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4th July


1776 United States Declares Independence

The Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by the Continental Congress, on this day. From this moment on, the United States saw itself as independent from Great Britain and its king, although the American War of Independence would run for another 5 years.

It was mostly the work of Thomas Jefferson. The first section of the work contains the lines:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

It cannot be underestimated what a personal risk it was to the signatories of this declaration. But they heroically stood firm against one of the greatest powers the world had ever seen.

Ironic footnote: Two of the signatories of The Declaration of Independence, and two former presidents, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both die on this day in 1826, exactly 50 years after signing the Declaration.


1976: Israelis rescue Entebbe hostages

Israeli commandos have rescued 100 hostages, mostly Israelis or Jews, held by pro-Palestinian hijackers at Entebbe airport in Uganda.

At about 0100 local time (2200GMT), Ugandan soldiers and the hijackers were taken completely by surprise when three Hercules transport planes landed after a 2,500-mile trip from Israel.

About 200 elite troops ran out and stormed the airport building.

During a 35-minute battle, 20 Ugandan soldiers and all seven hijackers died along with three hostages.

This operation will certainly be inscribed in the annals of military history, in legend and in national tradition.
Yitzhak Rabin, Israeli Prime Minister
The leader of the assault force, Lieutenant Colonel Yonatan Netanyahu, was also shot dead by a Ugandan sentry.

The Israelis destroyed 11 Russian-built MiG fighters, which amounted to a quarter of Uganda's air force.

The surviving hostages were then flown to Israel with a stopover in Nairobi, Kenya, where some of the injured were treated by Israeli doctors and at least two transferred to hospital there.

Speaking at the Israeli Knesset (parliament) this afternoon, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin who ordered the raid said: "This operation will certainly be inscribed in the annals of military history, in legend and in national tradition."

Air France plane seized

The crisis began on 27 June, when four militants seized an Air France flight, flying from Israel to Paris via Athens, with 250 people on board.

The hijackers - two from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and two from Germany's Baader-Meinhof gang - diverted the plane to Entebbe, where it arrived on 28 June.

The hijackers - who were joined by three more colleagues - demanded the release of 53 militants held in jails in Israel and four other countries.

Uganda's President and dictator Idi Amin arrived at the airport to give a speech in support of the PFLP and supplied the hijackers with extra troops and weapons.

On 1 July, the hijackers released a large number of hostages but continued to hold captive the remaining 100 passengers who were Israelis or Jews.

Those who were freed were flown to Paris and London.

Among them were British citizens George Good, a retired accountant and Tony Russell, a senior GLC official, who arrived in London on Friday.

The crew were offered the chance to go but chose to stay with the plane. The remaining hostages were transferred to the airport building. The hijackers then set a deadline for 1100GMT for their demands to be met or they would blow up the airliner and its passengers. But their plan was foiled by the dramatic Israeli raid.

Entebbe Airport
More than 100 hostages spent several anxious days at Entebbe airport

Rabin cautions on the cancer of terrorism
In Context
The mission, originally dubbed Operation Thunderbolt by the Israeli military, was renamed Operation Yonatan in honour of Netanyahu - elder brother of Binyamin Netanyahu, who was Israel's Prime Minister from 1996 to 1999.

The raid continues to be source of pride for the Israeli public, and many of the participants went on to high office in Israel's military and political establishment.

Among them was Dan Shomron, who was in overall command of the rescue operation. He became Chief of Staff of the Israel Defence Force.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated during his second term in office in 1995.

Idi Amin was humiliated by the surprise raid. He believed Kenya had colluded with Israel in planning the raid and hundreds of Kenyans living in Uganda were massacred soon afterwards.

But from this time, Amin's regime began to break down.

Two years later Idi Amin was forced into exile in Saudi Arabia.

He died in Jeddah in August 2003.

1954: Housewives celebrate end of rationing
Fourteen years of food rationing in Britain ended at midnight when restrictions on the sale and purchase of meat and bacon were lifted.

Members of the London Housewives' Association held a special ceremony in London's Trafalgar Square to mark Derationing Day.

The Minister of Fuel and Power, Geoffrey Lloyd, burned a large replica of a ration book at an open meeting in his constituency.

But the Minister of Food, Major Gwilym Lloyd-George, told a meeting at Bebington in Cheshire he would keep his as a souvenir and praised all those traders and organisations that had co-operated with the rationing system.

For the first time since the war began in 1939 London's Smithfield Market opened at midnight instead of 0600 and meat sellers were doing a roaring trade.

High prices

Although the final step in dismantling the whole wartime system of food distribution comes into effect, it's not all good news.

Butchers are predicting meat prices will soar for the next couple of weeks until the effect of supply and demand cools the situation down.

In February the Ministry of Food stopped controlling the sale of pork and announced it would end all food rationing this summer.

Food rationing began on 8 January 1940, four months after the outbreak of war.

Limits were imposed on the sale of bacon, butter and sugar.

Then on 11 March 1940 all meat was rationed. Clothes coupons were introduced and a black market soon developed while queueing outside shops and bartering for extra food became a way of life.

There were allowances made for pregnant women who used special green ration books to get extra food rations, and breastfeeding mothers had extra milk.

Restrictions were gradually lifted three years after war had ended, starting with flour on 25 July 1948, followed by clothes on 15 March 1949.

On 19 May 1950 rationing ended for canned and dried fruit, chocolate biscuits, treacle, syrup, jellies and mincemeat.

Petrol rationing, imposed in 1939, ended in May 1950 followed by soap in September 1950.

Three years later sales of sugar were off ration and last May butter rationing ended.

