28
Mar
08

On This Day, 3-28-08: Jesse Owens

Nuclear accident at Three Mile Island

At 4 a.m. on March 28, 1979, the worst accident in the history of the U.S. nuclear power industry begins when a pressure valve in the Unit-2 reactor at Three Mile Island fails to close. Cooling water, contaminated with radiation, drained from the open valve into adjoining buildings, and the core began to dangerously overheat.

The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant was built in 1974 on a sandbar on Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River, just 10 miles downstream from the state capitol in Harrisburg. In 1978, a second state-of-the-art reactor began operating on Three Mile Island, which was lauded for generating affordable and reliable energy in a time of energy crises.

After the cooling water began to drain out of the broken pressure valve on the morning of March 28, 1979, emergency cooling pumps automatically went into operation. Left alone, these safety devices would have prevented the development of a larger crisis. However, human operators in the control room misread confusing and contradictory readings and shut off the emergency water system. The reactor was also shut down, but residual heat from the fission process was still being released. By early morning, the core had heated to over 4,000 degrees, just 1,000 degrees short of meltdown. In the meltdown scenario, the core melts, and deadly radiation drifts across the countryside, fatally sickening a potentially great number of people.

“Nuclear accident at Three Mile Island.” 2008. The History Channel website. 28 Mar 2008, 12:17 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6850.

1774 – Britain passed the Coercive Act against Massachusetts.

1834 – The U.S. Senate voted to censure President Jackson for the removal of federal deposits from the Bank of the United States.

1854 – The Crimean War began with Britain and France declaring war on Russia.

1865 – Outdoor advertising legislation was enacted in New York. The law banned “painting on stones, rocks and trees.”

1898 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a child born in the U.S. to Chinese immigrants was a U.S. citizen. This meant that they could not be deported under the Chinese Exclusion Act.

1917 – During World War I the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was founded.

1933 – In Germany, the Nazis ordered a ban on all Jews in businesses, professions and schools.

1941 – The Italian fleet was defeated by the British at the Battle of Matapan.

1942 – British naval forces raided the Nazi occupied French port of St. Nazaire.

1945 – Germany launched the last of the V-2 rockets against England.

1986 – The U.S. Senate passed $100 million aid package for the Nicaraguan contras.

1990 – Jesse Owens received the Congressional Gold Medal from U.S. President George Bush.

Funeral held for the man behind the guillotine

The funeral of Guillotin, the inventor and namesake of the infamous execution device, takes place outside of Paris, France. Guillotin had what he felt were the purest motives for inventing the guillotine and was deeply distressed at how his reputation had become besmirched in the aftermath.

Guillotin had bestowed the deadly contraption on the French as a “philanthropic gesture” for the systematic criminal justice reform that was taking place in 1789. The machine was intended to show the intellectual and social progress of the Revolution; by killing aristocrats and journeymen the same way, equality in death was ensured.

The first use of the guillotine was on April 25 1792, when Nicolas Pelletier was put to death for armed robbery and assault in Place de Greve. The newspapers reported that guillotine was not an immediate sensation. The crowds seemed to miss the gallows at first. However, it quickly caught on with the public and many thought it brought dignity back to the executioner.

However, the prestige of the guillotine fell precipitously due to its frequent use in the French Terror following the Revolution. It became the focal point of the awful political executions and was so closely identified with the terrible abuses of the time that it was perceived as partially responsible for the excesses itself. Still, it was used sporadically in France into the 20th century.

“Funeral held for the man behind the guillotine.” 2008. The History Channel website. 28 Mar 2008, 12:24 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=952.

1939: Spanish Civil War ends

In Spain, the Republican defenders of Madrid raise the white flag over the city, and the bloody three-year Spanish Civil War comes to an end. The conflict began in 1936 when General Francisco Franco led a right-wing army revolt in Morocco, dividing Spain into two camps, the Republicans and the Nationalists. The Republicans, made up of Catalonian and Basque patriots and an uneasy alliance of leftist radicals, suffered steady losses against Franco’s Nationalists. Franco appealed to the fascist regimes of Germany and Italy for help, while the USSR aided the Republican side. In addition, thousands of idealistic radicals from France, America, and elsewhere formed the International Brigades to aid the Republican cause. In early 1939, Catalonia fell to Franco; soon after, Madrid fell too. Up to a million lives were lost in the conflict, the most devastating in Spanish history.

http://www.thehistorychannel.co.uk/site/this_day_in_history/

Although I wasn’t invited to shake hands with Hitler, I wasn’t invited to the White House to shake hands with the President either.
Jesse Owens

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