5 June 2017

Montenegro becomes the 29th member of the NATO.

Montenegro became NATO’s newest member on Monday 5 June 2017, upon depositing its instrument of accession to the North Atlantic Treaty with the US State Department in Washington DC. At a ceremony marking the occasion, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg underlined that Montenegro’s accession to the Alliance contributes to international peace and security, and sends a strong signal that NATO’s door remains open. The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Duško Markovi? and by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro Srdjan Darmanovi? and was hosted by the United States Undersecretary for Political Affairs Thomas A. Shannon.

“Today, Montenegro joins NATO with a seat at the table as an equal, with an equal voice in shaping our Alliance, and its independence guaranteed,” the Secretary General said. Mr. Stoltenberg noted that NATO will benefit from Montenegro’s insight into the Western Balkans “and the professionalism, bravery and dedication of its men and women in uniform”. He stressed that NATO’s collective pledge, Article 5, has kept Allies safe for almost seven decades.

Allied Foreign Ministers signed Montenegro’s Accession Protocol in May 2016, after which all 28 national parliaments voted to ratify Montenegro’s membership. A flag-raising ceremony for Montenegro will take place at NATO Headquarters on 7 June 2017.

Today marks NATO’s first enlargement since 1 April 2009, when Albania and Croatia joined the Alliance.

4 June 1896

Henry Ford finishes the Ford Quadricycle, his first gasoline-powered automobile.

At approximately 4:00 a.m. on June 4, 1896, in the shed behind his home on Bagley Avenue in Detroit, Henry Ford unveils the “Quadricycle,” the first automobile he ever designed or drove.

Ford was working as the chief engineer for the main plant of the Edison Illuminating Company when he began working on the Quadricycle. On call at all hours to ensure that Detroit had electrical service 24 hours a day, Ford was able to use his flexible working schedule to experiment with his pet project—building a horseless carriage with a gasoline-powered engine. His obsession with the gasoline engine had begun when he saw an article on the subject in a November 1895 issue of American Machinist magazine. The following March, another Detroit engineer named Charles King took his own hand-built vehicle—made of wood, it had a four-cylinder engine and could travel up to five miles per hour—out for a ride, fueling Ford’s desire to build a lighter and faster gasoline-powered model.

As he would do throughout his career, Ford used his considerable powers of motivation and organization to get the job done, enlisting friends–including King–and assistants to help him bring his vision to life. After months of work and many setbacks, Ford was finally ready to test-drive his creation–basically a light metal frame fitted with four bicycle wheels and powered by a two-cylinder, four-horsepower gasoline engine–on the morning of June 4, 1896. When Ford and James Bishop, his chief assistant, attempted to wheel the Quadricycle out of the shed, however, they discovered that it was too wide to fit through the door. To solve the problem, Ford took an axe to the brick wall of the shed, smashing it to make space for the vehicle to be rolled out.

With Bishop bicycling ahead to alert passing carriages and pedestrians, Ford drove the 500-pound Quadricycle down Detroit’s Grand River Avenue, circling around three major thoroughfares. The Quadricycle had two driving speeds, no reverse, no brakes, rudimentary steering ability and a doorbell button as a horn, and it could reach about 20 miles per hour, easily overpowering King’s invention. Aside from one breakdown on Washington Boulevard due to a faulty spring, the drive was a success, and Ford was on his way to becoming one of the most formidable success stories in American business history.

3 June 1539

Hernando de Soto claims Florida for Spain.

In 1537 de Soto appealed to the King of Spain to be granted control of the New World territorial province that stretched from Rio de Las Palmas in South America to Florida. De Soto won his claim and was also granted the governorship of Cuba. However, his appointment stipulated that, within a year, he had to personally re-conquer and occupy Spanish Florida at his own expense. Previous ventures to South America with Pizarro had earned de Soto tremendous wealth and prestige; as a result, he found several willing financial partners for the venture, some of who accompanied de Soto on the actual voyage. He assembled and armada of 10 ships and 600 men. In April of 1538 his fleet departed from the port of San Lucar, Spain, for the shores of the New World. He landed in Cuba, remaining on the island for a few months to gather supplies, rest his men, and plan his expedition in Florida.

