1.31.2017 Day in History

povertyOn this date, Austria marks its recognition, with Street Children’s Day, of an important and certainly not altogether pleasant aspect of modern existence, the presence of homeless children in our midst; in the unfolding of early modern Europe’s internecine bourgeois conflicts, five hundred thirteen years ago, the kingdom of France ceded to the Iberian Aragon imprimatur control over the Republic of Naples; a century and two years onward in the direction of today, in 1606, across the English Channel in London, British ruling families oversaw the execution of Guy Fawkes and co-conspirators for their role in attempting to kill many upper crust denizens of early 17th century England in the Gunpowder Plot; two hundred seventy years in advance of today, the city of London graced toe world’s first venereal disease clinic; a half a dozen years en route to today, in 1752, the baby boy was born into extremely privileged circumstances who would grow up to be one of the ‘fattest cats’ to inaugurate America’s constitutional republic, whom we know as Gouverneur Morris; just short of half a century onward in space and time, in 1801, another stalwart of young America’s ruling class, John Marshall, went through the swearing in ceremony to become a storied, plain-speaking promoter of an American imperial perspective; sixteen years precisely past that point, in 1817, the possibility exists – and modern people have reached general agreement to pretend – that the male infant opened his eyes who would rise as the fierce leader of abolition who decried not knowing his own birthday, Frederick Douglass; one hundred seventy-one years prior to present times, early internecine American social conflict exploded in the Milwaukee Bridge War, laying the basis for the formation of a more or less modern day Milwaukee, Wisconsin; a thousand ninety-six days further along, in 1849, roughly 4,000 miles to the East in England, Parliament abolished the so-called Corn Laws and instituted an early period of ‘free trade;’ sixteen years hence, in 1865, back across the Atlantic slavery racism brutalitypond, the United States Congress at its most ‘radical,’ passed the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which made slavery and involuntary servitude illegal at the same time that it permitted calling people ‘criminals’ in order to treat them as slaves; seven years beyond that development in support of at least a tacit freedom, in 1872, the male infant graced our presence who would grow up as the esteemed writer of popular fiction, especially Westerns, Zane Grey; just short of three decades farther down the pike, in 1892, again across the North Atlantic in Europe, the people of Portugal followed a section of their bourgeoisie in demanding a republican form of government, centered on actions in the city of Porto; three years thereafter, in 1894, in the Western US state of Colorado, union miners for the only time in US history gained the support of the state militia in a strike to resist a nearly 20% reduction in wages; another three years span on the move toward today, in 1897, once more in the Western part of the Eurasian landmass, workers in the nascent Czechoslovakia formed the Czechoslav Trade Union Association; one more three-year span en route to contemporary reality, in 1900, a prelude to all of the anti imperial and anti colonial wars of the 20th and 21st centuries unfolded in British Malay territory with the death in battle of the Mat Salleh Rebellion leader, Datu Muhammad Salleh; seven hundred thirty days subsequently, in 1902, the little baby girl opened her eyes who would rise as the Swedish champion of women’s rights and democratic socialism as well as recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Alva Myrdal; three years past that salubrious entry, in 1905, a male infant bounced into the world in the United States who would mature as the popular writer of ‘potboiler’ fiction, John O’Hara; eight years still more proximate to the present pass, in 1913, an armored train that took the name of Teddy Roosevelt’s breakaway Bull Moose party, shot down striking miners in Holly Grove, West Virginia; a two-ear hiatus beyond that, in 1915, Germany became the initiator of weapons of mass destruction of indeterminate effect with the utilization of prison gas warfare

"Gas mask MUA IMGP0157" by Nikodem Nijaki
“Gas mask MUA IMGP0157” by Nikodem Nijaki

on the Eastern front against the Russians, while in much more beneficent fashion, the baby boy was born who would become the theologian and philosopher Thomas Merton, and yet another infant boy came along who would grow into the champion of folk culture and grassroots cultural engagement, Alan Lomax; seven hundred thirty-one days afterward, in 1917, Germany withdrew its unilateral cessation of u-boat warfare to resume unrestricted submarine attacks on merchant and military ships, and the city of San Francisco underwent a radical, or merely provocative, bombing of a Preparedness Day Parade that ‘prepared’ American workers for the slaughter in the trenches of Europe; an additional two years on time’s relentless march, in 1919, the male child first gazed round him who would wow fans with his prowess on the baseball field as Jackie Robinson; four years yet later on, in 1923, the male infant entered our midst who would mature as the crack reporter and prize-winning author, Norman Mailer; half a dozen years more on time’s trek, in 1929, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics formally exiled Leon Trotsky; another four years en route to today, in 1933, Nobel-Prize winning author James Galsworthy composed his last chapter; an additional two years after that, in 1935, a Japanese boy child gazed about him for the first time on his way to a life as the scholar and compelling storyteller and Nobelist, Kenzaburo Oe; a further eight solar cycles beyond that, in 1943, arguably the definitive battle of World War Two, at Stalingrad, culminated with the surrender of Germany’s armies to the victorious Soviets; a mere year nearer to the here and now, in 1944, the popular Interwar French writer and dramatist Jean Giradoux gave his setting one last look; another three hundred sixty-six leap days’ march along the temporal road, in 1945, a mass murder of several thousand took place of