1995: Major wins Conservative leadership

The Prime Minister, John Major, has won his battle to remain leader of the Conservative Party.

Mr Major received backing from 218 of the party's MPs in the leadership ballot.

His sole challenger, John Redwood, got 89 votes.

There were eight abstentions with 12 spoilt papers. Two Conservative MPs failed to vote.

Mr Major's victory represented support from two-thirds of the parliamentary party - more than enough to win the contest outright in the first round.

"I believe that has put to rest any question and speculation about the leadership of the Conservative Party up to and beyond the next general election," Mr Major said.

The prime minister's resignation as leader of the Conservative Party last month was widely seen as a ploy to bring to a head deep divisions in the party over the highly contentious issue of Europe.

There were also persistent rumours of a leadership challenge from inside the cabinet.

But Michael Portillo and Kenneth Clarke - both floated as possible leadership contenders - backed the prime minister.

He won fair and square
John Redwood
The defeated challenger, John Redwood, who resigned as Welsh Secretary to contest the party leadership, moved swiftly to congratulate the prime minister.

"He won fair and square under the rules and I pay tribute to that victory," he said.

"I and my colleagues have fought a strong campaign - we have raised many important issues."

Mr Redwood attracted support from those in the party who wanted a tougher approach to growing European integration.

But his distant and unemotional manner earned him the nickname 'Mr Spock' or 'The Vulcan' after the character from the television series, Star Trek. John Major is now expected to re-assert his authority with an immediate cabinet reshuffle.

Photograph of John Major
John Major wins the leadership battle
In Context
Following his leadership contest victory John Major reshuffled his cabinet.

John Redwood, his former Welsh Secretary, was not included in the new line-up.

Mr Major resigned as Conservative Party leader two years later following Labour's victory in the 1997 general election.

He stood down as an MP at the 2001 general election after more than 20 years in parliament

John Redwood tried to land the leader's job again after Mr Major's election defeat.

He came a distant third to eventual winner William Hague and Kenneth Clarke.

New leader William Hague appointed John Redwood to his shadow cabinet but sacked him after his first reshuffle.

1985: Teenage genius gets a first
Child prodigy Ruth Lawrence has achieved a starred first in Mathematics at Oxford University.

The 13-year-old is the youngest British person ever to earn a first-class degree and the youngest known graduate of Oxford University.

As well as being the only student to attain that grade this year she is also one of two students to be awarded a prize and special commendation for the degree she has completed in two years instead of the usual three.

The teenager - who never went to school and was tutored by her father Harry Lawrence - said that the result was much as she had expected.

Mr Lawrence has been his daughter's constant companion and attended all of her lectures and tutorials at university.

They arrived at the Examination School together on a tandem bicycle to see her results posted on a board.

Impressive figures

Ruth, from Huddersfield, told Sue Cook on Breakfast Time that she intends to stay in Oxford for the next three years doing some sort of research.

She does not yet know which branch of mathematics she will specialise in or what she would ultimately like to achieve, but because of the broad range of options she has taken - including pure and applied maths - says she "can go off in virtually any direction".

By the age of nine Ruth had already entered the record books by achieving a grade A in her Pure Mathematics A-level.

Ruth intends to spend the £100 prize she won from Oxford University on new maths books for her 14th birthday next month.

1968: Alec Rose sails home
Yachtsman Alec Rose received a hero's welcome as he sailed into Portsmouth after his 354-day round-the-world trip.

The 59-year-old was escorted into Portsmouth harbour by 400 motor-boats, yachts, catamarans and canoes blowing sirens and whistles.

A crowd of more than 250,000 people had gathered to congratulate the Portsmouth greengrocer on his 28,500-mile solo trip around the globe.

Warmest congratulations on your magnificent voyage. Welcome home
Queen Elizabeth II
A gun was fired as Mr Rose crossed the finishing line in his 36ft pale blue ketch 'Lively Lady' at the Royal Albert Yacht Club, Southsea, at 1152BST today.

And as the weary sea-farer stepped ashore at 1233 BST the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Councillor F A Emmery-Wallis, presented him with a telegram from the Queen.

It read: "Warmest congratulations on your magnificent voyage. Welcome home - Elizabeth and Philip."

Prime Minister Harold Wilson also sent a message of congratulations.


Mr Rose and his wife, Dorothy, were then taken by Rolls Royce to the Guildhall where the couple spoke to waiting reporters.

Mr Rose revealed how at one point during his journey he had lain unconscious below deck for two hours after being overcome by fumes as he tried to repair an exhaust pipe.

He said: "I said my prayers quite often on this trip.

"I felt there wasn't much difference between me and eternity. At times my prayers were answered and the yacht and I got through."

When Mr Rose and his wife arrived home at their greengrocery shop in Osborne Road later this evening they were again met by jubilant crowds singing "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow."

Alec Rose, who set sail on 16 July last year, made stops in Australia and New Zealand during his trip.

He had saved for many years to undertake this epic voyage and was given no extra financial help.

1977: Manchester United sack manager
Manchester United manager Tommy Docherty has been sensationally sacked by the club's directors.

A statement from the football club's board found him in breach of his contract following a meeting today.

Docherty caused shock at the club two weeks ago when he announced he was leaving his wife after 27 years of marriage, for a woman 18 years his junior.

After United won the FA Cup against Liverpool in May the manager thought his job was safe.

"The board want me to stay and that's terrific," he said after admitting his affair.

The directors' announcement did not mention the 49-year old Scot's controversial affair with the wife of the club's physiotherapist, Laurie Brown.