De Soto landed in Florida in May of 1539 and claimed formal possession of the land on June 3 despite ongoing hostility between his men and some of the neighboring Indian tribes. Welcomed by one local Native American chief, de Soto and his crew wintered in the village of Apalache before beginning their expedition. De Soto supposed that great indigenous civilizations, like those he encountered on voyages to South America, lay in the region’s interior. Determined to garner further plunder for both his own interests and for the Spanish court, de Soto and his men headed northward through present-day Georgia. Once reaching the Piedmont, or the Appalachian foothills, de Soto turned his forces westward, exploring the Carolinas and Tennessee. Though he located the Tennessee River, de Soto had failed to find the material wealth and plunder after which he sought.

Disappointed and weary, in 1540 de Soto attempted to head south to Mobile Bay in Alabama to rendezvous with his ships. Two hundred miles south of the Tennessee River, de Soto and his men encountered a warrior band led by Chief Tuscaloosa. The Native American forces were ill equipped to fight the Spaniards, and the ensuring battle proved disastrous for Tuscaloosa’s men. The clash was perhaps the bloodiest single encounter between Native Americans and whites in American history. Crippled by the encounter with Tuscaloosa and running short on supplies, de Soto continued to head south, believing that he would not meet with further resistance. A few miles from the headwaters of Mobile Bay, however, the indigenous peoples at Mauvilia confronted de Soto’s men. The local Native Americans were decimated, and the Spanish forces were weakened severely. Losing most of his men, supplies, and plunder, de Soto rashly decided to extend his expedition and recoup his losses instead of immediately returning to Spain.

After regrouping with some of his fleet and resting for a month, de Soto again pushed northward—though this time the decision would prove fatal. His expedition was plagued by Indian attacks as they made their way through western Alabama and Mississippi. On May 21, 1541, de Soto became the first European to sight the Mississippi River. He encountered the river south of Memphis, Tennessee, and instead of following the river and charting its path to the Gulf of Mexico, de Soto crossed the river into Arkansas in search of more wealth. The expedition was fruitless and de Soto lost more of his already diminished crew to fatigue and disease. Resolved to finally reunite with his fleet and return to Spain, de Soto decided to turn back and follow the Mississippi River southward. De Soto fell ill, most likely with Yellow Fever, and died in Louisiana on May 21, 1542, exactly one year after first sighting the Mississippi River.

The surviving members of de Soto’s crew endured perhaps the most trying part of their travels after de Soto’s demise. Continuing their way southward, they were unable to return to the remnants of de Soto’s fleet. They made their way to Mexico via handmade rafts and eventually caught passage back to Spain. De Soto’s second in command, Luis de Moscoso, arrived at the Spanish court over a year and half after de Soto’s death.

2 June 2012

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the killing of demonstrators during the 2011 Egyptian revolution.

On 24 May 2011, Mubarak was ordered to stand trial on charges of premeditated murder of peaceful protesters during the revolution and, if convicted, could face the death penalty. The decision to try Mubarak was made days before a scheduled protest in Tahrir Square. The full list of charges released by the public prosecutor was “intentional murder, attempted killing of some demonstrators … misuse of influence, deliberately wasting public funds and unlawfully making private financial gains and profits”.

On 28 May, a Cairo administrative court found Mubarak guilty of damaging the national economy during the protests by shutting down the Internet and telephone services. He was fined LE200 million—about US$33.6 million—which the court ordered he must pay from his personal assets. This was the first court ruling against Mubarak, who would next have to answer to the murder charges.

The trial of Hosni Mubarak, his sons Ala’a and Gamal, former interior minister Habib el-Adly and six former top police officials began on 3 August 2011 at a temporary criminal court at the Police Academy in north Cairo. They were charged with corruption and the premeditated killing of peaceful protesters during the mass movement to oust the Mubarak government, the latter of which carries the death penalty. The trial was broadcast on Egyptian television; Mubarak made an unexpected appearance—his first since his resignation. He was taken into the court on a hospital bed and held in a cage for the session. Upon hearing the charges against him, Mubarak pleaded not guilty. Judge Ahmed Refaat adjourned the court, ruling that Mubarak be transferred under continued arrest to the military hospital on the outskirts of Cairo. The second court session scheduled for 15 August. On 15 August, the resumed trial lasted three hours. At the end of the session, Rifaat announced that the third session would take place on 5 September and that the remainder of the proceedings would be off-limits to television cameras.

