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Monday, October 22, 2012

On This Week in History: Oct 22 - Oct 28

summarized from history.com

Oct 22, 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

from historyplace.com
In a televised speech, President John F. Kennedy announces that U.S. spy planes discovered Soviet missile bases in Cuba which he called a "clandestine, reckless, and provocative threat to world peace." These sites nearing completion housed medium-range missiles capable of striking major cities in the United States, including Washington, D.C. He announced that he was ordering a naval "quarantine" of Cuba to prevent Soviet ships from transporting weapons to the island , that the US would not tolerate the existence of the site and made it clear that America would not stop short of military action to end what was then termed as the Cuban Missile Crisis.
reconnaissance photographs revealed Soviet missiles under construction in Cuba
The Crisis began October 15, 1962 when U.S. intelligence discovered Soviets building medium-range missile sites in Cuba. The next day, President Kennedy convened his ExCom (Executive Committee) meeting of senior military, political, and diplomatic advisers which decided to reject a surgical air strike against the missile sites but agreed on a naval quarantine and a demand that the bases be dismantled and missiles removed.  This decision was announced on national television on the night of October 22. During the next six days, the crisis escalated to a breaking point as the world tottered on the brink of nuclear war between the two superpowers where at one point, the U.S. military forces went to DEFCON 2-the highest military alert ever reached in the postwar era, as military commanders prepared for full-scale war with the Soviets. The ExCom even considered authorizing a U.S. invasion of Cuba countered the same day by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev with a proposal to end the crisis- the missile bases would be removed in exchange initially only for a U.S. pledge not to invade Cuba upped the next day by Khrushchev publicly calling for the dismantling of U.S. missile bases in Turkey.  To defuse the worsening crisis, Kennedy agreed to dismantle the U.S. missile sites in Turkey at a later date.
On October 28, Khrushchev announced his government's intent to dismantle and remove all offensive Soviet weapons in Cuba with implementation beginning that afternoon- effectively ending  The Cuban Missile Crisis. In November, Kennedy called off the blockade, and by the end of the year all the offensive missiles had left Cuba. Soon after, the United States quietly removed its missiles from Turkey.

Oct 23, 2002 Hostage crisis in Moscow Theater

Moscow Theater Siege
On October 23, 2002, about 50 Chechen rebels storm a Moscow theater (Moscow Ball-Bearing Plant's Palace of Culture), holding  700 people hostage during a sold-out performance of a popular musical "Nord Ost”. The terrorists identified themselves as members of the Chechen Army and had one demand- that Russian military forces begin an immediate and complete withdrawal from Chechnya, the war-torn region located north of the Caucasus Mountains occupied by Russian forces after Russian authorities blamed Chechens for a series of bombings in Russia.
After a 57-hour-standoff, on the morning of October 26,  Russian Special Forces pumped a powerful narcotic gas into the building, knocking nearly all of the terrorists and hostages unconscious then surrounded and raided the theater by breaking into the walls and roof entering through underground sewage tunnels.  Most of the guerrillas and 120 hostages were killed during the raid. Security forces later defended  the decision to use the dangerous gas, saying that only a complete surprise attack could have disarmed the terrorists before they had time to detonate their explosives.  After the theater crisis, President Vladimir Putin clamped down even harder on Chechnya. In response, Chechen rebels continued their terrorist attacks on Russian soil.

Oct 24, 1901 First barrel ride down Niagara Falls

Queen of the Mist
On this day in 1901, a 63-year-old school teacher Annie Edson Taylor becomes the first person to take the plunge over Niagara Falls in a barrel. In July 1901, the New York-born Taylor read about the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo and the growing popularity of two enormous waterfalls located on the border of upstate New York and Canada. Strapped for cash and seeking fame, Taylor came up with the perfect attention-getting stunt- going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. She took the ride on her birthday, October 24. (at age 40- but records later showed she was 63.) She was strapped into a leather harness inside an old wooden pickle barrel five feet high and three feet in diameter with cushions lining the barrel to break her fall. Taylor was towed by a small boat into the middle of the fast-flowing Niagara River and cut loose.
Knocked violently from side to side by the rapids and then propelled over the edge of Horseshoe Falls, Taylor reached the shore alive but battered, around 20 minutes after her journey began. After a brief flurry of photo-ops and speaking engagements, Taylor's fame cooled, and she was unable to make the fortune for which she had hoped. She did, however, inspire a number of copy-cat daredevils between 1901 and 1995 where 15 people went over the falls 10 of them survived. No matter the method, going over Niagara Falls is illegal, and survivors face charges and stiff fines on either side of the border. 

