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[Daily article] July 1: John Diefenbaker

John Diefenbaker (1895–1979) led Canada as its 13th Prime Minister, 
serving from June 21, 1957 to April 22, 1963. He was the only 
Progressive Conservative party leader between 1930 and 1979 to lead it 
to an election victory, doing so three times, although only once with a 
majority of the seats in the Canadian House of Commons. Diefenbaker was 
born in southwestern Ontario in 1895. In 1903, his family migrated west 
to the portion of the Northwest Territories which would shortly 
thereafter become the province of Saskatchewan. Diefenbaker contested 
elections through the 1920s and 1930s with little success until he was 
finally elected to the House of Commons in 1940. In the House of 
Commons, he was repeatedly a candidate for the party leadership. He was 
finally successful in 1956, and led his party for eleven years. In 
1957, he led the party to its first electoral victory in 27 years and a 
year later called a snap election and led it to one of its greatest 
triumphs. Diefenbaker appointed the first woman minister to his Cabinet 
and the first aboriginal member of the Senate. During his six years as 
Prime Minister, his government obtained the passage of the Canadian 
Bill of Rights (which he introduced on July 1, 1960) and granted the 
vote to members of the First Nations and Inuit peoples.

Read the rest of this article:
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Diefenbaker>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

1569:

The Union of Lublin was signed, merging the Kingdom of Poland and the 
Grand Duchy of Lithuania into a single state, the Polish–Lithuanian 
(Continue reading)

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[Daily article] July 2: Sirius

Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky with a visual apparent 
magnitude of −1.46, almost twice as bright as Canopus, the next 
brightest star. The star has the Bayer designation Alpha Canis Majoris. 
What the naked eye perceives as a single star is actually a binary star 
system, consisting of a white main sequence star termed Sirius A, and a 
faint white dwarf companion called Sirius B. At a distance of 2.6 
parsecs (8.6 light years), the Sirius system is one of our near 
neighbors. Sirius A is about twice as massive as the Sun and has an 
absolute visual magnitude of 1.42. It is 25 times more luminous than 
the Sun but has a significantly lower luminosity than other bright 
stars such as Canopus or Rigel. The system is between 200 and 300 
million years old. It was originally composed of two bright bluish 
stars. The more massive of these, Sirius B, consumed its resources and 
became a red giant before shedding its outer layers and collapsing into 
its current state as a white dwarf around 120 million years ago. Sirius 
is also known colloquially as the "Dog Star", reflecting its prominence 
in its constellation, Canis Major. The heliacal rising of Sirius marked 
the flooding of the Nile in Ancient Egypt and the 'Dog Days' of summer 
for the Ancient Greeks, while to the Polynesians it marked winter and 
was an important star for navigation around the Pacific Ocean.

Read the rest of this article:
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sirius>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

1644:

The combined forces of the Scottish Covenanters and the English 
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[Daily article] July 3: Andean Condor

The Andean Condor is a species of South American bird in the New World 
vulture family Cathartidae and is the only member of the genus vultur. 
Found in the Andes mountains and adjacent Pacific coasts of western 
South America, it is the largest flying land bird in the Western 
Hemisphere. It is a large black vulture with a ruff of white feathers 
surrounding the base of the neck and, especially in the male, large 
white patches on the wings. The head and neck are nearly featherless, 
and are a dull red color, which may flush and therefore change color in 
response to the bird's emotional state. In the male, there is a wattle 
on the neck and a large, dark red comb or caruncle on the crown of the 
head. Unlike most birds of prey, the male is larger than the female. 
The condor is primarily a scavenger, feeding on carrion. It prefers 
large carcasses, such as those of deer or cattle. It reaches sexual 
maturity at five or six years of age and roosts at elevations of 3,000 
to 5,000 m (9,800 to 16,000 ft), generally on inaccessible rock ledges. 
One or two eggs are usually laid. It is one of the world’s 
longest-living birds, with a lifespan of up to 50 years. The Andean 
Condor is a national symbol of Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, 
Colombia, and Ecuador, and plays an important role in the folklore and 
mythology of the South American Andean regions. The Andean Condor is 
considered near threatened by the IUCN. Captive breeding programs have 
been instituted in several countries.

Read the rest of this article:
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andean_Condor>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

987:
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[Daily article] July 4: History of the Grand Canyon area

The known history of the Grand Canyon area stretches back 10,500 years 
when the first evidence for human presence in the area started. Native 
Americans have been living at Grand Canyon and in the area now covered 
by Grand Canyon National Park for at least the last 4,000 of those 
years. Drought in the late 13th century was the likely cause for these 
cultures to move on. Under direction by conquistador Francisco Vasquez 
de Coronado to find the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola, Captain Garcia 
Lopez de Cardenas led a party of Spanish soldiers with Hopi guides to 
the Grand Canyon in September of 1540. Not finding what they were 
looking for, they left. Over 200 years passed before two Spanish 
priests became the second party of non-Native Americans to see the 
canyon. In 1869, U.S. Army Major John Wesley Powell led the Powell 
Geographic Expedition through the canyon on the Colorado River. This 
and later study by geologists uncovered the geology of the Grand Canyon 
area and helped to advance that science. In the late 19th century there 
was interest in the region because of its promise of mineral 
resources—mainly copper and asbestos. Although first afforded Federal 
protection in 1893 as a forest reserve and later as a U.S. National 
Monument, Grand Canyon did not achieve U.S. National Park status until 
1919, three years after the creation of the National Park Service. 
Today, Grand Canyon National Park receives about five million visitors 
each year.