Riot police outside the courthouse where Mubarak was being sentenced on 2 June 2012

The trial resumed in December 2011 and lasted until January 2012. The defense strategy was that Mubarak never actually resigned, was still president, and thus had immunity. On 2 June 2012, Mubarak was found guilty of not halting the killing of protesters by the Egyptian security forces; he was sentenced to life imprisonment. The court found Mubarak not guilty of ordering the crackdown on Egyptian protesters. All other charges against Mubarak, including profiteering and economic fraud, were dismissed. Mubarak’s sons, Habib el-Adly, and six senior police officials were all acquitted for their roles in the killing of demonstrators because of a lack of evidence.[97] According to The Guardian, the relatives of those killed by Mubarak’s forces were angered by the verdict. Thousands of demonstrators protested the verdict in Tahrir Square, Arbein Square and Al-Qaed Ibrahim Square.

In January 2013, an appeals court overturned Mubarak’s life sentence and ordered a retrial. He remained in custody and returned to court on 11 May 2013 for a retrial on charges of complicity in the murder of protesters. On 21 August 2013, a Cairo court ordered his release. Judicial sources confirmed that the court had upheld a petition from Mubarak’s longtime lawyer that called for his release. A day later, interim prime minister Hazem El Beblawiordered that Mubarak be put under house arrest.

On 21 May 2014, while awaiting retrial, Mubarak and his sons were convicted on charges of embezzlement; Mubarak was sentenced to three years in prison, while his sons received four-year sentences. The three were fined the equivalent of US$2.9 million, and were ordered to repay US$17.6 million.

In November 2014, conspiracy to kill charges were dismissed by the Cairo Criminal Court on a technicality. The court also cleared Mubarak of corruption charges. On 13 January 2015, Egypt’s Court of Cassation overturned Mubarak’s and his sons’ embezzlement charges, the last remaining conviction against him, and ordered a retrial. A retrial on the corruption charges led to a conviction and sentencing to three years in prison in May 2015 for Mubarak, with four-year terms for his sons, Gamal and Alaa. It was not immediately clear whether the sentence would take into account time already served – Mubarak and his sons have already spent more than three years in prison, so potentially will not have to serve any additional time. Supporters of Mubarak jeered the decision when it was announced in a Cairo courtroom on 9 May. The sentence also included a 125 million Egyptian pound fine, and required the return of 21 million embezzled Egyptian pounds. These amounts were previously paid after the first trial.

1 June 1533

Anne Boleyn is crowned Queen of England.

On 1st June 1533, Whitsun, Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, was crowned queen at Westminster Abbey by her good friend Archbishop Thomas Cranmer.

Anne Boleyn was about six months pregnant and had been married to the king since their official, but secret, ceremony on 25th January 1533. Their marriage had been proclaimed valid just four days before the coronation and this coronation ceremony was the couple’s moment of triumph after the years of waiting and legal wranglings.

Anne must have been so tired after the procession the previous day, but she still managed to make it through the long coronation service and banquet of around 80 dishes.

31 May 1977

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System is completed.

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System was completed in 1977, and carried North Slope oil from Prudhoe Bay at the northern tip of Alaska to the Valdez Marine Terminal in Prince William Sound 800 miles to the south. The pipeline has been recognized as a landmark of engineering although the task was made slightly easier due to lessons learned from the building of the Davidson Ditch, Alaska’s first long-distance combination pipeline and ditch, built some 50 years earlier.

With the laying of the first section of pipe on March 27, 1975, construction began on what at the time was the largest private construction project in American history. More than 28,000 people worked directly on the pipeline at the peak of its construction in the Fall of 1975. Many workers from Fairbanks were hired at the local union halls making Fairbanks the major hiring location for the pipeline. Ft. Wainwright army base in Fairbanks housed workers employed on the project near the city.

Fairbanks was also the major hub for materials and pipe staged at the pipeline yard. The last weld was completed on May 31, 1977. Less than a month later, on June 20, 1977, oil from the North Slope’s Prudhoe Bay field began flowing to the port of Valdez at four miles an hour through the 48-inch-wide pipe. The oil arrived at the port 38 days later.

The completed Trans-Alaskan Pipeline system, including pumping stations, connecting pipelines, and the ice-free Valdez Marine Terminal ended up costing $8 billion and is still in production today.

30 May 1635

The Peace of Prague is signed.

The Peace of Prague was a peace treaty signed on 30 May 1635 by the Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand II and Elector John George I of Saxony representing most of the Protestant Estates of the Holy Roman Empire. It effectively brought to an end the civil war aspect of the Thirty Years’ War; however, the combat actions still carried on due to the continued intervention on German soil by Spain, Sweden, and, from mid-1635, France, until the Peace of Westphalia was concluded in 1648.

