Wikipedia:Today's featured article/April 2014

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April 1
Comiskey Park

Disco Demolition Night was an ill-fated baseball promotion that took place on July 12, 1979, at Comiskey Park (pictured) in Chicago, Illinois. In the late 1970s, dance-oriented disco music was highly popular in the United States, particularly after featuring in hit films such as Saturday Night Fever (1977). Despite its popularity, disco sparked a backlash from rock music fans. This opposition was prominent enough that the Chicago White Sox engaged shock jock and anti-disco campaigner Steve Dahl for a promotion at a twi-night doubleheader between the White Sox and the Detroit Tigers. Attendees were to bring a disco record with them, and between games, Dahl would destroy the collected vinyl albums in an explosion. Many of those in attendance had come to see the explosion rather than the games and rushed onto the field after the detonation, remaining there until dispersed by riot police. The second game was initially postponed due to damage caused by the rowdy fans, but was instead forfeited to the Tigers the next day. Disco Demolition Night remains well known as one of the most extreme promotions in major league history. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Paul Nobuo Tatsuguchi – Wormshill – SS Pennsylvanian


April 2
Atlantic Puffin

The Atlantic Puffin is a species of seabird in the auk family and is the only puffin native to the Atlantic Ocean. It has a black crown and back, pale grey cheek patches and white underparts and its broad, boldly marked red and black beak and orange legs contrast with its otherwise sombre plumage. The Atlantic Puffin spends the autumn and winter at sea, mainly in the North Atlantic, and returns to land at the start of the breeding season in late spring. Its breeding range includes the coasts of north west Europe, the Arctic fringes and eastern North America. It nests in clifftop colonies, each pair of birds choosing or digging a burrow in which a single white egg is laid. Incubation takes about six weeks and the chicks are fully fledged a similar time later. They then make their way at night to the sea, not returning to land for several years. Colonies are mostly on islands where there are no terrestrial predators, but both adult birds and newly fledged young are at risk of attacks from the air by gulls and skuas. The Atlantic Puffin's striking appearance, large colourful bill, waddling gait and appealing behaviour have given rise to nicknames such as "clown of the sea" and "sea parrot". It is the official bird symbol for the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Disco Demolition Night – Paul Nobuo Tatsuguchi – Wormshill


April 3
A Fleet Air Arm crewman chalks a message for Tirpitz on a bomb.

Operation Tungsten was a World War II Royal Navy air raid that targeted the German battleship Tirpitz. The operation sought to damage or destroy Tirpitz at her base in Kaafjord in the far north of Norway before she could become fully operational again after repairs, and potentially attack convoys carrying supplies to the Soviet Union. After four months of training and preparations, the British Home Fleet sailed on 30 March 1944 and aircraft launched from five aircraft carriers struck Kaafjord on 3 April (bomb preparations pictured). The raid achieved surprise, with the British aircraft meeting little opposition. Fifteen bombs hit the battleship, and strafing by fighter aircraft inflicted heavy casualties on her gun crews. Four British aircraft and nine airmen were lost during the operation. The damage inflicted during the attack was not sufficient to sink or disable Tirpitz, but 122 members of her crew were killed and 316 wounded. The British conducted further carrier raids against Tirpitz between April and August 1944, but none were successful. Tirpitz was eventually disabled and then sunk by Royal Air Force heavy bombers in late 1944. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Atlantic Puffin – Disco Demolition Night – Paul Nobuo Tatsuguchi


April 4
Thaddeus Stevens

Thaddeus Stevens (1792–1868) was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania and one of the leaders of the Radical Republican faction of the Republican Party during the 1860s. A fierce opponent of slavery and discrimination against African-Americans, Stevens sought to secure their rights during Reconstruction, in opposition to President Andrew Johnson. After serving in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Stevens was elected to Congress in 1848 as a Whig. His activities in opposition to slavery cost him votes and he did not seek reelection in 1852. Stevens joined the newly formed Republican Party, and was elected to Congress again in 1858. Stevens argued that slavery should not survive the American Civil War; he was frustrated by the slowness of President Abraham Lincoln to support his position. As chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee during the war, he played a major part in the war's financing. After Lincoln's assassination in April 1865, Stevens came into conflict with the new president, Johnson. Stevens's last great battle was to secure articles of impeachment in the House against Johnson, though the Senate did not convict the President. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Operation Tungsten – Atlantic Puffin – Disco Demolition Night


April 5
An opened clamshell dual-screen handheld device. A camera is embedded in the internal hinge.