It was a bombshell
Tommy Docherty
On hearing the news of his dismissal Docherty said he was "a bit shattered". "I certainly did not expect this. It was a bombshell. I thought I would have been judged on my playing record, like Wembley in two successive years," the father of four continued.

Club directors recalled him from holiday in the Lake District last week after coming under pressure from players' wives.

Speaking from the Cheshire home of girlfriend Mary Brown, 31, Docherty explained he had been asked to resign but refused because he did not think he had done anything wrong.

The relationship between Docherty and mother of two Mrs Brown has developed over the past three years.

Tommy Docherty - known as the Doc - joined United in December 1972 and still had ten months of his £20,000-a-year contract to run.

He had just renegotiated another four year contract, said to be worth £100,000, but this remains unsigned.

Docherty, in consultation with solicitors over compensation from United, would not comment on rumours of a move to Derby County, who tried to lure him with a lucrative deal a few weeks ago.

Photo of former Manchester United manager Tommy Docherty
Tommy Docherty led Manchester United to FA Cup glory

In Context
Within days of his dismissal Docherty appeared in public with a black eye he had received from jilted Laurie Brown.

He decided to sue club chairman, Louis Edwards, and Willie Morgan of Granada TV for defamation.

After approaches from clubs in the Middle East and Norway, Docherty eventually signed for Derby County in September 1977.

In the 1980s and 1990s he worked as a football pundit and after-dinner speaker.

Alec Rose
Alec Rose arrives home to a tumultuous welcome

In Context
A day after his home-coming Alec Rose received a knighthood.

He was also given the Freedom of Portsmouth in 1968 and made Freeman of the City of London in 1969.

Sir Francis Chichester was the first to prove that small boats could sail round the world when he completed the voyage in Gypsy Moth IV in 1967.

In June 1968 Sir Robin Knox-Johnston became the first person to circumnavigate the world non-stop & single handed.

On his return Sir Alec Rose wrote a book about his adventure entitled My Lively Lady.

He died on 11 January 1991 aged 82.

Photo of child genius Ruth Lawrence
Ruth got an A in Maths A-level aged nine

Child genius Ruth Lawrence: "I get such joy from maths"

In Context
In 1981 Ruth Lawrence became the youngest person ever to pass the Oxford entrance exam.

She gained her PhD in 1989 and went to work at Harvard in the US. Her father went with her.

From 1993, in her mid-twenties, Ruth was an assistant professor, then professor, at the University of Michigan studying knot theory.

In 1998 she married a mathematician at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Ariyeh Neimark - who is six years younger than her father. The couple have two children. Since 1999 she has been Associate Professor of Maths at the Einstein Institute of Mathematics, part of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where she is known as Ruth Lawrence-Neimark.

Hands tear up ration book
British citizens are tearing up their rations books in celebration

In Context
Rationing was introduced because of difficulties importing food to Britain by boat during the war, to ensure everyone had their fair share and to prevent people stockpiling foodstuffs.

Various essential and non-essential foods were rationed, such as clothes, furniture and fuel. Rationing of sweets and chocolate began on 26 July 1942.

During the war, health experts from the Ministry of Food ensured that the British people had a balanced diet.

Householders were told they were on the "Kitchen Front" and that they had a duty to use foods to their greatest advantage.

The Ministry devised characters such as Potato Pete and Dr Carrot to put their message across.

The process of de-rationing began in 1948, but made slow progress until 1953. Then Food Minister Gwilym Lloyd-George made it a priority for his department.

I'd rather be hated for what I am, than loved for what I am not".

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5th July


1989 Irangate - Oliver North Avoids Prison

Col Oliver NorthThe Iran-Contra affair: Colonel Oliver North, 45, was convicted of 3 out of 12 charges relating to the USA's support for the Contra rebels in Nicaragua in the mid 1980's (the three charges were 1) falsifying and destroying documents, 2) obstructing Congress and 3) illegally receiving the gift of a security fence around his home in Virginia.) He was a White House aide during this time.

North received a suspended 3 year sentence, 1200 hours community service and a $150,000 fine.

His service pension ($23,000 pa) was also suspended.

In his summing up, the judge, Judge Gerhard Gesell, described North as a

"low-ranking subordinate who was carrying out the instructions of a few cynical superiors."

North said:

"I recognize that I made many mistakes that resulted in my conviction of serious crimes... I grieve every day."

North's boss, National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, was sentenced to community service.


1981: Police attacked in Liverpool riots

Up to 30 police officers have been injured by flying missiles as rioters took to the streets of Toxteth, Liverpool.

Latest reports suggest that nearly 200 white and black youths have been attacking police, cars and shops with petrol bombs and bricks.

They have staged pitched battles with officers on Upper Parliament Street and Lodge Lane, charging at them with milk floats.

At one stage police in riot gear were forced to retreat as angry mobs hurled bits of scaffolding, bricks and petrol bombs.

At least four buildings were set alight, one collapsed and there was a pall of smoke hanging over Upper Parliament St.

Looting is widespread and there are reports of children as young as four running up and down Lodge Lane with shopping trolleys.

One witness, Christopher Davies said the trouble was well organised. "I've seen them wearing balaclava helmets, just like Belfast, handing out pertol bombs and telling people where to go," he told The Times newspaper.

"There are people standing on street corners with pick-axe handles looking like hell's preachers to make sure no one interferes with what's going on."

'Bloodbath' tip-off

Community leaders are keen to point out that the incident is not racially motivated, although there are reports that it was triggered by the arrest of a black motorcyclist two days ago.

He escaped into a crowd of about 40 black youths. Over the next two hours there was sporadic fighting in which five police officers were injured.

