to teach them to be competent.”
    “To criticize the incompetent is easy; except when the incompetent is oneself.”
    “To criticize those who criticize the competent is easy; it is more difficult to criticize those who criticize the incompetent.”
    “To criticize the incompetent is easy; it is more difficult to shut up and do something.”
    “To compete uncritically is easy; it is more difficult to compete critically.”
    “To be an incompetent critic is easy; it is more difficult to be a critical competitor.”
    “To criticize a competitor is easy; it is more difficult to compete with a critic.”
    “To criticize the incompetent is easy; it is more difficult to ease them out.”
    “To criticize the incompetent is easy; it is more difficult to keep them out of government.”
    “To criticize the incompetent is easy; it is more difficult to compete with the critics.”
    “To criticize the incompetent is easy; it is more difficult for them to benefit from the criticism.”
    ENIGMATICAL PROPHECIES [from the 1736 Almanack, with the original spelling].
    Which they that do not understand, cannot well explain.
         1. Before the middle of this year, a wind at N. East will arise, during which the water of the sea and rivers will be in such manner raised, that great part of the towns of Boston, Newport, New-York, Philadelphia, the low lands of Maryland and Virginia, and the town of Charlstown in South Carolina, will be under water. Happy will it be for the sugar and salt, standing in the cellars of those places, if there be tight roofs and cielings overhead; otherwise, without being a conjurer, a man may easily foretel that such commodities will receive damage.
         2. About the middle of the year, great numbers of vessels fully laden will be taken out of the ports aforesaid, by a Power with which we are not now at war, and whose forces shall not be descried or seen either coming or going. But in the end this may not be disadvantageous to those places.
         3. However, not long after, a visible army of 30000 musketers will land, some in Virginia and Maryland, and some in the lower counties on both sides of Delaware, who will over-run the country, and sorely annoy the inhabitants; but the air in this climate will agree with them so ill towards winter, that they will die in the beginning of cold weather like rotten sheep, and by Christmas the inhabitans will get the better of them.

    [These 3 prophecies, reproduced in This Day in History for yesterday, did indeed come to pass, but Franklin's readers had to wait one year for the 1737 Almanack to understand them. I will not make you wait that long, Here is Franklin's 1737 explanation of the first prophecy. For the other two, make sure you read This Day in History for the next few days.]
    In my last I published some enigmatical prophecies, which I did not expect any one would take for serious predictions. The explanation I promised, follows, viz.
         1. The water of the sea and rivers is raised in vapours by the sun, is form'd into clouds in the air, and thence descends in rain. Now when there is rain overhead, (which frequently happens when the wind is at N.E.) the cities and places on the earth below, are certainly under water.
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