The Nintendo DSi is a dual-screen handheld game console released by Nintendo. It is the third iteration of the Nintendo DS, and its primary market rival is Sony's PlayStation Portable. Development of the DSi began in late 2006, and the handheld was first unveiled during a 2008 Nintendo conference in Tokyo. While the DSi's design is similar to that of the DS Lite, it features two digital cameras and also connects to an online store called the Nintendo DSi Shop. The DSi is approximately 12% shorter than the DS Lite when closed, but it is slightly wider and lighter. The DSi also has a larger RAM and faster CPU. All DS games are compatible with the DSi, except those that require the Game Boy Advance slot. Because of its absence, the DSi is not backward compatible with GBA Game Paks or with accessories that require the GBA slot, such as the DS Rumble Pak and the Guitar Hero: On Tour series guitar grip. The Nintendo DSi received generally positive reviews. Critics praised many of the console's changes to the DS Lite's aesthetics and functionality, but complained that it launched with insufficient exclusive software. A larger version of the DSi, the Nintendo DSi XL, was released in 2009. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Thaddeus Stevens – Operation Tungsten – Atlantic Puffin


April 6
German artillery during the Battle of Greece

The Battle of Greece began on 6 April 1941 when Nazi Germany invaded Greece during World War II. It followed an unsuccessful Italian invasion in October 1940 and a further Italian attack in March 1941. When the German invasion began (German artillery pictured), the bulk of the Greek army was on the Albanian border, defending against the Italians. German troops created a second front by coming through Bulgaria, where the Greek defensive line did not receive adequate reinforcements. The Greek army was vastly outnumbered by the two invading forces and was soon forced to surrender. The German army reached Athens on 27 April and Greece's southern shore on 30 April, capturing 7,000 soldiers from British Empire forces who had been sent in anticipation of Germany's invasion. The conquest of Greece was completed with the capture of Crete a month later. Looking back near the end of the war, as Germany's defeat loomed ever closer, Hitler blamed Mussolini's Greek fiasco for his own subsequent catastrophe. As an explanation of Germany's calamitous defeat in the Soviet Union, this had little to commend it. It nevertheless had serious consequences for the Axis war effort in north Africa. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Nintendo DSi – Thaddeus Stevens – Operation Tungsten


April 7
Nancy Mitford

Nancy Mitford (1904–1973) was an English novelist, biographer and journalist. She was the eldest of the renowned Mitford sisters and one of the "Bright Young People" of London's inter-war years. Although mainly remembered for her witty accounts of upper-class life, she also established a reputation as a writer of popular historical biographies. The eldest daughter of the 2nd Baron Redesdale, she published her first book in 1931, but it was her two semi-autobiographical postwar novels, The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, that established her reputation. During the 1950s she was identified with the concept of "U" (upper) and "non-U" language as a determinant of social standing; she had intended this as a joke, but thereafter many considered Mitford an authority on manners and breeding. Her later years were bitter-sweet, the success of her biographical studies of Madame de Pompadour, Voltaire and King Louis XIV contrasting with the ultimate failure of her personal relationships. From the late 1960s her health deteriorated, and she endured several years of painful illness before her death in 1973. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Battle of Greece – Nintendo DSi – Thaddeus Stevens


April 8
Trey Burke

The 2012–13 Michigan Wolverines men's basketball team finished fourth in the Big Ten Conference (having been co-champions in the previous year's regular season), ended the 2013 NCAA Tournament as National Runner-Up, and reached the top of the AP Poll for the first time in 20 years. Led by head coach John Beilein and playing their home games at the University of Michigan's Crisler Center for the 46th consecutive year, the Wolverines had the best start in school history by winning their first 16 games, and 19 of their first 20. The team ended with a 31–8 win–loss record, its most wins in 20 seasons. The Wolverines had lost 2011–12 captains Zack Novak and Stu Douglass to graduation. The incoming class of Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas was ranked among the best in the nation. The team was led by national player of the year Trey Burke (pictured) and All-Conference honorees Tim Hardaway, Jr., Robinson, and Jordan Morgan. Burke was the second National Player of the Year and fifth first-team consensus All-American in Michigan basketball history. At the 2013 NBA draft, Burke and Hardaway became Michigan's first pair of first-round draft choices since 1994. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Nancy Mitford – Battle of Greece – Nintendo DSi