Police then received an anonymous tip-off that there would a "bloodbath" in Toxteth.

Then last night police officers investigating reports of a stolen car were attacked with bottles and stones. A crowd of 150 black and white men took control of Upper Parliament St, set up barricades using overturned parked cars.

Police took cover behind riot shields but were overwhelmed by the bombardment of missiles.

A BBC camera crew were chased by a masked gang brandishing pick-axe handles who took a £12,000 camera and destroyed it.

The Chief Constable of Merseyside, Kenneth Oxford, said the riots were not racial but a vicious attack on the police.

"I blame a small group of criminal hooligans who were hell-bent to provoke the police into a situation that would give them an opportunity to attack what is visibly a symbol of authority," he said.

The Liberal MP for Liverpool Edge Hill, David Alton, has said he is appalled by the scenes that he has witnessed so far. The disturbances in Liverpool follow race riots in Brixton, south London in April and two days ago in Southall, west London.

Police form a line next burning upturned car
Police were bombarded with bricks and petrol bombs

More than 100 Toxteth youths fight police in pitched battle
In Context
The rioting lasted until 0700 BST (0600 GMT) on 6 July and left a total of about 80 officers injured.

Police reinforcements from Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Cheshire were called as the Merseyside force was repeatedly overwhelmed.

This was the first time that British police used CS gas to control civil unrest in mainland Britain.

Compensation claims for the damage caused in Toxteth amounted to £10m out of a national total of £17m in a summer of rioting across the UK.

There were further disturbances later in July.

A public inquiry was held into the riots in April 1981 in Brixton, headed by Lord Scarman.

His report, published in November 1981, raised concerns about the ghetto situation in Toxteth and proposed many measures for improving trust and understanding between police and ethnic communities.

1991: International bank closed in fraud scandal
The Bank of England has closed down UK branches of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) over allegations of fraud.

The bank's 120,000 UK customers were stunned by the speed of the closure.

Even BCCI staff were not prepared for the largest ever intervention of this kind by the Bank of England, as deposits worth £250m were frozen.

Over the weekend liquidators from accountants Touche Ross will be entering all 25 branches to carry out detailed examinations of their finances.

The Bank of England also intends to stay open and set up a telephone hotline to help worried investors.

They are advising that the UK Deposit Protection Fund will guarantee investments up to £15,000 but investigators need to find out exactly how much is left in BCCI coffers.

London is at the centre of a global operation to investigate the activities of Luxembourg based BCCI, which is one of the biggest privately owned financial companies in the world.

We had no clear evidence under which we could act
Robin Leigh-Pemberton
Last year they were fined $15m for laundering drug money for former President of Panama General Noriega. At the time there were calls to shut down the bank, as six of its former executives were also jailed.

Speaking today, the Governor of the Bank of England Robin Leigh-Pemberton explained: "We had no clear evidence under which we could act, under the Banking Act, until earlier this year."

There are already rumours that the bank made a huge operating loss last year and probably would have collapsed within weeks anyway.

Opposition MPs are demanding to know why action was not taken sooner but BCCI's controlling shareholder - the Abu Dhabi government - has accused the British Government of acting too quickly.

Today's closure comes in the wake of a report commissioned by the Bank of England and published by BCCI's auditors, Price Waterhouse, in June.

1975: Ashe's Wimbledon win makes history
American tennis player Arthur Ashe has become the first black man to win the Wimbledon singles' championship.

New Yorker Althea Gibson was the first black woman to take the Wimbledon title in 1958.

Ashe beat defending champion Jimmy Connors three sets to one on Centre Court.

Speaking after the game Ashe said: "I always thought I would win because I was playing so well and was so confident."

Everything he did was good
Jimmy Connors
Although Ashe won the US Open in 1968 his 6-1, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 victory today - at the age of 31- surprised many at the All England Club.

The son of a policeman from Richmond, Virginia, Ashe was reluctant to discuss his tactics, as he expects to meet Connors again.

Connors, 22, admitted: "I couldn't find an opening. Whether I served wide balls, or kicks he was there. Everything he did was good: fine returns, short and long, and hard serves and volleys."

The older man won his first service game to love and quickly broke his opponent's serve in the first set.

The pressure on Connors began to show - causing derision in the crowd - as he angrily threw his towel under the umpire's chair and released a chain of expletives.

Ashe took the first set in just 19 minutes and secured a second 6-1 rout almost as quickly.

Tension mounted in the third set as Connors found his rhythm to recover a 6-5 lead - after trailing 3-1 - before winning the set.

His friend and Wimbledon semi-finalist Ile Nastase watched anxiously from the players' stand, along with his mother Gloria and manager Bill Riordan.

Ashe kept his cool and broke Connors' serve in the ninth game of what was to be the final set.

The match ended swiftly as Ashe reached 40-15 with his service game and punched home a winning volley after a weak two-handed return by Connors.

Arthur Ashe with the Wimbledon Trophy
Arthur Ashe beat defending champion Jimmy Connors in four sets

Arthur Ashe: "Also know what it's like to see some black hero do well"

In Context
Later that year Arthur Ashe was ranked number one tennis seed in the World.

He suffered a heart attack in 1979 and retired as a professional player a year later, though he continued as US Davis Cup captain.

He worked as a tennis commentator and journalist and later published his autobiography Days of Grace.

In 1992 Ashe announced he had contracted Aids from a tainted blood transfusion, probably from heart surgery he underwent in 1983.

Throughout his life he used his sporting profile to campaign on a variety of issues. He protested against apartheid in South Africa and US treatment of refugees arriving in the country from Haiti.

