19 January 1942

The Japanese conquest of Burma during World War II begins.

The BIA formed a provisional government in some areas of the country in the spring of 1942, but there were differences within the Japanese leadership over the future of Burma. While Colonel Suzuki encouraged the Thirty Comrades to form a provisional government, the Japanese military leadership had never formally accepted such a plan. Eventually, the Japanese Army turned to Ba Maw to form a government.

During the war in 1942, the BIA had grown in an uncontrolled manner, and in many districts officials and even criminals appointed themselves to the BIA. It was reorganised as the Burma Defence Army under the Japanese but still headed by Aung San. While the BIA had been an irregular force, the BDA was recruited by selection and trained as a conventional army by Japanese instructors.

Ba Maw was afterwards declared head of state, and his cabinet included both Aung San as War Minister and the Communist leader Thakin Than Tun as Minister of Land and Agriculture as well as the Socialist leaders Thakins Nu and Mya. When the Japanese declared Burma, in theory, independent in 1943, the Burma Defence Army was renamed the Burma National Army.

The flag of the State of Burma, used 1943-5.
It soon became apparent that Japanese promises of independence were merely a sham and that Ba Maw was deceived. As the war turned against the Japanese, they declared Burma a fully sovereign state on 1 August 1943, but this was just another façade. Disillusioned, Aung San began negotiations with Communist leaders Thakin Than Tun and Thakin Soe, and Socialist leaders Ba Swe and Kyaw Nyein which led to the formation of the Anti-Fascist Organisation in August 1944 at a secret meeting of the CPB, the PRP and the BNA in Pegu. The AFO was later renamed the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League, and roundly opposed the Japanese fascism, proposing a fairer and more equal society.

Thakins Than Tun and Soe, while in Insein prison in July 1941, had co-authored the Insein Manifesto which, against the prevailing opinion in the Dobama movement, identified world fascism as the main enemy in the coming war and called for temporary co-operation with the British in a broad allied coalition which should include the Soviet Union. Soe had already gone underground to organise resistance against the Japanese occupation, and Than Tun was able to pass on Japanese intelligence to Soe, while other Communist leaders Thakins Thein Pe and Tin Shwe made contact with the exiled colonial government in Simla, India.

18 January 1976

Lebanese Christian militias kill at over 1000 in Karantina, Beirut.

The Ahrar and the Phalangist militias based in Damour and Dayr al Nama had been blocking the coastal road leading to southern Lebanon and the Chouf, and this turned them into a threat to the PLO and its leftist and nationalist allies in the Lebanese civil war. The Damour massacre was a response to the Karantina massacre of January 18, 1976, in which Phalangists killed from 1,000 up to 1,500 people.

It occurred as part of a series of events during the Lebanese Civil War, in which Palestinians joined the Muslim forces, in the context of the Christian-Muslim divide, and soon Beirut was divided along the Green Line, with Christian enclaves to the east and Muslims to the west.

Twenty Phalangist militiamen were executed, and then civilians were lined up against a wall and sprayed with machine-gun fire. None of the remaining inhabitants survived. An estimated 582 civilians died. Among the killed were family members of Elie Hobeika and his fiancée. Following the Battle of Tel al-Zaatar later the same year, the PLO resettled Palestinian refugees in Damour. After the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, the Zaatar refugees were expelled from Damour, and the original inhabitants brought back.

According to Thomas L. Friedman, the Phalangist Damouri Brigade, which carried out the Sabra and Shatila massacre during the 1982 Lebanon War sought revenge not only for the assassination of Bashir Gemayel, but also for what he describes as past tribal killings of their own people by Palestinians, including those at Damour.

According to an eyewitness, the attack took place from the mountain behind the town. “It was an apocalypse,” said Father Mansour Labaky, a Christian Maronite priest who survived the massacre. “They were coming, thousands and thousands, shouting ‘Allahu Akbar! Let us attack them for the Arabs, let us offer a holocaust to Mohammad!”, and they were slaughtering everyone in their path, men, women and children

17 January 1946

The UN Security Council meets for the first time.

The Security Council held its first session on 17 January 1946 at Church House, Westminster, London. Since its first meeting, the Security Council has taken permanent residence at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. It also travelled to many cities, holding sessions in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1972, in Panama City, Panama, and in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1990.

A representative of each of its members must be present at all times at UN Headquarters so that the Security Council can meet at any time as the need arises.

16 January 1964

“Hello, Dolly!” opened on Broadway, beginning a run of 2,844 performances.

On January 16, 1964, “Hello, Dolly!” starring Carol Channing opened on Broadway at the St. James Theatre. The musical, about a meddling matchmaker and a curmudgeonly “half-a-millionaire” bachelor, sold out instantly. During the Broadway musical’s six-year run, it had critical and popular success, winning 10 Tony Awards at the 18th Annual Tonys. Dolly became Channing’s signature role. However, throughout the show’s original 2,844 performances, many legendary actresses went on to play the legendary part, including Pearl Bailey, Phyllis Diller and Ethel Merman.

