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[Daily article] December 21: James Whiteside McCay

Sir James McCay (1864–1930) was an Australian general and politician.
As a member of the Victorian Parliament (1895–99), he championed
federation and women's suffrage. He became a member of the first
Australian Federal Parliament in 1901 and was Minister for Defence
(1904–05), where his long-lasting reforms included creating the
Military Board. In World War I, McCay commanded the 2nd Infantry Brigade
of the Australian Army in the landing at Anzac Cove, during the
Gallipoli Campaign. He was later wounded in the Second Battle of Krithia
and sent home, but returned to command the 5th Division, which he led in
the Battle of Fromelles in 1916, dubbed "the worst 24 hours in
Australia's entire history". His failures in difficult military
operations made him a controversial figure who earned the disfavour of
his superiors, and his efforts to succeed in the face of insurmountable
obstacles earned him the odium of troops under his command, who blamed
him for high casualties. After the war, McCay resumed his old job as
Deputy Chairman of the State Bank of Victoria; his other public roles
included commanding the Special Constabulary Force during the 1923
Victorian Police strike.

Read more: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Whiteside_McCay>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

1826:

American settlers in Mexican Texas made the first attempt to
secede from Mexico, establishing the short-lived Republic of Fredonia.
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fredonian_Rebellion>

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[Daily article] December 20: Albatrellus subrubescens

Albatrellus subrubescens is a species of polypore fungus in the family
Albatrellaceae. The fruit bodies (mushrooms) of the fungus have whitish
to pale buff-colored caps that can reach up to 14.5 cm (5.7 in) in
diameter, and stems up to 7 cm (2.8 in) long and 2 cm (0.8 in)
thick. On the underside of the caps are tiny light yellow to pale
greenish-yellow pores, the site of spore production. When the fruit
bodies are fresh, the cap and pores stain yellow where exposed, handled,
or bruised. The species is found in Asia, Europe, and North America,
where it grows on the ground in deciduous or mixed woods, usually in
association with pine trees. It is closely related, and physically
similar, to the more common Albatrellus ovinus, from which it may be
distinguished macroscopically by differences in the color when bruised,
and microscopically by the amyloid (staining bluish-black to black with
Melzer's reagent) walls of the spores. The fruit bodies of
A. subrubescens contain scutigeral, a bioactive chemical that has
antibiotic activity. A. subrubescens mushrooms are mildly poisonous,
and consuming them will result in a short-term gastrointestinal illness.

Read more: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albatrellus_subrubescens>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

1860:

South Carolina became the first of eleven slave states to
secede from the United States, leading to the eventual creation of the
Confederate States of America and later the American Civil War.
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confederate_States_of_America>

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[Daily article] December 19: December 1964 South Vietnamese coup

In a coup on December 19, 1964, South Vietnam's ruling military junta
led by General Nguyễn Khánh (pictured) dissolved the High National
Council (HNC) and arrested some of its members. Khánh needed to satisfy
the wishes of some younger generals to stay in power, after they had
saved him from an earlier coup attempt. They wanted to sideline older
officers who had previously been in high leadership positions, hiding
their motives with a plan to force all general officers with more than
25 years of service to retire. The HNC, an unelected advisory body
created to give a veneer of civilian rule, recommended against this, and
was then dissolved. This dismayed the United States, South Vietnam's
main sponsor. The US ambassador, Maxwell D. Taylor, harshly berated the
generals and threatened aid cuts. Khánh embarked on a media offensive,
criticizing US policy and what he saw as infringement of Vietnamese
sovereignty. He and the other generals began preparations to expel
Taylor before changing their minds. Khánh's tactics rallied support for
his fragile leadership, at least temporarily. The Americans did not
carry through on Taylor's threats to cut off aid, even though the HNC
was never restored.

Read more: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/December_1964_South_Vietnamese_coup>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

1154:

Henry II was crowned King of England in London's Westminster
Abbey.
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_II_of_England>

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[Daily article] December 18: Murder of Leigh Leigh

Leigh Leigh was a 14-year-old girl from Fern Bay on the east coast of
Australia, who was murdered on 3 November 1989. While attending a
teenage birthday party at Stockton Beach (location of party pictured in
2014), Leigh was kicked and spat on by a group of boys after she
publicly asserted she had been raped. Leigh left the party shortly
afterwards. Her naked body was found in nearby sand dunes the following
morning, with severe genital damage and a crushed skull. Matthew Webster
(18 years old) pleaded guilty to her murder and served 14½ years in
prison. A 19-year-old male pleaded guilty to assault; a third male (aged
15) pleaded guilty to having sex with a minor. The murder investigation
proved controversial as several people who admitted to various crimes,
including assaulting Leigh, were never charged, and Webster's confession
did not match the forensic evidence. The extended media coverage of the
murder, which has been cited as an example of victim blaming, tended to
focus on the lack of parental supervision at the party, drug and alcohol
use, and Leigh's sexuality. The murder inspired a theatrical play
entitled Blackrock, as well as a feature film of the same name.