April 9
Goodman Beaver

Goodman Beaver is a comics character created by American cartoonist Harvey Kurtzman. Goodman was a naïve and optimistic Candide-like character, oblivious to the corruption and degeneration around him. The stories were vehicles for biting social satire and pop culture parody. Except for the character's first appearance, which Kurtzman did alone, the stories were written by Kurtzman and drawn by Will Elder. Goodman first appeared in a story in Harvey Kurtzman's Jungle Book in 1959, but the best-remembered strips were the five stories produced by the Kurtzman–Elder team in 1961–62 for the Kurtzman-edited magazine Help! They tended to be in the parodic style Kurtzman had developed when he wrote and edited Mad in the 1950s, but with more pointed, adult-oriented satire and much more refined and detailed artwork on Elder's part, crammed with countless visual gags. The best-known of the Goodman Beaver stories was "Goodman Goes Playboy" (1962). A satire on the hedonistic lifestyle of Hugh Hefner using parodies of Archie comics characters, the story led to a lawsuit from Archie's publisher, although Hefner, the actual target of the strip, found it amusing. (Full article...)

Recently featured: 2012–13 Michigan Wolverines men's basketball team – Nancy Mitford – Battle of Greece


April 10
Elgin Cathedral

Elgin Cathedral is a historic ruin in Elgin, Moray, north-east Scotland. The cathedral, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, was established in 1224 on land granted by King Alexander II. After a damaging fire in 1270, a rebuilding programme greatly enlarged the building. It was unaffected by the Wars of Scottish Independence but suffered further fire damage in 1390 and 1402. The cathedral was abandoned at the time of the Scottish Reformation in 1560 and its services transferred to Elgin's parish church. After the removal of the lead that waterproofed the roof in 1567, the cathedral steadily fell into decay. Its deterioration was arrested in the 19th century, by which time the building was in a substantially ruinous condition. Today, the walls are at full height in places and at foundation level in others yet the overall cruciform shape is still discernible. The chapterhouse is mostly intact, as are the two towers of the west front and the gable wall above the double door entrance that links them. Recessed and chest tombs contain effigies of bishops and knights, while large flat slabs in the now grass-covered floor of the cathedral mark the positions of early graves. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Goodman Beaver – 2012–13 Michigan Wolverines men's basketball team – Nancy Mitford


April 11
Major General Frank Berryman

Frank Berryman (1894–1981) was an Australian Army general during the Second World War. After serving during the First World War on the Western Front with the field artillery, he spent nearly twenty years as a major. He joined the Second Australian Imperial Force in April 1940 and became chief of staff of the 6th Division, later becoming Commander, Royal Artillery, 7th Division. He commanded "Berry Force" in the Syria–Lebanon campaign before returning to Australia in 1942, where he became chief of staff of the First Army and then Deputy Chief of the General Staff. As chief of staff of New Guinea Force, he was involved with the planning and execution of the Salamaua–Lae campaign and the Huon Peninsula campaign, and in November 1943 he became commander of II Corps, which he led in the Battle of Sio. He was the Australian Army representative at the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay. After the war, he directed the Army's response to the 1949 Australian coal strike, became the Director General of the 1954 Royal Tour of Elizabeth II, and was Chief Executive Officer of the Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Elgin Cathedral – Goodman Beaver – 2012–13 Michigan Wolverines men's basketball team


April 12
Triangulum Galaxy

Triangulum and Triangulum Australe are two small constellations, both named for the triangular pattern of their three brightest stars. The constellations are in the northern and the far southern celestial hemispheres respectively. Triangulum was known to the ancient Babylonians and Greeks, and was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd-century astronomer Ptolemy. It contains several galaxies, the brightest and nearest of which is the Triangulum Galaxy (pictured)—a member of the Local Group. It also contains 3C 48, the first quasar ever observed. At magnitude 3.00, the white giant star Beta Trianguli is the brightest star in Triangulum. Three stars in the constellation have been found to have planets. Triangulum Australe was first depicted as Triangulus Antarcticus by Petrus Plancius in 1589 and was given its current name by Johann Bayer in 1603. Its brightest star is Alpha Trianguli Australis, the 42nd-brightest star in the night sky. At magnitude 1.91, it is an orange giant that is 5500 times more luminous than, and 130 times as wide as, our Sun. One star system in Triangulum Australe has a confirmed planet. (Full articles: TriangulumTriangulum Australe)