Ashe also started a number of charities, including a foundation for the defeat of Aids, and established the Institute for Urban Health just months before his death in February 1993.

The Arthur Ashe Stadium and Commemorative Garden was opened in Flushing Meadow in the US in 1997.

Stories From 5 Jul


Photo of the front of BCCI headquarters
BCCI has 120,000 UK based customers

1954: BBC launches daily TV news
The BBC has broadcast its first daily television news programme.

The 20-minute bulletin was read by Richard Baker and was introduced as an "Illustrated summary of the news... Followed by the latest film of events and happenings at home and abroad."

The present Television Newsreel programme, which is to be discontinued, is prepared in advance and contains news items which are often days old.

The new service is intended to be more up-to-date and will also eventually include studio interviews.

This is a start on something we regard as extremely significant for the future
BBC Director General Sir Ian Jacob
Tonight's edition began with news of truce talks being held near Hanoi and an item on French troop movements in Tunisia.

Richard Baker could be heard reading the news while a series of headlines, still photographs and maps were shown on the screen.

BBC Director General Sir Ian Jacob acknowledged last week there had been significant difficulties producing the new television bulletins.

"News is not at all an easy thing to do on television. A good many of the main news items are not easily made visual - therefore we have the problem of giving news with the same standards that the corporation has built up in sound."

He added that the format of the programme was likely to change, but said the BBC was committed to television news. "This is a start on something we regard as extremely significant for the future," he said.

Richard Baker reading the news
Richard Baker was the newsreader whose voice was heard behind the first bulletin
In Context
The first television news bulletin was not met with universal approval.

The programme was variously described as "absolute ghastly", "crazy" and "as visually impressive as the fat stock prices".

BBC Radio was also very sceptical of the new service and insisted it retain editorial control over the headlines and story content.

But between 1954 and 1955 the amount of television time devoted to news was doubled and in September 1955 Independent Television News launched its first service.

BBC television news has expanded considerably since its early days and is now available round-the-clock on BBC News 24. In July 2004, the corporation celebrated 50 years since the first daily 20-minute bulletin.

2000: Record-breaking penguin rescue
Conservationists in South Africa are carrying out the biggest ever airlift of wild birds.

Over 18,000 Jackass penguins have now been moved to safety as an oil slick threatens their breeding ground on Dassen Island, 50 miles north of Cape Town.

The rescue operation began last week when the Panamanian tanker, Treasure, sank off the Cape of Good Hope with around 14,000 tonnes of oil on board.

Jackass penguins - so called because they sound like braying donkeys - are the only nesting penguins in Africa and they are classed as a "threatened species".

This spill is particularly dangerous because it is the middle of the mating season and a third of the entire Jackass breed live in the affected area.

Major operation

Dozens of volunteers are helping the rescue operation co-ordinated by the South African National Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (Sanccob).

Sanccob estimates that the cost of evacuating the whole population of 55,000 penguins will be 40m Rand (£3.4m). The holding centres are already getting through 10 tonnes of fish per day.

The birds - also known as African penguins - are being looked after in two cleaning centres near Cape Town.

Each bird takes half an hour to clean by hand with a toothbrush in strong detergent before they have a test swim in specially made tanks.

Conservationists plan to release the penguins 100 miles up the coast near Port Elizabeth, so that the oil will have dispersed by the time they reach their natural habitat. Oil is harmful because it interferes with feathers' natural waterproofing and leaves the penguins exposed to cold and unable to swim for food for themselves and their young.

Photo of a conservationist tending to damaged penguins
Each bird takes half an hour to clean
In Context
By August 23,000 oiled birds had been caught and cleaned and another 17,000 removed from the affected area. The last bird was returned to the wild in October.

Thousands of South African volunteers and about 100 wildlife experts from across the world worked 16 hour days to complete targets of 500 birds per day.

It is estimated that their efforts cost $14m (£9.73m), but without it Jackass penguins would have died out by 2010.

In 1994 there was a similar incident in the same area, when 10,000 penguins were rescued after the Apollo tanker sank spilling 500 tonnes of oil.

Only half of those rescued penguins survived compared with a survival rate of 95% on this occasion.

I'd rather be hated for what I am, than loved for what I am not".

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6th July


1957 Paul McCartney Meets John Lennon For The First Time

It happened at a church picnic in Woolton, Liverpool. 16 year-old John Lennon had started a band called the Quarrymen, they were performing at the picnic. McCartney, 15, played a few songs for him and, a few days later, Lennon asked him to join the band.

The band later changed their name to 'Johnny and the Moondogs', before settling on 'The Silver Beatles', shortened to 'The Beatles'.

It was on this day...
1971 Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong Dies

Armstrong died in New York, at the age of 69.

He was one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Armstrong introduced the style 'swing' to the world, was a jazz trumpeter and vocalist of international standing.

Armstrong picked up many nicknames during his career, including 'Satchmo', short for "Satchelmouth"; "Dippermouth"; and "Pops."


1988: Piper Alpha oil rig ablaze
A fire on a North Sea oil rig is feared to have claimed the lives of most of those on board.

The fire is believed to have started after explosions at about 2230 BST (2130 GMT) on the Piper Alpha drilling platform, 120 miles (193km) off the north-east coast of Scotland.

Helicopters and boats were immediately sent out to rescue the oil workers in an operation co-ordinated by the Aberdeen coastguard.

Pilots reported seeing an "inferno" up to 350ft (107m) high and a platform wrenched apart.

It is thought approximately 225 men were working on the rig owned by Occidental Oil.

