January 20 in history


On January 20:

  • Emperor Decius began a widespread persecution of Christians in Rome. Pope Fabian was martyred.
  • Emperor Traianus Decius (Mary Harrsch).jpg

    1265 In Westminster, the first English parliament conducts its first meeting held by Simon de Montfort in the Palace of Westminster.

    Looking down from some height, a large stone building in the Gothic style lies by a river with its long side parallel to it. It is internally organised around a number of courtyards, and its various wings feature grey roofs and multiple=

    1356 Edward Balliol abdicated as King of Scotland.

    1523 Christian II was forced to abdicate as King of Denmark and Norway.

    1649 Charles I of England went on trial for treason and other “high crimes”.

    1788 The third and main part of First Fleet arrived at Botany Bay. Arthur Phillip decided that Botany Bay is unsuitable for location of a penal colony, and decides to move to Port Jackson.


    1840  Dumont D’Urville discovered Adélie Land, Antarctica.

    Dumont d'Urville00.jpg


    1840 – Willem II became King of the Netherlands.

    1841  Hong Kong Island was occupied by the British.

    1885  L.A. Thompson patented the roller coaster.

     Thompson’s Switchback Railway

     1887  The United States Senate allowed the Navy to lease Pearl Harbor as a naval base.

    1892  At the YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts, the first official basketball game was played.

     The first basketball court: Springfield College.

    1896  George Burns, American actor, comedian, was born.

    1899  Clarice Cliff, English ceramic, was born.

    1910 Joy Adamson, Austrian naturalist and writer, was born.

    1921 The first Constitution of Turkey was adopted, making fundamental changes in the source and exercise of sovereignty by consecrating the principle of national sovereignty.

    1926 Patricia Neal, American actress, was born.

    1929  In Old Arizona, the first full-length talking motion picture filmed outdoors, was released.

    1930  Buzz Aldrin, American astronaut, was born.


    1934  Tom Baker, British actor, was born.

    1936  Edward VIII became King of the United Kingdom.


    1937 Franklin Roosevelt was inaugurated for a second term as President of the United States. This was the first inauguration scheduled on January 20, following adoption of the 20th Amendment. Previous inaugurations were scheduled on March 4.

    1950  Liza Goddard, British actress, was born.

    1952 Paul Stanley, American musician (Kiss), was born.

    1957 Scott Base opened in Antarctica.

    Scott Base opened in Antarctica

    1959 The first flight of the Vickers Vanguard.

    1960 Hendrik Verwoerd announces a plebiscite on whether South Africa should become a Republic.

    1961  John F. Kennedy is inaugurated as the youngest man, and first-ever Roman Catholic, to become elected President of the United States.

    1965   Sophie, The Countess of Wessex, was born.

    1981 Irann released 52 American hostages twenty minutes after Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as U.S. President, the oldest man to be inaugurated at 69.

    1987  Church of England envoy Terry Waite was kidnapped in Lebanon.

    1990  Black January – crackdown of Azerbaijani pro-independence demonstrations by Soviet army in Baku.

     Soviet tanks in Baku during Black January.

    1991 Sudan‘s government imposed Islamic law nationwide, worsening the civil war between the country’s Muslim north and Christian south.

    2001  Philippine president Joseph Estradawas ousted in a nonviolent 4-day revolution, and was succeeded by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

    2009 Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America – the United States’ first African-American president.

    Portrait of Barack Obama

    Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

    January 1 in history


    On January 1:

    45 BC  The Julian calendar took effect for the first time.

    1001 – Grand Prince Stephen I of Hungary was named the first King of Hungary by Pope Silvester II.

    1449 Lorenzo de’ Medici, Italian statesman, was born.

    Portrait by Agnolo Bronzino.

    1651  Charles II was crowned King of Scotland.

    1735 Paul Revere,  American patriot, was born.

     Portrait of Paul Revere by John Singleton Copley,

    1772 – The first traveller’s cheques, which could be used in 90 European cities, went on sale in London.

    1779  William Clowes, English printer, was born.

    1788  First edition of The Times of London, previously The Daily Universal Register, was published.

    1800  The Dutch East India Company was dissolved.

    1801 The legislative union of Kingdom of Great Britain and Kingdom of Ireland was completed to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

    1801 The dwarf planet Ceres was discovered by Giuseppe Piazzi.

    Ceres optimized.jpg

    1803  Emperor Gia Long ordered all bronze wares of the Tây Sơn Dynasty to be collected and melted into nine cannons for the Royal Citadel in Huế, Vietnam.

    1804 French rule ended in Haiti. Haiti becomes the first black republic and second independent country on the American Continent after the U.S.