Recently featured: Frank Berryman – Elgin Cathedral – Goodman Beaver


April 13
Pavle Đurišić

Pavle Đurišić (1909–1945) was a Montenegrin Serb officer of the Royal Yugoslav Army who became a Chetnik commander during World War II. He was one of the commanders of the popular uprising against the Italians in Montenegro in July 1941, then collaborated with the Italians against the Yugoslav Partisans. In 1943, troops under his command carried out several massacres against the Muslim population of Bosnia, Herzegovina and the Sandžak and participated in an anti-Partisan offensive alongside Italian troops. He was captured by the Germans in May 1943, escaped and was recaptured. He was released after the Italian surrender and began collaborating with the Germans and the Serbian puppet government, creating the Montenegrin Volunteer Corps with German assistance. In late 1944, he was decorated with the Iron Cross 2nd Class by the German commander in Montenegro. He was killed by elements of the Armed Forces of the Independent State of Croatia near Banja Luka after he was captured in an apparent trap. Đurišić was a very able Yugoslav Chetnik leader, and his fighting skills were respected by his allies and opponents alike. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Triangulum Australe and Triangulum – Frank Berryman – Elgin Cathedral


April 14
Franklin Peale

Franklin Peale (1795–1870) was an employee and officer of the Philadelphia Mint from 1833 to 1854. He was the son of painter Charles Willson Peale, and was born in the museum of curiosities that his father ran in Philadelphia. For the most part, Franklin Peale's education was informal, though he took some classes at the University of Pennsylvania. He became adept in machine making. In 1820, he became an assistant to his father at the museum, and managed it after Charles Peale's death in 1827. In 1833, Peale was hired by the Mint of the United States, and was sent for two years to Europe to study and report back on coining techniques. He returned with plans for improvement, and designed the first steam-powered coinage press in the United States, installed in 1836. Peale was made Melter and Refiner of the Philadelphia Mint that year, and Chief Coiner three years later upon the retirement of the incumbent, Adam Eckfeldt, who continued in his work without pay. Eckfeldt's labor allowed Peale to run a medal business using Mint property. This sideline eventually caused Peale's downfall: conflicts with Engraver James B. Longacre and Melter and Refiner Richard Sears McCulloh led to Peale being accused of misconduct, and he was dismissed by President Franklin Pierce in 1854. In retirement, Peale continued his involvement in and leadership of many civic organizations; he died in 1870. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Pavle Đurišić – Triangulum and Triangulum Australe – Frank Berryman


April 15

Bharattherium is a mammal that lived in India during the Maastrichtian (latest Cretaceous). The genus has a single species, Bharattherium bonapartei. It is part of the gondwanathere family Sudamericidae, which is also found in Madagascar and South America during the latest Cretaceous. The first fossil of Bharattherium was discovered in 1989 and published in 1997, but the animal was not named until 2007, when two teams independently gave it different names. The specific name bonapartei honors Argentinean paleontologist José Bonaparte, who was the first to describe a gondwanathere fossil. Bharattherium is known from a total of eight isolated fossil teeth, including one incisor and seven molariforms (molar-like teeth). Bharattherium molariforms are high, curved teeth, with a height of 5.97 to 8.40 mm. The tooth enamel has traits that have been interpreted as protecting against cracks in the teeth. The hypsodont (high-crowned) teeth of sudamericids like Bharattherium is reminiscent of later grazing mammals, and the discovery of grass in Indian fossil sites contemporaneous with those yielding Bharattherium suggest that sudamericids were indeed grazers. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Franklin Peale – Pavle Đurišić – Triangulum Australe and Triangulum