Read more: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Leigh_Leigh>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

1867:

In Angola, New York, US, the last coach of a Lake Shore Railway
train derailed, plunged 40 ft (12 m) down a gully, and caught fire,
resulting in 49 deaths.
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angola_Horror>

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[Daily article] December 17: 509th Composite Group

The 509th Composite Group was a United States Army Air Forces unit
created during World War II and tasked with the operational deployment
of nuclear weapons. Commanded by Paul W. Tibbets, it conducted the
atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. The group,
which was activated on 17 December 1944, was designated as a "composite"
rather than a "bombardment" formation because it contained flying
squadrons equipped with Boeing B-29 Superfortress bombers and C-47
Skytrain and C-54 Skymaster transport aircraft. It operated Silverplate
B-29s, which were specially configured to enable them to carry nuclear
weapons. In addition to the two nuclear bombing raids, it carried out
15 practice missions against Japanese-held islands and 12 combat
missions against targets in Japan, dropping high-explosive pumpkin
bombs. In the postwar era, the 509th Composite Group was one of the
original ten bombardment groups assigned to Strategic Air Command on 21
March 1946 and the only one equipped with Silverplate B-29 Superfortress
aircraft capable of delivering atomic bombs. It was standardized as a
bombardment group and redesignated the 509th Bombardment Group, Very
Heavy, on 10 July 1946.

Read more: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/509th_Composite_Group>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

546:

After a nearly year-long siege, Ostrogoths led by Totila sacked
Rome.
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sack_of_Rome_(546)>

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[Daily article] December 16: Central Coast Mariners FC

Central Coast Mariners FC is an Australian professional soccer club
based on the Central Coast of New South Wales. The Mariners, founded in
2004 as one of the original eight A-League teams, were the first
professional sports club from the Gosford region to compete in a
national competition. Despite being considered one of the smallest-
market clubs in the league, the Central Coast Mariners have won the
A-League Premiership twice and claimed one A-League Championship from
four Grand Final appearances. They have also appeared in the AFC
Champions League four times. The club plays matches at Central Coast
Stadium (pictured), a 20,059 seat stadium in Gosford. The English
Championship's Sheffield United has invested in the club, and the
Mariners have affiliation agreements with several international clubs.
Their main supporters' group is known as the Yellow Army, after the
colour of the club's home kit. The club and the Newcastle Jets share a
rivalry known as the F3 Derby, after the previous name of the motorway
that connects the cities of the teams. Matt Simon and Adam Kwasnik are
the Mariners' all-time leading goalscorers, with 42 goals each in all
competitions.

Read more: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Coast_Mariners_FC>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

1598:

Admiral Yi Sun-sin's Korean navy defeated the Japanese fleet at
the Battle of Noryang, the final naval battle of the Imjin War.
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Noryang>

(Continue reading)

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[Daily article] December 15: Fuck: Word Taboo and Protecting Our First Amendment Liberties

Fuck: Word Taboo and Protecting Our First Amendment Liberties is a 2009
nonfiction book by law professor Christopher M. Fairman about freedom of
speech, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, censorship, and
use of the word fuck in society. Citing studies in social science,
psychoanalysis, and linguistics, Fairman says that most of its current
usages have connotations distinct from its meaning of sexual
intercourse. The book discusses the efforts of American conservatives to
censor the word from common parlance, and says that legal precedent
regarding its use is unclear because of contradictory court decisions.
The book, which was a follow-up by Fairman to an article in 2007 on the
same topic, received mostly favorable reception from news sources and
library trade publications. Library Journal described the book as a
sincere analysis of the word and efforts to censor it, while Choice:
Current Reviews for Academic Libraries called it stimulating. After the
book's release, Fairman was consulted by media sources including CNN and
The New York Times, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union, on
issues surrounding word taboo in society.

Read more: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuck:_Word_Taboo_and_Protecting_Our_First_Amendment_Liberties>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

687:

Sergius was elected pope, ending the last disputed sede vacante
of the Byzantine Papacy.
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Sergius_I>

1161:
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[Daily article] December 14: Quainton Road railway station

Quainton Road railway station was opened in 1868 near Quainton,
Buckinghamshire, 44 miles (71 km) from London. It was built by the
Aylesbury and Buckingham Railway after pressure from the 3rd Duke of
Buckingham to route the railway near his home. It connected with the
Brill Tramway, which carried goods from the duke's estates and
passengers from Brill, and was heavily used despite its geographical
isolation. Both lines were absorbed in 1891 by the Metropolitan Railway
(MR), which operated from Aylesbury to London. When the Great Central
Railway from the north of England opened in 1899, Quainton Road became a
significant junction. The MR became part of the London Passenger
Transport Board's London Underground in 1933. The Brill Tramway was
closed in 1935, and Underground trains were withdrawn north of Aylesbury
after 1936. Quainton Road closed to passengers in 1963 and to goods in
1966. In 1969 the Quainton Road Society was formed; it restored and
reopened the station as the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. Freight
trains still use the line, and passenger trains call for special events.