Oct 25, 1881 Pablo Picasso born

Pablo Picasso
On this day in 1881 Pablo Picasso was born on this day at Malaga, Spain- one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century.
Picasso had his first exhibit at age 13 and later quit art school so he could experiment full-time with modern art styles. He went to Paris for the first time in 1900, and in 1901 was given an exhibition at a gallery on Paris' rue Lafitte. His work, which comprises more than 50,000 paintings, drawings, engravings, sculptures, and ceramics produced over 80 years, is described in a series of overlapping periods. His first notable period--the "blue period"—he painted in blue tones to evoke the melancholy world of the poor (ex The Old Guitarist). This was followed by the "rose period," which depicted circus scenes and by his early work in sculpture. In 1907, he painted the groundbreaking work Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, 
Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon)
with its fragmented and distorted representation of the human form and is seen as a forerunner of the Cubist movement in 1909 which established the modern principle that artwork need not represent reality to have artistic value. After Cubism, Picasso explored classical and Mediterranean themes, and images of violence and anguish increasingly appeared in his work (example Guernica). His work after World War II is less studied than his earlier creations but he continued to work feverishly and enjoyed commercial and critical success. Known for his intense gaze and domineering personality, he had a series of intense and overlapping love affairs in his lifetime. He continued to produce art until his death in 1973 at the age of 91.

Oct 26, 1881 Shootout at the OK Corral

On this day in 1881, the Earp brothers face off against the Clanton-McLaury gang in a legendary shootout at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona which was one of the richest silver mining towns in the Southwest. Wyatt Earp, a former Kansas police officer working as a bank security guard, and his brothers, Morgan and Virgil, the town marshal, represented "law and order" in Tombstone. The Clantons and McLaurys were cowboys who lived on a ranch outside of town and sidelined as cattle rustlers, thieves and murderers. In October 1881, the struggle between these two groups for control of Tombstone and Cochise County ended in a blaze of gunfire at the OK Corral between the Earp brothers and their friend Doc Holliday on one side AND the Clanton-McLaury gang on the other. When the dust cleared, Billy Clanton and the McLaury brothers were dead and Virgil and Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday were wounded. Ike Clanton and Claiborne had run for the hills.

Sheriff John Behan of Cochise County, who witnessed the shootout, charged the Earps and Holliday with murder. A month later, however, a Tombstone judge found the men not guilty, ruling that they were "fully justified in committing these homicides." The famous shootout has been immortalized in many movies.  

Oct 27, 1904 New York City subway opens

The New York Herald Headline

At 2:35 on the afternoon of October 27, 1904, New York City Mayor George McClellan takes the controls on the inaugural run of the city's innovative new rapid transit system: the subway.

While London boasts the world's oldest underground train network (opened in 1863) and Boston built the first subway in the United States in 1897, the New York City subway soon became the largest American system. The first line traveled 9.1 miles through 28 stations. Running from City Hall in lower Manhattan to Grand Central Terminal in midtown, and then heading west along 42nd Street to Times Square, the line finished by zipping north, all the way to 145th Street and Broadway in Harlem. 
The subway was opened to the general public at 7 p.m. that evening with more than 100,000 people paying a nickel each to take their first ride under Manhattan.  The service expanded to the Bronx in 1905, to Brooklyn in 1908 and to Queens in 1915. The system now  runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week;  has 26 lines and 468 stations in operation; the longest line, the 8th Avenue "A" Express train, stretches more than 32 miles, from the northern tip of Manhattan to the far southeast corner of Queens. Every day, some 4.5 million passengers take the subway in New York. 

Oct 28, 1965 Gateway Arch completed

The arch is it stands 630 feet (192 m) tall, and is 630 feet (192 m) wide at its base.
The cross-sections of its legs are equilateral triangles. Each wall consists of a stainless
steel skin covering reinforced concrete, with carbon steel and rebar from at the peak.
The interior of the Arch is hollow and contains a unique transport system leading to an observation deck at the top.

On this day in 1965, construction is completed on the Gateway Arch, a spectacular 630-foot-high parabola of stainless steel marking the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial on the waterfront of St. Louis, Missouri. The Arch, designed by Finnish-born, American-educated architect Eero Saarinen, was erected to commemorate President Thomas Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase of 1803 and to celebrate St. Louis' central role in the rapid westward expansion that followed.

 In 1947-48, Saarinen won a nationwide competition to design a monument honoring the spirit of the western pioneers. In a sad twist of fate, the architect died of a brain tumor in 1961 and did not live to see the construction of his now-famous arch, which began in February 1963. Completed in October 1965, the Gateway Arch cost less than $15 million to build. In addition to the Gateway Arch, the Jefferson Expansion Memorial includes the Museum of Westward Expansion and the Old Courthouse of St. Louis, where two of the famous Dred Scott slavery cases were heard in the 1860s. Today, some 4 million people visit the park each year to wander its nearly 100 acres, soak up some history and take in the breathtaking views from Saarinen's gleaming arch.

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