April 16
Cast of Horrible Histories at 2011 Children's BAFTAs

Horrible Histories is a children's sketch-comedy adaptation of Terry Deary's long-running book series, produced by Lion Television with Citrus Television, that ran for five 13-episode series on Britain's CBBC from 2009 to 2013. Like the books, it was intended to foster children's interest in British and other Western world history through factual anecdotes retold with a focus on "gross-out"-style humour and comic violence – "history with the nasty bits left in". The producers of the TV series recruited writers and performers with roots in the adult British comedy community. These in turn took a deliberately non-condescending approach, relying instead on such influences as Blackadder and the Monty Python films. A focus on historical accuracy was combined with a comedy style relying heavily on parodies of current UK pop-culture to make those facts more accessible, leading to takeoffs of Masterchef, The Apprentice and Wife Swap among others. The result won numerous domestic and international awards, including two British Comedy Awards and four consecutive Children's BAFTAs (cast at 2011 ceremony pictured), and eventually garnered respect as a classic from viewers of all ages. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Bharattherium – Franklin Peale – Pavle Đurišić


April 17
Kylie Minogue performing "Spinning Around"

"Spinning Around" is the lead single from Light Years (2000), Kylie Minogue's seventh studio album. The disco-influenced dance-pop song addresses the theme of reinvention, with Minogue (pictured performing the song) claiming that she has changed as a person and learned from the past. Released in June 2000, it received favourable reviews from music critics, who regarded it as one of the album's highlights and praised Minogue for returning to her signature musical style. The song was a commercial success and became Minogue's "comeback" single following the critical and commercial disappointment of her sixth studio album Impossible Princess (1997). It entered the Australian Singles Chart at number one, becoming the singer's first chart-topper since "Confide in Me" (1994). The song also debuted at number one in the United Kingdom, and was her first UK number-one single since 1990. The accompanying music video features Minogue dancing and enjoying herself in a disco. It became popular for the gold hotpants she sported in most of the scenes and led to a media "fetish" regarding her bottom. "Spinning Around" has been performed by Minogue during most of her concert tours. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Horrible Histories (2009 TV series) – Bharattherium – Franklin Peale


April 18

Beorhtwulf (died 852) was King of the Mercians from 839 or 840 to 852. His ancestry is unknown, though he may have been connected to Beornwulf, who ruled Mercia in the 820s. Beorhtwulf restarted a Mercian coinage early in his reign, initially with strong similarities to the coins of Æthelwulf of Wessex, and later with independent designs. The Vikings attacked soon after Beorhtwulf's accession: the province of Lindsey was raided in 841, and London, a key centre of Mercian commerce, was attacked the following year. Another Viking assault on London in 851 "put Beorhtwulf to flight", according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle; the Vikings were subsequently defeated by Æthelwulf. Berkshire appears to have passed from Mercian to West Saxon control during Beorhtwulf's reign. The Welsh are recorded to have rebelled against Beorhtwulf's successor, Burgred, shortly after Beorhtwulf's death, suggesting that Beorhtwulf had been their overlord. Charters from his reign show a strained relationship with the church, as he seized land and subsequently returned it. Beorhtwulf and his wife, Sæthryth, may have had two sons, Beorhtfrith and Beorhtric. Beorhtwulf's death is not recorded. (Full article...)

Recently featured: "Spinning Around" – Horrible Histories (2009 TV series) – Bharattherium


April 19
Banksia grossa

Banksia grossa is a species of shrub in the plant family Proteaceae endemic to Southwest Australia. It is one of fourteen species of banksia of the series Abietinae, all of which bear predominantly round or oval inflorescences. Collected in 1965, it was described in 1981 by Alex George. Its thick leaves and large seeds distinguish it from other members of the Abietinae, and are the basis of its species name. Found in sand or sand over laterite among heath between Eneabba and Badgingarra in Western Australia, it grows as a many-stemmed shrub to 1 m (3 ft) high with narrow leaves and oval brownish flower spikes up to 10 cm (4 in) high, composed of hundreds of individual flowers. Flowering occurs throughout the cooler months of March to September. Old flower spikes develop woody follicles which bear the seeds. The plant takes 5 to 7 years to reach maturity and begin flowering. After bushfire, Banksia grossa regenerates from its woody lignotuber; bushfires also stimulate the release of seeds, which germinate after disturbance. Visitors to (and likely pollinators of) inflorescences include insects and a nocturnal mammal, the white-tailed dunnart. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Beorhtwulf of Mercia – "Spinning Around" – Horrible Histories (2009 TV series)