Safety inspection

Survivors are being airlifted to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary - some are said to be seriously injured.

Most of those who have been rescued so far said they survived by sliding down pipes or jumping hundreds of feet into the sea which was covered in burning oil.

The Piper Alpha platform is the largest and oldest platform in the North Sea oilfield.

It was last inspected two weeks ago but last week there was a small fire on the rig.

Since drilling began in the North Sea in the 1970s there have been 300 deaths on Britain's 123 oil installations, often in accidents caused by bad weather.


1978: Eleven die in sleeper train inferno

Eleven people have been killed and seventeen injured in a blaze on the Penzance-to-Paddington sleeper train.

Early reports suggest that the fire was started by a discarded cigarette or an electrical fault near one of the top bunks in a second-class compartment.

An attendant pulled the emergency cord on the 2130 from Penzance and the train stopped, half a mile from its next scheduled halt at Taunton, Somerset at 0248 BST (0148 GMT).

It is the worst accident on Britain's railways since November 1967, when 49 people died in a derailment at Hither Green, south London.

Fire-fighters arrived within four minutes, but their efforts were hampered by internal and external locked doors.

Speaking in a BBC radio interview, British Rail's chief operating manager, William Bradshaw, has confirmed that it is company policy to lock doors connecting carriages, but not external doors while the train is in motion.

He said many passengers choose to lock the doors on their compartments for security whilst they are asleep.

Dealing with casualties

Local residents from Fairwater Close in Taunton went to help survivors from the train and provided tea, blankets and comfort in their homes.

The injured were transferred to hospitals in Taunton.

All of the 31 dead or injured were in the front two carriages of the 12 coach train.

Most of the bodies were found in the sleeping compartments and all but one was from the UK.

Forensic scientists state that the likely cause of death was asphyxiation rather than burns.

Accident investigators will examine safety procedures and materials used by British Rail.

They currently operate 350 sleeper carriages - none of which is less than 18 years old. MPs have already called for an immediate end to the practice of locking external doors.

Photograph of the fire-damaged Penzance to Paddington sleeper
All those killed were in the front two carriages of the sleeper
In Context
Five days later the inquest at the coroners' court in Taunton found that nine of the deaths were caused by asphyxiation, one by a heart attack and one by heart failure and smoke inhalation.

In August a Belgian passenger died in hospital from pneumonia without regaining consciousness after the fire.

In February 1980 the final report into the blaze was published by Railway Inspector Major Tony King.

It stated the cause of the accident as burning linen stacked too close to a heater. It also suggested better training of carriage attendants and better safety features.

It found that although some of the train doors were locked this was not the main cause of death.

1997: Mars buggy starts exploring Red Planet
Nasa scientists have freed a robot from the space probe Mars Pathfinder, allowing it to begin its exploration of the Red Planet at last.

The rover, known as Sojourner, has been stuck on Pathfinder since its successful landing on Mars two days ago.

It is the first time a man-made craft has travelled over the surface of another planet.

Pathfinder quickly sent back the evidence: an image of the Martian surface showing the tracks made by Sojourner's six studded titanium wheels.


The problem began when a partially-deflated airbag blocked Sojourner's way out of Pathfinder. Then the computers on board the probe and the rover failed to talk to each other.

Finally, at 0646 BST (0546 GMT) there was a breakthrough.

Flight director Chris Salvo announced to the waiting team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California: "Six wheels on the ground."

There was an ecstatic cheer from the 70-strong team. But they will now have to wait another day for the first high-resolution pictures because an hour after the vehicle moved off the ramp, the sun went down and the rover was left parked until the next Martian morning.

Uneven terrain

The Sojourner is a tiny robot, about the size of a bread-bin and weighing just 22 lbs (10 kg). It travels on six wheels, each of which can move independently to cope with the uneven Martian terrain.

Most of the power is provided by solar cells on the roof, and there is also a battery power pack for backup.

It is controlled remotely from California, millions of miles away.

The Pathfinder probe had a near-perfect landing on 4 July - America's Independence Day - in the Ares Vallis, an ancient channel on Mars that may once have held water.

The first reading sent back was of the temperature - a freezing minus 93 degrees C.

The probe has also sent back some astounding pictures of the barren, rock-strewn surface.

It showed massive dust storms in the pink Martian sky, one raging just 600 miles (950 km) south of the landing site.

The mission is being followed avidly by millions on the internet through the official Mars Pathfinder website. There is particular interest in what it may find following the controversial announcement by Nasa last August that it had found evidence of life in a Martian meteorite.

Sojourner rover
The tiny Sojourner rover was snagged on an airbag (picture: Nasa)
In Context
Although Sojourner was designed to operate for just one week, in fact it kept exploring Mars for nearly three months.

It covered more than 50,000 square yards (42,000 square metres) of territory around Pathfinder's landing site and sent back 550 images of the Martian surface. Pathfinder itself also took thousands of pictures.

They revealed new information about geological features on Mars and provided compelling evidence that the planet once contained liquid water and was warm and wet, like the Earth.

The Mars Global Surveyor, which arrived in September 1997, was also a success, providing tantalising hints of possible water beneath the surface.

However, the next missions, Mars Climate Orbiter and the Mars Polar Lander in 1999, were costly failures, putting the future of Mars exploration in doubt.

Then in 2001, the Mars Odyssey revived Nasa's fortunes with a remarkable geological map of the planet which transformed our knowledge of what Mars is made of.

The European Space Agency put the Mars Express into orbit around Mars in December 2003.

In 2004, Nasa's Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, discovered compelling evidence for the prolonged presence of water on the planet's surface.

