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Sunday, October 7, 2012

On this WEEK in HISTORY: October 8 to 14

Oct 08, 1871 Great Chicago Fire begins

Artist's rendering of the fire, by John R. Chapin, originally printed in Harper's Weekly;
 the view faces northeast across the Randolph Street Bridge.
On this day in 1871 began the two-day Great Chicago Fire which left four square miles of the Windy City in ruins including its business district. The blaze killed around 200 to 300 people, destroyed 17,450 buildings, left 100,000 homeless and caused an estimated $200 million  in damages-over $3 billion worth at this time! Dry weather and an abundance of wooden buildings, streets and sidewalks made Chicago vulnerable to fire. The city averaged two fires per day in 1870; with 20 fires throughout Chicago a week before the Great Fire. 

It was reported that the flames was sparked in the Chicago barn of Patrick and Catherine O'Leary with 
popular legend blaming a cow which  kicked over a lantern in the barn.  Other theories blamed the cause on humans or even a comet. In 1997, the Chicago City Council exonerated Mrs. O'Leary and her cow. She turned into a recluse after the fire, and died in 1895.

Oct 09, 1967 Che Guevara is executed.


On this day in 1967, socialist revolutionary and guerrilla leader Che Guevara, age 39, is killed by the Bolivian army. The U.S.-military-backed Bolivian forces captured Guevara on October 8 and assassinated him the next day. His hands were cut off as proof of death and his body was buried in an unmarked grave. He played a key role in Fidel Castro's seizure of power from Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959 and later served as Castro's right-hand man and minister of industry. He strongly opposed U.S. domination in Latin America and advocated peasant-based revolutions to combat social injustice in Third World countries. Castro later described him as "an artist of revolutionary warfare."
"Guerrillero HerĂ³ico". That's how Alberto Korda named his
photograph of Che Guevara, which is the most reproduced in all times
Guevara achieved hero status following his death around the world as a symbol of anti-imperialism and revolution. A 1960 photo taken by Alberto Korda of Guevara in a beret became iconic and has since appeared on countless posters and T-shirts. However, not everyone considers Guevara a hero: He is accused, among other things, of ordering the deaths of hundreds of people in Cuban prisons during the revolution. In 1997, Guevara's remains were found and sent back to Cuba, where they were reburied in a ceremony attended by President Fidel Castro and thousands of Cubans.

Oct 10, 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking ends 

Achille Lauro
The hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro reaches a dramatic climax when U.S. Navy F-14 fighters intercept an Egyptian airliner attempting to fly the Palestinian hijackers to freedom and force the jet to land at a NATO base in Sigonella, Sicily. American and Italian troops surrounded the plane, and the terrorists were taken into Italian custody.

Oct 11, 2002 Jimmy Carter wins Nobel Prize


On this day in 2002, former President Jimmy Carter wins the Nobel Peace Prize "for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development."

Carter, a peanut farmer from Georgia, served one term as U.S. president between 1977 and 1981. One of his key achievements as president was mediating the peace talks between Israel and Egypt in 1978. The Nobel Committee had wanted to give Carter the prize that year for his efforts, along with Anwar Sadat and Menachim Begin, but was prevented from doing so by a technicality--he had not been nominated by the official deadline.

Oct 12, 1492 Columbus reaches the New World

On 3rd August 1492 Christopher Columbus left Spain with three ships. On 12th October 1492
the crew sighted land. It was an island in what is now called The Bahamas.
After sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus sights a Bahamian island, believing he has reached East Asia. His expedition went ashore the same day and claimed the land for Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain, who sponsored his attempt to find a western ocean route to China, India, and the fabled gold and spice islands of Asia.

Oct 13, 1792 White House cornerstone laid

1792 The cornerstone of the White House was laid by George Washington. 
The cornerstone is laid for a presidential residence in the newly designated capital city of Washington. In 1800, President John Adams became the first president to reside in the executive mansion, which soon became known as the "White House" because its white-gray Virginia freestone contrasted strikingly with the red brick of nearby buildings.

Oct 14, 1947 Yeager breaks sound barrier


U.S. Air Force Captain Chuck Yeager becomes the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound.
Captain Chuck Yeager gives an interview next to the prototype Bell X1 Rocket Plane
Yeager was a combat fighter during World War II and flew 64 missions over Europe. He shot down 13 German planes and was himself shot down over France. After the war, he was among several volunteers chosen to test-fly the experimental X-1 rocket plane, built by the Bell Aircraft Company to explore the possibility of supersonic flight. Because of the secrecy of the project, Bell and Yeager's achievement was not announced until June 1948. Yeager continued to serve as a test pilot, and in 1953 he flew 1,650 miles per hour in an X-1A rocket plane. He retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1975 with the rank of brigadier general.


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