April 20

The Paramount Television Network was a venture in the late 1940s by American film corporation Paramount Pictures to organize a television network. The company had built television stations KTLA in Los Angeles and WBKB in Chicago, and had invested $400,000 in the DuMont Television Network, which operated stations in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh. The Paramount Television Network aired several programs, including the Emmy award-winning children's series Time for Beany, and distributed them to an ad-hoc network of stations. It signed affiliation agreements with more than 50 television stations in 1950; despite this, most of Paramount's series were not widely viewed outside the West Coast. The Federal Communications Commission prevented the studio from acquiring additional television stations. Escalating disputes between Paramount and DuMont concerning breaches of contract, company control, and network competition erupted regularly between 1940 and 1956, and led to the dismantling of the DuMont Network. Paramount continued to produce series for other networks, and re-entered the broadcast network field in 1995 with the United Paramount Network. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Banksia grossa – Beorhtwulf of Mercia – "Spinning Around"


April 21
Hurricane Kiko

Hurricane Kiko was one of the strongest tropical cyclones to ever make landfall on the eastern coast of the Baja California Peninsula. The eleventh named storm of the 1989 Pacific hurricane season, Kiko formed out of a large mesoscale convective system on August 25. Slowly tracking northwestward, the storm rapidly intensified into a hurricane early the next day. Strengthening continued until early August 27, when Kiko reached its peak intensity with winds of 120 mph (195 km/h). The storm turned west at this time, and at around 0600 UTC, the storm made landfall near Punta Arena on the southern tip of Baja California. The hurricane rapidly weakened into a tropical storm later that day and further into a tropical depression by August 28, shortly after entering the Pacific Ocean. The depression persisted for another day while tracking southward, before being absorbed by nearby Tropical Storm Lorena. Though Kiko made landfall as a Category 3 hurricane, its impact was relatively minor. Press reports indicated that 20 homes were destroyed and numerous highways were flooded by torrential rains. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Paramount Television Network – Banksia grossa – Beorhtwulf of Mercia


April 22
1865 two-cent piece

The two-cent piece was produced by the U.S. Mint for circulation from 1864 to 1872 and for collectors in 1873. It was designed by James B. Longacre. The economic turmoil of the American Civil War caused government-issued coins, even the non-silver Indian Head cent, to vanish from circulation, hoarded by the public. One means of filling this gap was private token issues, often made of bronze. The cent at that time was struck of a copper-nickel alloy. The piece was difficult for the Philadelphia Mint to strike, and Mint officials, as well as the annual Assay Commission, recommended the coin's replacement. Despite opposition from those wishing to keep the metal nickel in the coinage, Congress passed the Coinage Act of 1864, authorizing bronze cents and two-cent pieces. Although initially popular in the absence of other federal coinage, the two-cent piece's place in circulation was later usurped by the three-cent piece and the nickel. There were decreasing mintages each year, and it was abolished by the Mint Act of 1873. Large quantities were redeemed by the government and melted. Nevertheless, two-cent pieces remain inexpensive by the standards of 19th-century American coinage. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Hurricane Kiko (1989) – Paramount Television Network – Banksia grossa


April 23
Soldiers of the 13th Waffen Mountain Division

The 13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Handschar (1st Croatian) was a German mountain infantry division of the Waffen-SS during World War II. Raised in the Independent State of Croatia, it was given the title Handschar after a fighting knife carried by Turkish policemen when the region was part of the Ottoman Empire. From March to December 1944, it fought a counter-insurgency campaign against communist-led Yugoslav Partisan resistance forces. The first non-Germanic Waffen-SS division, it was composed of Bosnian Muslims with some Catholic Croat soldiers and mostly German and ethnic German officers and non-commissioned officers. It swore allegiance to Adolf Hitler and the Croatian leader Ante Pavelić. It established a designated "security zone" in north-eastern Bosnia but fought outside the zone on several occasions. It gained a reputation for brutality and savagery during combat operations and atrocities against Serb and Jewish civilians. After late 1944, non-German members began to desert in large numbers, particularly once they had retreated inside the Reich frontier. Others surrendered to British forces. Thirty-eight officers were extradited to Yugoslavia, and ten were executed. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Two-cent piece (United States) – Hurricane Kiko (1989) – Paramount Television Network


