1.17.2017 Day in History

Greeks today, reflecting traditions that date back prior to ‘Olympian’ times, initiate the celebration of an annual Patras Festival, an advance hurrah for Spring in the depths of Winter; as erstwhile Republican dissolution loomed and imperial predominance pended, two thousand fifty-five years ago, Octavian’s decision to divorce one wife and marry another upset a delicate balance that helped pave the way for the empire to hold sway; more or less four hundred thirty-three years onward in space and time, also in Rome in 395, the demise of the first Emperor Theodosius upended the agreements that permitted a ‘unified’ rule under Rome’s aegis and inaugurated the thereafter permanent division of the struggling Empire into a Western and an Eastern constituent; eighteen years less than a millenium further along the temporal road, in 1377, a similar, if also markedly different, split, this time in Catholicism, ended when an eleventh Pope Gregory oversaw the reestablishment of the papacy in Rome after its temporary location in Avignon; only three years fewer than a century and a half later, in 1524, the Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, sailing from Madeira, set forth in search of a route to circumnavigate the globe; four hundred nine years back, Ethiopian imperial forces delivered a crushing blow to ethnic Oromo troops, who may have lost as many as 12,000 of their number, at a cost to Emperor Susenyos I of only a few hundred fighters; two years less than a full century afterward, in 1706, the male infant bounced into the world who would mature as the scientist and thinker and ‘original entrepreneur,’ Benjamin Franklin; ninety-three years henceforth, in 1799, advocates of Maltese independence confronted execution in a conflict over independence for the feisty island that in some senses has continued to this day; twenty-one years additional in the direction of today, in 1820, the female infant entered the world in standard fashion who would grow up as a third Brontë sister, Anne; thirty-two years thereafter, in 1852, Brontë’s native land compromised with Boer trekkers and recognized the Dutch settlers’ power in the Transvaal; fifteen years subsequently, in 1867, a German infant male was born who would grow up as the founder of Universal Studios and general auteur of filmmaking, Carl Laemmle; a film movie theatermere half dozen years nearer to the here and now, in 1873, recalcitrant Modoc Indian rebels in the First Battle of the Stronghold drove off a U.S. Army force sent to destroy them; in a tactically similar but strategically divergent expression of colonial and imperial relations twelve years onward toward today, in 1885, English troops in Sudan held off a large Dervish army; an additional six years forward through space and time, in 1891, historian of establishment America George Bancroft composed his final chapter; seven hundred thirty-one days yet later on, in 1893, Anglos who had organized a ‘Citizens’ Committee of Public Safety’ oversaw the destruction of indigenous Hawaiian rule and its queenly commander; yet another half dozen solar cycles’ spin toward the present, in 1899, the male child cried out whom fate had designated to mature as the business genius and gangster, Al Capone; four years hence, in 1903, the U.S. at once consolidated and tempered its colonial seizure of Puerto Rico by designating the El Yunque National Forest there as part of the area that the National Forest Service would oversee; the very next annual span after that, in 1904, thousands of miles to the East in Moscow, Anton Chekhov oversaw the premier performance of his iconic Cherry Orchard; eleven years yet

By Sun Long (孫隆) and Chen Lu (陳錄)
By Sun Long (孫隆) and Chen Lu (陳錄)

more proximate to the present pass, in 1915, the radical anarchist organizer Lucy Parsons led a Chicago hunger march, and International Workers of the World stalwart Ralph Chapin published the evanescent and ever-ready rallying cry, “Solidarity Forever;” two years to the day past that period of empowered output, in 1917, the U.S. Government bought a bargain, the Virgin Islands, from Denmark for a couple million bucks; in Georgia a decade en route to now, in 1927, the founder of the Girl Scouts of America, Juliette Gordon Low, breathed her last; just two more years on time’s relentless march, in 1929, Popeye-the-Sailor-Man made his first appearance as a cartoon character; in one of the imperial conundrums of World War Two a dozen years hence, in 1941, French naval combatants crushed the Royal Thai Navy; another year even closer to the current context, in 1942 Louisville Kentucky, a baby boy was born who would grow up as the redoubtable boxer and radical and thinker Cassius Clay, whom we remember as Muhammad Ali; three years farther down the pike, in 1945, the Red Army completed its capture of the devastated Polish capital, Warsaw, while Nazis began abandoning its murderous and production facilities at Auschwitz, and Soviet agents arrested Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg in Hungary; just another trek around the solar center past that, in 1946, the United Nations Security Council held its first session; a thousand four hundred and sixty-one days in even greater proximity to our own point in time, in 1950, intrepid thieves in Boston orchestrated one of America’s most daring and lucrative thefts, the so-called Great Brinks’ Robbery; eleven years still later, in 1961, President Eisenhower gave his broadcast Farewell Address that warned against the expanding stranglehold of a ‘military industrial complex,’ while CIA operatives helped to murder Patrice lumumba africaLumumba, an authentic popular leader in the Congo; half a decade more along the temporal arc, in 1966, meanwhile, military-industrial catastrophe nearly transpired when a B-52 bomber exploded in flight as it sought to refuel, killing its entire crew and dispensing onto Spain and into the Mediterranean its hydrogen bombs; exactly a thousand ninety-six days further along, in 1969, a meeting among Black Power advocates resulted in the never-punished murder of two Black panthers on the University of California Los Angeles Campus; twenty-three additional years on the approach to today, in 1992, Japan’s Prime Minister, during a visit to the Korean Peninsula, apologized for Tokyo’s apprehension of Korean women a half century earlier as sexual slaves for imperial troops; four years thereafter, in 1996, the Czech Republic application for European Union membership hit the table, much to the concern of the Russian Federation; six years more in the direction of this moment in space-time, in 2002, the Spanish writer and popular politician, who received Nobel Laureates, Camile Jose Sela, staged his final scene; another five years of forward motion further, in 2007, columnist and writer Art Buchwald died, as the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists set its chilling and iconic Doomsday Clock at five minutes before midnight following North Korea’s initial atomic weapons test; precisely three hundred sixty-five days later, in 2008, the mercurial and combative chess genius and promoter of reactionary causes, Bobby Fischer, drew a final breath; two years onward to the second, in 2010, Muslim and Christian opponents in Jos, Nigeria attacked each other and the State, resulting in hundreds of deaths, as a proponent of ‘love stories,’ Erich Segal, composed his last couplet in the United States.