Negotiations towards the agreement between the Emperor and the Saxon elector had been instigated by Landgrave George II of Hesse-Darmstadt, who whilst being a Lutheran prince had remained neutral during the Swedish intervention in 1630. Likewise, Elector John George I had initially supported Ferdinand II against the revolting Bohemian estates and maintained a neutral position throughout the following years. However, after continued plundering of the Saxon lands by the troops of the Catholic League, he had joined the Swedish forces of King Gustav Adolph at the 1631 Battle of Breitenfeld. The king’s death at the Battle of Lützen in 1632 and the Protestant defeat at the 1634 Battle of Nördlingen prompted the elector to again switch sides.
Emperor Ferdinand II, c.?1635
The Emperor had seen achieved successes ruined by the Swedish invasion and found himself constrained to transfer extraordinary powers to his Generalissimo Albrecht von Wallenstein. After years of fighting, an inability to reimpose the Catholic confession by force, Wallenstein’s assassination, and the need to put an end to the intervention of foreign powers in German affairs all combined to bring Ferdinand II to the table with a degree of willingness to make concessions towards the Lutheran estates.

29 May 1848

Wisconsin is admitted as the 30th USA state.

May 29, 1848 – Wisconsin Became the 30th State Admitted to the Union.
The state of Wisconsin, wholly formed out of the Northwest Territories, was named after the Wisconsin River. “Wisconsin” means “grassy place” in the Chippewa language.Wisconsin is known as The Badger State. This nickname originally referred to the lead miners of the 1830s, who worked at the Galena lead mines in Illinois. These mines were in northwestern Illinois close to the borders of Wisconsin and Iowa. The Wisconsin miners lived, not in houses, but in temporary caves cut into the hillsides. The caves were described as badger dens and, the miners who lived in them, as badgers. The miners brought the nickname back to Wisconsin. Eventually, the nickname was applied to all of the people of Wisconsin and, finally, to the state itself. The badger was adopted as Wisconsin’s state animal in 1957.

Wisconsin is full of natural beauty, and there is also a standout feature in the man-made wonders department:

The Quadracci Pavilion is a sculptural, postmodern addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum completed in 2001, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The hall’s chancel is shaped like the prow of a ship, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking over Lake Michigan. The signature wings, the Burke Brise Soleil, form a moveable sunscreen with a 217-foot wingspan. The entire structure weighs 90 tons. It takes 3.5 minutes for the wings to open or close, which happens Tuesday through Sunday around noon.

28 May 1977

The Beverly Hills Supper Club in Southgate, Kentucky, is engulfed in fire, killing 165 people inside.

The Beverly Hills Supper Club fire in Southgate, Kentucky, is the third deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history. It occurred on the night of May 28, 1977, during the Memorial Day holiday weekend. A total of 165 people died and more than 200 were injured as a result of the blaze.

On Saturday, May 28, 1977, the Beverly Hills Supper Club was operating beyond capacity, largely due to the popularity of that evening’s Cabaret Room show, featuring popular Hollywood singer and actor John Davidson. Based on its number of exits, the Cabaret Room could safely accommodate about 600 people, according to the calculations of the Fire Marshal; on this night it exceeded capacity, with people seated on ramps and in aisles. According to later estimates based on seating charts and memories of those present, the number of people in the Cabaret Room at 9:00 p.m. on May 28 was somewhere between 900 and 1,300. Regardless of the exact number each gives, sources agree that the room was well beyond its safe holding limit.

Elsewhere in the club, patrons were eating gourmet meals. Later estimates place the total number of people in the Beverly Hills Supper Club on May 28, 1977 at approximately 3,000, substantially more than the 1,500 people fire code allowed at the time for a building with the number of exits the club had.

Near the south exit close to the main bar, opposite end of the building from the Cabaret Room, a wedding reception drew to a close around 8:30 p.m. in the Zebra Room, near the building’s main entrance; some of its guests had complained of the room being excessively warm with loud explosions from beneath the floor, and the group left the building before the end of their allotted time. The room remained vacant from their departure until a minute before 9 p.m., when an employee smelled smoke and opened the Zebra Room’s door to confirm the presence of smoke. She asked another employee to call the Fire Department while she and others grabbed any available fire extinguishers and began trying to fight the flames. Though the employees were not aware of it, their opening of the Zebra Room’s door allowed enough oxygen into the room to cause what had been a smoldering fire in the room’s drop ceiling to flashover and begin to spread rapidly. It quickly became clear that fire extinguishers were useless against the fast-growing blaze. The Fire Department was alerted to the fire at 9:01 p.m. and arrived by 9:05; as they approached, firefighters on the first emergency vehicles could already see smoke coming from the building.