April 24
A page of the Vita Sancti Wilfrithi

Wilfrid (c. 633c. 709) was an English bishop. The abbot of a monastery at Ripon, he advocated the Roman method for calculating the date of Easter at the Synod of Whitby in 664 and was appointed Bishop of Northumbria as a result. After Wilfrid quarrelled with Ecgfrith, the Northumbrian king, Theodore of Tarsus (the Archbishop of Canterbury) implemented some reforms in the diocese despite Wilfrid's opposition. Pope Agatho ruled in Wilfrid's favour, but Ecgfrith imprisoned Wilfrid before exiling him. Aldfrith, Ecgfrith's successor, allowed Wilfrid to return, but later expelled him. Wilfrid again appealed to Rome, and eventually regained possession of his Northumbrian monasteries. After Wilfrid's death, he was venerated as a saint. His followers commissioned a Life of Wilfrid (page from an 11th-century copy pictured), and the medieval historian Bede also wrote extensively about him. Wilfrid lived ostentatiously and claimed to be the first Englishman to introduce the Rule of Saint Benedict into English monasteries. Some modern historians see him as a champion of Roman customs against those of the British and Irish churches, others as an advocate for monasticism. (Full article...)

Recently featured: 13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Handschar (1st Croatian) – Two-cent piece (United States) – Hurricane Kiko (1989)


April 25

Startling Stories was an American pulp science fiction magazine, published by Standard Magazines from 1939 to 1955. Its first editor was Mort Weisinger, who also edited Thrilling Wonder Stories, Standard's other science fiction title. Startling ran a lead novel in every issue; the first was The Black Flame by Stanley G. Weinbaum. The magazine focused on younger readers, and, when Weisinger was replaced by Oscar J. Friend in 1941, the magazine became even more juvenile in focus. Sam Merwin, Jr., Friend's successor, was able to improve the quality of the fiction substantially, publishing Arthur C. Clarke's Against the Fall of Night and other well-received stories. Earle K. Bergey painted almost every cover between 1942 and 1952, equipping his heroines with brass bras and implausible costumes; the public image of science fiction in his day was partly created by his work. In later years, competition affected the magazine's ability to acquire quality material. In mid-1952, Standard attempted to change Startling's image by adopting a more sober title typeface and reducing the covers' sensationalism, but the pulp magazine market was collapsing and publication ceased in 1955. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Wilfrid – 13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Handschar (1st Croatian) – Two-cent piece (United States)


April 26
Illustration of the second edition, "Look what a fine morning it is"

Original Stories from Real Life is the only complete work of children's literature by the 18th-century British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. It begins with a frame story that sketches out the education of two young girls by their maternal teacher Mrs. Mason, followed by a series of didactic tales. The book was first published by Joseph Johnson in 1788; a second, illustrated edition, with engravings (pictured) by William Blake, was released in 1791 and remained in print for around a quarter of a century. Wollstonecraft employed the then burgeoning genre of children's literature to promote the education of women and an emerging middle-class ideology. She argued that women would be able to become rational adults if they were educated properly as children, which was not a widely held belief in the 18th century, and contended that the nascent middle-class ethos was superior to the court culture represented by fairy tales and to the values of chance and luck found in chapbook stories for the poor. Wollstonecraft, in developing her own pedagogy, also responded to the works of the two most important educational theorists of the 18th century: John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Startling Stories – Wilfrid – 13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Handschar (1st Croatian)