1992: Riot police confront French truckers
The French Government has mobilised the army and police to remove lorries blocking the nation's major roads.

Over the past eight days, lorry drivers have severely disrupted France's infrastructure, delaying British hauliers and holiday-makers in a protest about new driving licence laws.

Speaking at conciliation talks in Paris, Budget Minister Michel Charasse said: "No professional body, however legitimate their demands has the right to take France hostage, to prevent citizens from moving freely and paralyse the economy."

The most dramatic confrontation was on the A1 motorway south of Lille towards Paris, where telephone wires and truckers' CB radios were intercepted by police.

No professional body, however legitimate their demands, has the right to take France hostage
Budget Minister Michel Charasse
Five hundred riot squad officers, supported by helicopters, armoured cars and a tank, took four hours to disperse the 150 vehicles jamming the road.

Within hours smaller groups of lorries were massing together again and drivers enforced a two-mile-per-hour go-slow before traffic flow returned to normal.

Two other major protests were successfully broken up near Lyons and south of Arles along with several other smaller barricades.

But 1,000 lorries continue to surround Toulouse and about 150 other blockades remain on main roads and motorways.

By the end of the day an additional 50 roadblocks had appeared.

There is still a lot of popular support for the lorry drivers, who say that the new licence penalty point system - similar to that in the UK - will affect their livelihoods.

This is because penalties will accumulate more quickly through their work.

As supplies of food and petrol to cities are running low, the main French employers' body, CNPF, has warned of the economic costs of the crisis.

The French Government has re-opened negotiations with drivers' unions and employers' representatives. Britons hoping to travel to France are advised to delay their visits or stick to the 'D' roads - the equivalent of English 'B' roads.

Photograph of French riot police and the blockaded A1 motorway
It took police four hours to disperse lorries on the A1 motorway near Lille
In Context
Riot police finally cleared the 200 remaining blockades on 8 July. Several violent incidents were reported and some MPs denounced police brutality.

Opposition MPs did not make much political capital out of this incident, but it added to the declining popularity of socialist Prime Minister Pierre Beregovoy who resigned in the 1993 elections.

There was another major lorry drivers' strike in 1997 which led to Oasis and Phil Collins cancelling concerts in France. Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher said: "It's a pity but there you go. Up the workers and all that."

1952: London's trams trundle into history
After nearly a century of service the tram has made its final appearance in London.

The very last tram to rumble along the capital's streets arrived at south-east London's New Cross depot in the early hours of this morning.

It was driven by John Cliff, deputy chairman of London Transport Executive, who began his career as a tram driver.

Trams have carried banners all week proclaiming "Last Tram Week" and special tickets carrying the same message have been produced.

Conductors punched souvenir tickets and enthusiasts drove or cycled alongside the tram - car number 1951 - for the duration of the journey.

The tram's journey time was extended by almost three hours by crowds of cheering Londoners who surrounded it along the route from Woolwich to New Cross.

Noisy and dangerous

At New Cross depot the tram was greeted by LTE chairman Lord Latham.

"In the name of Londoners I say goodbye, old tram," Lord Latham declared as the vehicle entered the tram shed.

The first electric trams appeared on London's streets in 1901 following on from horse-drawn trams which were introduced in 1861.

However, by the 1930s trams were seen as noisy and dangerous to other road users.

In 1931 a commission of inquiry recommended trams be replaced by trolleybuses - electrified vehicles which did not need tracks - but many trams were temporarily reprieved by the outbreak of the Second World War.

The final phasing out of trams follows the closure of the Kingsway tram tunnel three months ago.

The tunnel which begins in Kingsway and extends under The Strand was opened in 1906 and houses two tram stations - Aldwych and Holborn.


Scene from last tram's jouney
Thousands saw off London's last tram

Images from the last London tram journey (no sound)

In Context
By 1952 trams had already been phased out in several English cities but some of London's old trams were sent to Leeds where they remained in service until 1959.

Ten years after the demise of London's trams, trolleybuses followed them into oblivion.

In the 1970s much of the Kingsway tram tunnel was converted for road use.

During the conversion Aldwych station was destroyed but Holborn tram station remains intact in an unused portion of the tunnel.

Over the years trams have regained popularity in some quarters as an environmentally-friendly means of mass transport.

Manchester has had a tram system since the mid-1990s and in 2000 a combined tram/light railway system started running in Croydon in south east London.

'I was there'
I was 10 when the last trams ran in London in 1952. I lived in NW London, an area without trams and my father took me out for joy rides on the trams which were largely in south London.

We would travel to Holborn to catch a Route 33 or 35 tram and travel through the Kingsway subway emerging at the Embankment and ride to the end of the line in south London.

I loved the trams, not only because of their sound and motion, but also I was aware that they were a "living" remnant of a bygone age - a few of the trams were some 40 years old.

I can still feel my sadness when we travelled by coach to a south coast resort on 6 July 1952 through south London only a few hours after the last trams had run. In areas where I was accustomed to seeing trams, the streets were empty with only the rails to show where they had once been.
David Grant, UK

Piper Alpha oilrig ablaze
Some workers jumped from the blazing oil rig

Hopes of finding men alive begin to fade

In Context
A total of 167 people died in the Piper Alpha fire making it the world's worst offshore oil disaster.

Most of the victims suffocated in toxic fumes which developed after a gas leak set off the blasts and sparked the fire.

In November 1990 Lord Cullen's report into the disaster severely criticised safety procedures on the rig owned by Occidental Oil.

Lord Cullen did not blame any individuals but after a civil action over insurance payments in 1997 two workers who died in the disaster were found to have been negligent.