San Francisco Holocaust Memorial Wally Gobetz Flickr
San Francisco Holocaust Memorial Wally Gobetz Flickr

Stutthof Concentration Camp inmates, whom German guards, who were themselves seeking escape from encircling Soviets, marched into the sea and then shot, and a much more intimate homicide unfolded, as a martial spectacle and under color of law, when a U.S. firing squad shot admitted deserter Eddie Slovik; modeling its new Constitution on the Soviet system another year past that doubly tragic juncture, in 1946, Yugoslavia inaugurated its new governance methods, relatively speaking free of the depredations of imperial imprimatur, at the same time that the Democratic Republic of Vietnam replaced French-imposed currency in a sign of changes ahead in Indochina; a thousand ninety-six days even closer to the current context, in 1949,the National Broadcasting Corporation sent out the first installment of These Are My Children, which in retrospect became the exemplary first installment of the so-called ‘soap-opera’ circuit on television, while more or less six hundred miles South in Oklahoma City, a baby boy was busy being born who would soon enough win followers and acclaim as the popular transpersonal-psychologist Ken Wilber; the very next year, in a definitely ‘transpersonal’ decision in 1950, President Harry Truman proclaimed the so-called ‘super-bomb’ program to develop a fusion nuclear weapon; four years henceforth, in 1954, Edwin Armstrong, the American engineer who designed the first Frequency Modulation radio systems, sent out his final burst of energy over the airwaves; just one additional year in the direction of today, in 1955, the establishment Christian leader and thinker John Mott died; three hundred sixty-five days farther down the pike, in 1956, beloved yarnspinner and creator of Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne, came to his final chapter; another trek round the solar center onward in space and time, in 1957, professional hockey players formed a union that sought to negotiate transparency in pension fund arrangements, which club owners temporarily derailed by trading away or otherwise transferring key activist leaders; another year in even greater proximity to the present point, in 1958, the U.S. Launched its first successful satellite, which in turn provided the instrument readings that confirmed the existence of the Van Allen Radiation Belt; three years after that propitious juncture, in 1961, the only two and a half year old National Aeronautics and Space Administration launched Ham the Chimpanzee into outer space; in the meantime, on this day seven years past that ‘giant step,’ in 1968, coordinated attacks throughout Vietnam, including against the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, marked what we have since called the Tet Offensive, as an entirely different imperial outcome transpired to the East when Nauru gained its independence from Australia; three years subsequent to those rites of neocolonial passage, in 1971, the fourteenth Apollo program launch took place, which would lead to member of the Admiralty and flight commander Alan Shepard’s driving golf balls on the lunar surface, and in an arguably vastly more important development, the Winter Soldier Investigation opened in Detroit, documenting the witness of military personnel of crimes against humanity in the name of empire and plunder; a decade back precisely, in 2007, English police investigators arrested conspirators whom the authorities demonstrated had been plotting to murder a Muslim British soldier who was fighting for Empire in Iraq, and the American journalist and author and gadfly, Molly Ivins, drew a final breath; exactly a year more on the temporal arc, in 2008, Imperial Sugar, having for years ignored safety concerns at its coastal Georgia refinery, sent more than a dozen workers to an early grave—scores more faced serious injuries—when airborne dust explosively ignited at the facility; only a year still later, in 2009, across the South Atlantic and most of Africa in Kenya, well over a hundred people succumbed to another profit-over-people approach to commodity production when oil spillage ignited, causing hundreds of injuries in addition to the horrific deaths; in happier news the next year round the sun, in 2010, Avatarbecame the first film in history to gross over $2 billion in ticket sales worldwide; in another cultural passage four years en route to the here and now, in 2014, the songwriter, record executive, and founder of Anna Records, Anna Gordy Gaye, sang a swan song only three days after her ninety-second birthday.