April 27
Trocaz Pigeon

The Trocaz Pigeon is a pigeon endemic to the island of Madeira. It is a mainly grey bird with a pinkish breast; its silvery neck patch and lack of white wing markings distinguish it from its close relative and probable ancestor, the Common Wood Pigeon. It is about 40–45 cm (16–18 in) long with a 68–74 cm (27–29 in) wingspan. Its call is a characteristic six-note cooing, weaker and lower-pitched than that of the Wood Pigeon. Despite its bulky, long-tailed appearance, it has a fast, direct flight. A scarce resident breeder in laurisilva forests, it lays one white egg in a flimsy twig nest. It was formally described in 1829 by Karl Heineken, a German medical doctor and ornithologist, who recognised it as different from the now-extinct local form of the Common Wood Pigeon. Its numbers fell sharply after human colonisation of the Madeira archipelago, and it vanished altogether from Porto Santo Island. The major cause of its population decline was habitat loss from forest clearance, but hunting and nest predation by introduced rats were also contributory factors. Protection of forests and a ban on hunting have enabled numbers to increase, and the species is no longer considered endangered. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Original Stories from Real Life – Startling Stories – Wilfrid


April 28
Part of U.S. Route 40 Alternate in Garrett County

U.S. Route 40 Alternate (Alt US 40) is the U.S. Highway designation for a former segment of U.S. Route 40 (US 40) through Garrett and Allegany counties in Maryland. The highway begins at US 40 near exit 14 on Interstate 68 and runs 31.80 miles (51.18 km) eastward to Cumberland, where it ends at exit 44 on Interstate 68. The highway is known as Old National Pike because it follows the original alignment of the National Road. As the route of the historic National Road, there are many historic sites along Alt US 40, including the Casselman Bridge in Grantsville and the last remaining National Road toll gate house in Maryland, located in LaVale. When the National Freeway was built in western Maryland paralleling the old National Road, the part of the bypassed road between Keyser's Ridge and Cumberland became Alt US 40, and other bypassed sections east of Cumberland became Maryland Route 144 and U.S. Route 40 Scenic. Although Alt US 40 is now less important because of the construction of Interstate 68, it remains an important route for local traffic and serves as the Main Streets of Grantsville and Frostburg. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Trocaz Pigeon – Original Stories from Real Life – Startling Stories


April 29
HMS Endeavour off the coast of Australia. By Samuel Atkins c.1794

HMS Endeavour was the Royal Navy research vessel commanded by Lieutenant James Cook on his first voyage of discovery to Australia and New Zealand from 1769 to 1771. She was launched in 1764 as the collier Earl of Pembroke, and purchased by the Navy in 1768 for a scientific mission to the Pacific Ocean and to explore for the surmised Terra Australis Incognita. Her voyage took her to Tahiti for the 1769 transit of Venus, then south into the largely uncharted South Pacific. In September 1769 she reached New Zealand, the first European vessel to visit in 127 years. Seven months later Endeavour became the first ship to reach the east coast of Australia, making landfall in Botany Bay on 29 April 1770. Her return voyage marred by shipwreck and the deaths of one third of her crew, Endeavour reached the port of Dover in July 1771 after nearly three years at sea. In 1776 she returned to naval service for the American Revolutionary War but was scuttled in a blockade of Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. The wreck has not been precisely located, but relics including cannons and an anchor are displayed in maritime museums worldwide. The Space Shuttle Endeavour was named in her honour in 1989. (Full article...)

Recently featured: U.S. Route 40 Alternate (Keysers Ridge–Cumberland, Maryland) – Trocaz Pigeon – Original Stories from Real Life


April 30
The fire-damaged Iranian Embassy

The Iranian Embassy siege took place from 30 April to 5 May 1980, after a group of six armed men stormed the Iranian embassy in London. The gunmen, members of an Iranian Arab group campaigning for Arab national sovereignty in Khūzestān Province, took 26 hostages and demanded the release of Arab prisoners from jails in Khūzestān. Police negotiators gradually secured the release of five hostages in exchange for minor concessions. On the sixth day the gunmen, frustrated at the lack of progress, killed a hostage and threw his body out of the embassy. The British government ordered the Special Air Service (SAS), a special forces regiment, to rescue the hostages. During the 17-minute raid, the SAS rescued all but one of the remaining hostages, and killed five of the gunmen. The hostage-takers and their cause were largely forgotten afterwards, but the operation brought the SAS to public attention. It was overwhelmed by the number of applications it received from people inspired by the operation and experienced greater demand for its expertise from foreign governments. The building suffered major damage from fire (aftermath pictured) and did not reopen as the embassy until 1993. (Full article...)

Recently featured: HMS Endeavour – U.S. Route 40 Alternate (Keysers Ridge–Cumberland, Maryland) – Trocaz Pigeon