However, that finding has been contested both by relatives of the men concerned and television documentary investigations.

I'd rather be hated for what I am, than loved for what I am not".

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1978: German terror suspect arrested in UK

One of the most wanted members of the West German Baader-Meinhof gang has been detained in London.

Astrid Proll, 31, is suspected of having been a member of the left-wing extremist group and its successor, the Red Army Faction.

Miss Proll was working in a West Hampstead garage under a false name when officers from Special Branch arrested her.

She is now being questioned by members of the anti-terrorist squad at Paddington Green police station in West London, where she is expected to be held for the next few days.

Scotland Yard said Miss Proll - who was working as a mechanics instructor - was not armed when she was arrested and emphasized there was no question of her being involved in criminal activity in the UK.

But West German officials said they wanted her in connection with several murders and would apply for her extradition.

Witnesses at Camden Enterprises Ltd said Miss Proll did not resist arrest.

I have no contact with the Red Army Faction
Astrid Proll
The workshop manager, Vincent Wilcocks, told the BBC when the first uniformed police arrived he thought they had come to question him about a motoring offence.

"The next moment about 10 plain clothes officers from Scotland Yard came in and took her up to the recreation room, pushed her up against the lockers and searched her.

"I asked the police if they had a warrant but they said in this case they did not need one," he said.

Miss Proll later issued a statement though her solicitor denying she had links with any extremist groups.

"I have lived in England for the past four years - I have no contact with the Red Army Faction and I have tried to settle down as best I could in the circumstances," she said.


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7 December 1941: Japanese planes bomb Pearl Harbor


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1984: Britain signs over Hong Kong to China
don’t think Thatcher wanted a war with China over this so its funny how she went to war over the Falklands tho


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1971: Sixty-six die in Scottish football disaster

Sixty-six football supporters have been killed following a match between Old Firm rivals Celtic and Rangers at the Ibrox Park stadium in Glasgow.

The disaster occurred when crush barriers collapsed as thousands of fans made their way out of the stadium.

Initial reports suggest the tragedy, which happened on stairway 13 of the stadium, was caused when hundreds of Rangers fans began leaving the match early believing Celtic had won.

Jimmy Johnstone had scored for Celtic with just a minute to go, but Colin Stein scored an equalising goal for Rangers during injury time causing a huge roar to erupt inside the stadium.

According to eye-witnesses, fans attempting to get back up the stairs after hearing the roar, collided head-on with those coming down the stairs.

Everyone was struggling to get out, suffocating - it was essentially a fight for survival 
Rescuers, who were on the scene within minutes, tried to force their way through the crowds, but their efforts were mostly in vain. One man who managed to struggle out of the crush, described the scene.

"I was making my way out of the stadium down the stairs when suddenly everything seemed to stop," he said.

"The lads at the back just kept coming forward down the stairs.

"I went down with the rest of the crowd, being pushed and pulled onto the ground.

"Everyone was struggling to get out, suffocating - it was essentially a fight for survival. After 10 or 15 minutes I was dragged out by a policeman and brought to hospital by ambulance."

Eighteen-year-old Margaret Ferguson was the only female fan to be killed in the tragedy.

Alick Buchanan-Smith, Scottish minister for Home Affairs, has called for an immediate inquiry into the disaster.

Supporters' stand at Ibrox stadium
The tragedy happened as fans left the stadium

Radio commentary on the aftermath at Ibrox

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3rd January 2000: Art theft was 'professional' job

Police have said the Cezanne painting taken from the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford on New Year's Eve was probably stolen to order.

The painting - Auvers-sur-Oise - was bought by the Ashmolean in 1980 and is said to be worth £3m.

It was the museum's only work by French impressionist Paul Cezanne and was integral to their collection of art from that period, which included works by Monet, Van Gogh and Picasso.

Superintendent John Carr of Oxford Police said: "Whoever has taken this painting has given some thought to how to steal it. The person has some reason for it and some outlet for it."

Thieves entered the gallery through the glass roof, via scaffolding around a new library extension being added to the building.

It really is a great blow to us
Christopher Brown, Museum director
The Ashmolean, which is the oldest public museum in the world, maintains that its security systems did not fail. But the thieves used smoke canisters to set off fire alarms and cause enough confusion to escape with the prized landscape.

Museum director Christopher Brown said: "Cezanne played an absolutely key role in the representation of a key period in 19th century painting and it really is a great blow to us and the way in which we can display that moment in Western painting."

Police are circulating details of the painting internationally in the hope that its whereabouts can be traced. They are also appealing for any New Year revellers that witnessed anything suspicious on the night of the crime to come forward.

The work is an oil on canvas depicting a group of small, white cottages in a lush, tree-filled valley. It was framed and measured 18 by 22 inches.

Ashmolean Museum
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Hunt is on for stolen Cezanne painting

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28 January

William Burke

On January 28 1829, William Burke, murderer and body snatcher of "Burke and Hare" fame, was executed.

Hare escaped the gallows by turning King's evidence against his former partner.

The TRUTH is out there...........

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Ariel Sharon
An official report accuses Ariel Sharon of making a "grave mistake"

Commission blames Sharon for Lebanon massacres


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The TRUTH is out there...........

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Mountjoy Prison, DublinTwo self-proclaimed British Government spies have escaped from a top-security prison in Ireland where they were serving sentences for armed robbery.
1974: 'Anti-IRA spies' break out of jail


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Birmingham Six group round microphone outside Old Bailey
Birmingham Six celebrate their freedom outside the Old Bailey

The story of the Birmingham Six


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The TRUTH is out there...........
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