With lyrics and music by Jerry Herman and the book by Michael Stewart, “Hello, Dolly!” was based on Thornton Wilder’s play, “The Merchant of Yonkers”, which was later rewritten with a more expanded role for Dolly in “The Matchmaker”. The source material for Wilder’s play came from the 1835 play, “A Day Well Spent,” by English writer John Oxenford. The plot revolves around a strong-minded matchmaker, Dolly Gallagher Levi, who travels to Yonkers, NY with the mission of finding a wife for the prickly half-millionaire bachelor, Horace Vandergelder.

Although Dolly has promised a suitable match for Horace in New York City, she finds Horace lovable and decides that she wants to be his bride instead. However, before Dolly and Horace end up together at the play’s conclusion, entertaining shenanigans, set to catchy show tunes, ensue. Dolly sabotages her original match for Horace and tricks Horace into dining with her. She also convinces his two store clerks, as well as Horace’s niece and her boyfriend, to come to New York City. The four characters have their own entertaining experiences in the Big Apple. With songs like, “Hello, Dolly!” and “Before The Parade Passes By,” the original cast album was No. 1 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart for seven weeks, which is especially amazing given that it was released when rock music reigned supreme in the 1960s.

Thanks to her iconic performance as Dolly, Channing won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. She famously beat out Barbra Streisand, who was nominated for her performance in “Funny Girl.” In a fun twist, Streisand played Dolly in the film version of “Hello! Dolly” in 1969. A testament to Channing’s immense popularity, the actress became the first celebrity to perform at a Super Bowl halftime show in 1970. Her performance of the “When The Saints Go Marching In” was so popular that she was invited back in 1972.

The most recent revival of “Hello, Dolly!” opened on April 20, 2017, at the Shubert Theatre, starring Bette Midler, who won a Tony for the role. You can still see the enduring classic musical on Broadway, now featuring Bernadette Peters as Dolly.

15 January 1943

The Pentagon is dedicated in Arlington, Virginia.

The world’s largest office building, construction began on the Pentagon on September 11, 1941. Designed by architect George Bergstrom, approved construction contracts totaled $3.1 million. The original site for this government facility was Arlington Farms, which was shaped like a pentagon. This is why the building is shaped as such. However, concerns that the building might obstruct the view of Washington, D.C. from Arlington Cemetery, President Roosevelt opted for the Hoover Airport site.The Pentagon took less than two years to complete and was dedicated on January 15, 1943.

Some interesting facts about this historical building:

Design work for the building proceeded during actual construction. Sometimes construction would get ahead of design and different materials were used than specified in the final plans.

Due to racial segregation, the Pentagon was constructed with separate dining and toilet facilities. In June 1941, President Roosevelt ordered the end to discrimination and to remove the “Whites Only” signage. At the time, and for many years after completion, the Pentagon was the only building in Virginia where segregation was not allowed.

Construction contracts were approved on September 11, 1941 and construction began that same day.

Due to steel shortage the building’s height was capped at just over 77 feet and was built as a reinforced concrete structure. This explains its vast “sprawl” across nearly 29 acres.

Rather than elevators, concrete ramps were built.

Engineers used 680,000 tons of sand from the Potomac River. Indiana limestone was used for the facade.

The Pentagon uses six zip codes and it’s registered postal address is Washington, D.C., even though it is located in the state of Virginia.

The square footage of the Pentagon is 6,636,360 square feet. The parking lot is 67 acres.

During the Cold Ware, the central plaza was referred to as “ground zero” based on concerns the Soviet Union would target nuclear missiles to that location.

While the Pentagon has undergone many improvements over the years, the core design of this unique structure remains intact. Today, nearly 3,700,000 square feet are used as offices, and the building houses about 28,000 military and civilian personnel.

13 January 1968

Johnny Cash performs live at Folsom State Prison to record an album.

At Folsom Prison is a live album and 27th overall album by Johnny Cash, released on Columbia Records in May 1968. Since his 1955 song “Folsom Prison Blues”, Cash had been interested in performing at a prison. His idea was put on hold until 1967, when personnel changes at Columbia Records put Bob Johnston in charge of producing Cash’s material. Cash had recently controlled his drug abuse problems, and was looking to turn his career around after several years of limited commercial success. Backed with June Carter, whom he married later that year; Carl Perkins and the Tennessee Three, Cash performed two shows at Folsom State Prison in California on January 13, 1968. The resulting album consisted of 15 tracks from the first show and two tracks from the second.

Despite little initial investment by Columbia, the album was a hit in the United States, reaching number one on the country charts and the top 15 of the national album chart. The lead single from the album, a live version of “Folsom Prison Blues”, was a top 40 hit, Cash’s first since 1964’s “Understand Your Man”.

At Folsom Prison received good reviews upon its release and the ensuing popularity revitalized Cash’s career, leading to the release of a second prison album, At San Quentin. The album was re-released with additional tracks in 1999 and as a three-disc set in 2008. It was certified Gold on October 30, 1968, Platinum and 2x Platinum on November 21, 1986 and 3x Platinum on March 27, 2003 by the RIAA.