    1808  The importation of slaves into the United States wais banned.

    1810  Major-General Lachlan Macquarie CB officially became Governor of New South Wales.

    1833 The United Kingdom claimed sovereignty over the Falkland Islands.


    1833 Robert Lawson, New Zealand architect, was born.

    1859 Pencarrow, New Zealand’s first lighthouse, was lit for the first time.

    NZ's first lighthouse, Pencarrow, lit for the first time

    1860 First Polish stamp was issued.

    1861  Porfirio Díaz conquered Mexico City.

    1876  The Reichsbank opened in Berlin.

    1877  Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom was proclaimed Empress of India.

    1879 E. M. Forster, English novelist, was born.

    1880 Ferdinand de Lesseps began French construction of the Panama Canal.

    1890  Eritrea was consolidated into a colony by the Italian government.





    1892  Ellis Island opened to begin processing immigrants into the United States.

    1859 Pencarrow, New Zealand’s first lighthouse, was lit for the first time.

    NZ's first lighthouse, Pencarrow, lit for the first time
  • 1894 – The Manchester Ship Canal,was officially opened to traffic.
  • 1895  J. Edgar Hoover, American FBI director, was born.

    1899Spanish rule ended in Cuba.

     Five horizontal stripes: three blue and two white. A red equilateral triangle at the left of the flag, partly covering the stripes, with a white five pointed star in the centre of the triangle.



     A shield in front of a fasces crowned by the Phrygian Cap, all supported by an oak branch and a laurel wreath

    1901 – The British colonies of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia federated as the Commonwealth of Australia; Edmund Barton was appointed the first Prime Minister.





    1912 The Republic of China was established.

     A red flag, with a small blue rectangle in the top left hand corner on which sits a white sun composed of a circle surrounded by 12 rays.



     A blue circular emblem on which sits a white sun composed of a circle surrounded by 12 rays.

    1912  Kim Philby, British spy, was born.

    Kim philby.jpg

    1919 J. D. Salinger, American novelist, was born.

    1925  American astronomer Edwin Hubble announced the discovery of galaxies outside the Milky Way.

    1934  Alcatraz Island became a United States federal prison.

    1939  William Hewlett and David Packard founded Hewlett-Packard.

    Hewlett-Packard Company logo

    1948 The British railway network was nationalised to form British Railways.

    1956  The Republic of the Sudan gained independence.





    1958 The European Communitywas established.

    1959 Fulgencio Batista, president of Cuba ws overthrown by Fidel Castro‘s forces during the Cuban Revolution.

    Batista in 1938

    1960 The Republic of Cameroon achieved independence.




     Tricolor shield before two crossed fasces. Its center is an inverted red kite shape covered with a purple outline of Cameroon below a gold star, with the scales of justice superimposed. Its left is green and its right is gold. Banners with fine print are above and below.

    1962 Western Samoa achieves independence from New Zealand; its name is changed to the Independent State of Western Samoa.





    1962 – United States Navy SEALs established.

    US Navy SEALs insignia.png

    1982Peruvian Javier Pérez de Cuéllar became the first Latin American to hold the title of Secretary General of the United Nations.

    1983 – The ARPANET officially changes to using the Internet Protocol, creating the Internet.

    1984 – The Sultanate of Brunei became independent.





    1985 The Internet‘s Domain Name Systemwas created.

    1985 – The first British mobile phone callwais made by Ernie Wise to Vodafone.

    1990David Dinkins was sworn in as New York City’s first black mayor.

    1993 – A single market within the European Community is introduced.

    1994 – The North American Free Trade Agreement comes into effect.

    1995  The World Trade Organisation came  into effect.

    1995 – The Draupner wave in the North Sea in Norway was detected, confirming the existence of freak waves.

    1997 – Ghanaian diplomat Kofi Annan was appointed Secretary General of the United Nations.

    1998 – The European Central Bank was established.

    2006 – Sydney, sweltered through its hottest New Years Day on record. The thermometer peaked at 45 degrees celsius, sparking bushfires and power outages.

    Sourced from NZ History ONline & Wikipedia.

    December 23 in history


    On December 23:

    1732 Richard Arkwright, English industrialist and inventor, was born.

    Richard Arkwright by Joseph Wright of Derby

    1822  Wilhelm Bauer, German engineer, was born.

    1867  Madam C.J. Walker, American philanthropist and tycoon, was born.

    1893 The opera Hänsel und Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck was first performed.

    1913 The Federal Reserve Act was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson, creating the Federal Reserve.


    1914  World War I: Australian and New Zealand troops arrived in Cairo, Egypt.

    1925  Rayner Unwin, British book publisher, was born.

    1933  Akihito, Emperor of Japan, was born.

    1937  First flight of the Vickers Wellington bomber.

    1938  Discovery of the first modern coelacanth in South Africa.

    1947 The transistor was first demonstrated at Bell Laboratories.

     A replica of the first working transistor

    1951  Anthony Phillips, British musician (Genesis), was born.

    1953 Queen Elizabeth II arrived in New Zealand, the first reigning monarch to visit.

    Queen Elizabeth II arrives for summer tour

    1954  The first human kidney transplant is performed by Dr. Joseph E. Murray at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.