Read more: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quainton_Road_railway_station>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

557:

A large earthquake severely damaged the city of Constantinople.
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/557_Constantinople_earthquake>

1836:

The Toledo War, the mostly bloodless boundary dispute between
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December 13: Bombing of Singapore (1944–45)

During World War II, Japanese-occupied Singapore was bombed by Allied
air forces. Most of the 11 raids by U.S. Army Air Forces long-range
bomber units between November 1944 and March 1945 targeted the naval
base and dockyard facilities on the island, though several minelaying
missions were conducted in nearby waters. After the American bombers
were redeployed, the British Royal Air Force assumed responsibility for
minelaying operations near Singapore and these continued until 24 May
1945. While significant damage was inflicted on Singapore's important
naval base and commercial port (damage at docks pictured), some raids on
these targets were not successful and other attacks on oil storage
facilities on nearby islands were ineffective. The minelaying campaign
disrupted Japanese shipping in the area, causing some loss and damage,
but was not decisive. The Allied air attacks raised the morale of
Singapore's civilian population, who believed that the raids marked the
impending liberation of the city. Civilian casualties were limited,
though one attack rendered hundreds homeless and civilian workers were
killed during attacks on military facilities.

Read more: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Singapore_(1944%E2%80%9345)>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

1643:

First English Civil War: Parliamentary forces serving under Sir
William Waller led a successful surprise attack on a winter garrison of
Royalist infantry and cavalry.
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Alton>

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[Daily article] December 12: Geoffrey (archbishop of York)

Geoffrey (c. 1152 – 1212) was an illegitimate son of King Henry II
of England who became Bishop of Lincoln and Archbishop of York. Geoffrey
held some minor clerical offices before becoming bishop in 1173, and was
ordained a priest in 1189. In 1173–74 he led a campaign in northern
England to help put down a rebellion by his legitimate half-brothers,
capturing William the Lion, the King of the Scots. After Pope Lucius III
ordered him to resign Lincoln or be consecrated, Geoffrey resigned and
became Chancellor. After succeeding to the throne, Richard I of England,
his half-brother, nominated him Archbishop of York, probably to
eliminate a potential rival. He was consecrated in France in 1191, and
was briefly imprisoned in Dover Castle on his return during a dispute
with William Longchamp, Richard's regent in England. Geoffrey spent much
of his time as archbishop in various disputes with Richard and John,
Richard's successor and another half-brother. Geoffrey also quarrelled
with his suffragan bishops, his cathedral chapter, and other clergy in
his diocese. In 1207, he was forced into exile in France by John, and
died there five years later.

Read more: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoffrey_(archbishop_of_York)>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

627:

A Byzantine army under Emperor Heraclius defeated Emperor
Khosrau II's Persian forces, commanded by General Rhahzadh, near
present-day Mosul, Iraq.
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Nineveh_(627)>

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[Daily article] December 11: Xerochrysum bracteatum

Xerochrysum bracteatum, commonly known as the golden everlasting, is a
flowering plant in the daisy family Asteraceae, native to Australia. It
grows as a woody or herbaceous perennial or annual shrub up to a metre
(3 ft) tall with green or grey leafy foliage. Golden yellow or white
flower heads are produced from spring to autumn; their distinctive
feature is the papery bracts that resemble petals. The species is
widespread, growing in a variety of habitats across the country, from
rainforest margins to deserts and subalpine areas. The golden
everlasting serves as food for various larvae of lepidopterans
(butterflies and moths), and adult butterflies, hoverflies, native bees,
small beetles and grasshoppers visit the flower heads. The golden
everlasting has proven very adaptable to cultivation. It was propagated
and developed in Germany in the 1850s, and annual cultivars in a host of
colour forms from white to bronze to purple flowers became available.
Many of these are still sold in mixed seed packs. In Australia, many
cultivars are perennial shrubs, which have become popular garden plants.
Sturdier, long-stemmed forms are used commercially in the cut flower
industry.

Read more: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xerochrysum_bracteatum>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

630:

Muslims led by Muhammad conquered Mecca from the Quraysh.
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conquest_of_Mecca>

1789:
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