As smoke began to escape the Zebra Room and drift down the hall toward other banquet rooms, patrons and employees nearest to the Zebra Room smelled it. The employees began to urge room occupants to leave the building. However, as the sprawling complex lacked an audible fire alarm, those in more isolated rooms had no way to know that there was a fire in the building until an employee walked the length of the building alerting them. Fire investigators later estimated that the fire, once it spread through the northern doors of the Zebra Room, took only two to five minutes to enter the Cabaret Room; as a result, news of the fire and the first of the smoke and flame reached the Cabaret Room, the farthest point from the Zebra Room, nearly simultaneously. By the time busboy Walter Bailey arrived in the Cabaret Room and interrupted the show to order an evacuation at 9:06 p.m., there was very little time left for the audience of around 1000 people to make their way through the room’s small number of exits. As it spread laterally, the fire also began to spread upwards, engulfing the spiral staircase that would have provided the best exit for those on the second floor of the building.

Around 9:10 p.m., power failed in the building, extinguishing the lights. Panic ensued, and even those who had been calmly moving toward exits in the Cabaret Room began to push and shove each other. The situation was made even more desperate by the fact that of the three exits in the room, two were soon blocked off by the fire, leaving the crowd to funnel through a single exit. Employees outside the exits attempted to pull guests to safety, but the crush of bodies as those behind pushed upon those in front became so solid that no amount of strength could free most of them. Many of those who escaped the crush blocking the northeast fire exit became lost trying to find other exits. The building’s confusing design often led to a set of doors opening into a bar area that funneled frantic guests into a dead end.

Firefighters, alerted that the majority of the building’s occupants were in the Cabaret Room, focused their efforts there, but even the combined efforts of every fire department in the county were simply too little, too late. Temperatures in the Cabaret Room soared into the thousands of degrees and even firefighters, weary and dehydrated, were soon unable to safely attempt any further rescues.
When I got to the inside doors, which is about 30 feet inside the building, I saw these big double doors, and people were stacked like cordwood. They were clear up to the top. They just kept diving out on each other trying to get out. I looked back over the pile of – it wasn’t dead people, there were dead and alive in that pile – and I went in and I just started to grab them two at a time and pull them off the stack, and drag them out…

—?Bruce Rath, Fort Thomas Volunteer Fire Department,
At 11:30 p.m. fire command, suspecting that the building’s roof would soon collapse, ordered all firefighters to evacuate the building. At approximately midnight, the roof did indeed implode onto what remained of the building. The magnitude of the blaze was such that firefighters did not have the flames under control until around two o’clock that morning; parts of the building continued to burn until May 30, two days after the fire began.

By the early morning of May 29, 134 bodies had been removed from the building and laid out, initially on the hillside surrounding the building and then in a makeshift morgue inside the nearby Fort Thomas Armory. By the end of June 1, 28 more bodies had been discovered, bringing the death toll up to 162. All but two of the dead were found in and around the Cabaret Room, with 125 clustered near the room’s north exit and another 34 at the room’s southern exit. Two bodies were removed from the Viennese Room. A small number of fire victims died after being rescued from the scene: one on June 25, one on July 2, and the last on March 1, 1978, nearly a year after the fire. This brought the number of verified deaths to 165.

27 May 1883

Alexander III is crowned Tsar of Russia.

On 1 March 1881 Alexander’s father, Alexander II, was assassinated by members of the terrorist organization Narodnaya Volya. As a result, he ascended to the Russian imperial throne in Nennal on 13 March 1881. He and Maria Feodorovna were officially crowned and anointed at the Assumption Cathedral in Moscow on 27 May 1883. Alexander’s ascension to the throne was followed by an outbreak of anti-Jewish riots.

Alexander III disliked the extravagance of the rest of his family. It was also expensive for the Crown to pay so many grand dukes each year. Each one received an annual salary of 250,000 rubles, and grand duchesses received a dowry of a million when they married. He limited the title of grand duke and duchess to only children and male-line grandchildren of emperors. The rest would bear a princely title and the style of Serene Highness. He also forbade morganatic marriages, as well as those outside of the Orthodoxy.