    1958  Dedication of Tokyo Tower, world’s highest self-supporting iron tower.

    Tokyo Tower 20060211.JPG

    1964 Eddie Vedder, American musician (Pearl Jam), was born.

    1970 The North Tower of the World Trade Center in Manhattan was topped out at 1,368 feet (417 m), making it the tallest building in the world.

    Wtc arial march2001.jpg

    1972 The Nicaraguan capital of Managua was struck by a 6.5 magnitude earthquake which killed more than 10,000.

    1972 The 16 survivors of the Andes flight disaster were rescued after 73 days, having survived by cannibalism.

    1986  Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, lands at Edwards Air Force Base in California becoming the first aircraft to fly non-stop around the world.


    1990  In a referendum, 88% of Slovenia‘s population vote for independence from Yugoslavia.

    2002 A MQ-1 Predator is shot down by an Iraqi MiG-25, making it the first time in history that an aircraft and an unmanned drone had engaged in combat.

    2004  Macquarie Island in the Southern Ocean was hit by an 8.1 magnitude earthquake.

    2005  Chad declares a state of war against Sudan following a December 18 attack on Adré, which left about 100 people dead.

    Sourced from NZ History Online and Wikipedia.

    Relatively better isn’t the same as good


    New Zealand tops Transparency International’s 2009 corruption perception index.

    The others in the top 10 are: Denmark, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands and Australia, Canada and Iceland which are 8th equal.

    The countries at the bottom are: Chad, Iraq, Sudan, Myanmar, Afghanistan and Somalia.

    Corruption is a form of oppression and this map shows how widespread it is:

    While it’s good to be relatively good, what really matters is not how good we are perceived to be relative to anyone else but how good we are fullstop.

    A score of 9.4 does mean we’re perceived to be pretty good.

    That makes it more likely that other countries and other people will trust us and our institutions.

    But we need to be vigilant to ensure that reality matches the perception.

    Hat tip: Poneke.

    How free are they?


    We were wandering round Duomo Plaza in shorts and short-sleeved shirts appropriate to the mid summer temperatures when we noticed three women encased head to foot in black robes with only their eyes peeping out.

    “How awful to have to dress like that,” one said.

    “It’s their choice,” another replied.

    But is it? Do the women who wear these all-enveloping clothes freely choose to do so?

    Even if they do, what does it say about the attitude of their men, if a glimpse of flesh is regarded as obscene or an incitement to lust?

    And what happens to women who choose to dress in less concealing clothes?

    When the law follows the religious dogma, they risk punishment. Lubna Ahmed Al-Hussein, a Sudanese journalist faces 40 lashes because she wore trousers to a restaurant.

    She could claim UN immunity but she wants to be tried in the hope of proving there is nothing in the Koran which makes it wrong to dress as she did.

    She’s not alone. The Arab Network for Human Rights Information is backing her.

    ANHRI calls on “all human rights NGOs interested in freedom of expression and women’s rights to back up Lubna and make efforts to stop this charade trial that violates all international treaties defending freedom of expression and women’s rights asserting that the Sudanese government persecutes antagonists in every possible way and would not refrain from using the worst laws and practices.”

    The women of Vejer de la Frontera in southern Spain used to have to wear the cobijada.


    It wasn’t a desire to give women more freedom which led to it being banned, it was security issues. During the Civil War in the late 1930s, men used the cobijada to disguise themselves and conceal weapons so it was outlawed.

    NZ tops Global Peace Index


     New Zealand has topped the  Institute for Economics and Peace’s Global Peace Index .

    dairy 1

    The Institute is an Australian think tank dedicated to developing the inter-relationships between business, peace and economic development.
    The results of the 2009 survey  suggest:
    that the world has become slightly less peaceful in the past year, which appears to reflect the intensification of violent conflict in some countries and the effects of both the rapidly rising food and fuel prices early in 2008 and the dramatic global economic downturn in the final quarter of the year. Rapidly rising unemployment, pay freezes and falls in the value of house prices, savings and pensions is causing popular resentment in many countries, with political repercussions that have been registered by the GPI through various indicators measuring safety and security in society.
    The GPI uses 23 indicators  of the existence or absence of peace, divided into three broad categories:  measures of ongoing domestic and international conflict, measures of safety and security in society and measures of militarization.
    The Top 10 countries were: New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Austria, Sweden, Japan, Canada, Finland and Slovenia.
    At the bottom were: Georgia, Zimbabwe, Russia, Pakistan, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Israel, Somalia, Afghaanistan and Iraq.
    The full list is here.

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