Read the rest of this article:
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Grand_Canyon_area>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

1610:
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[Daily article] July 5: July 2009 Ürümqi riots

The July 2009 Ürümqi riots were a series of violent riots over several 
days that broke out on 5 July 2009 in Ürümqi, the capital city of 
Xinjiang, China. Protests calling for a full investigation into the 
Shaoguan incident, a brawl in southern China several days earlier in 
which two Uyghurs had been killed, escalated into violence. During the 
first day's rioting mainly Han ("ethnic Chinese") were targeted; two 
days later hundreds of Han people gathered and clashed with both police 
and Uyghurs. Chinese officials said that a total of 197 people died, 
with 1,721 others injured and considerable damage to property; Uyghur 
groups say the death toll is higher than officially disclosed. Human 
Rights Watch documented numerous cases of arrests and disappearances in 
the wake of the riots. Rioting began when the police confronted the 
march, but observers disagree on what caused the protests to become 
violent. The Chinese central government alleges that the riots 
themselves were planned from abroad by the World Uyghur Congress and 
its leader Rebiya Kadeer, while Kadeer denies fomenting the violence in 
her struggle for her people's right to self-determination. Uyghur 
groups claim that the escalation was caused by the police's use of 
excessive force. Chinese media coverage of the Ürümqi riots was 
extensive.

Read the rest of this article:
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/July_2009_%C3%9Cr%C3%BCmqi_riots>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

1687:

The Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica by Isaac Newton was 
(Continue reading)

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[Daily article] July 6: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks

Expedition to the Barrier Peaks is an adventure module written by Gary 
Gygax (pictured) for the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game. While 
Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) is typically a fantasy game, the adventure 
includes science fiction elements. It takes place on a downed 
spaceship; the crew has died, but robots and strange creatures still 
inhabit the ship. The player characters fight monsters and robots, and 
gather futuristic weapons and colored access cards to advance the 
story. The adventure was first played at the 1976 Origins II 
convention. TSR published the adventure in 1980, updated for Advanced 
Dungeons & Dragons. The adventure is a favorite of many fans, including 
Stephen Colbert. Dungeon magazine ranked it the fifth-best D&D 
adventure of all time, and White Dwarf and The Space Gamer magazines 
gave it positive reviews.

Read the rest of this article:
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expedition_to_the_Barrier_Peaks>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

371 BC:

The Post-Peloponnesian War Conflicts: The Thebans defeated the Spartans 
at the Battle of Leuctra in Boeotia in the territory of Thespiae, 
weakening Sparta's influence over the Greek peninsula.
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Leuctra>

1777:

American Revolutionary War: American troops at Fort Ticonderoga in New 
(Continue reading)

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[Daily article] July 7: Gustav Mahler

Gustav Mahler (1860–1911) was an Austrian late-Romantic composer, and 
one of the leading conductors of his generation. After graduating from 
the Vienna Conservatory in 1878, he held a succession of conducting 
posts of rising importance in the opera houses of Europe, culminating 
in his appointment in 1897 as director of the Vienna Court Opera 
(Hofoper). During his ten years in Vienna, Mahler's innovative 
productions and insistence on the highest performance standards ensured 
his reputation as one of the greatest of opera conductors, particularly 
as an interpreter of the stage works of Wagner and Mozart. The 
compositions of Mahler's maturity are confined to the genres of 
symphony and song. His symphonies were often controversial when first 
performed, and were slow to receive critical and popular approval; an 
exception was the triumphant premiere of his Eighth Symphony in 1910. 
After 1945 the music was rediscovered and championed by a new 
generation of listeners; Mahler then became one of the most frequently 
performed and recorded of all composers, a situation that continues 
into the 21st century.

Read the rest of this article:
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustav_Mahler>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

1585:

The Treaty of Nemours was first signed, forcing Henry III of France to 
give in to the demands of the Catholic League and revoking all edicts 
granting concessions to the Huguenots.
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Nemours>
(Continue reading)

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[Daily article] July 8: Rogers Locomotive and Machine Works

Rogers Locomotive and Machine Works was a 19th-century manufacturer of 
railroad steam locomotives based in Paterson, New Jersey in the United 
States. They built more than 6,000 steam locomotives for railroads 
around the world. Most railroads in 19th-century United States rostered 
at least one Rogers-built locomotive. The company's most famous product 
was a locomotive named The General, built in December 1855, which was 
one of the principals of the Great Locomotive Chase of the American 
Civil War. Rogers was the second-most popular American locomotive 
manufacturer of the 19th century behind the Baldwin Locomotive Works 
amongst almost a hundred manufacturers. The company was founded by 
Thomas Rogers in an 1832 partnership with Morris Ketchum and Jasper 
Grosvenor as Rogers, Ketchum and Grosvenor. Rogers remained president 
until his death in 1856 when his son, Jacob S. Rogers, took the 
position and reorganized the company as Rogers Locomotive and Machine 
Works. The younger Rogers led the company until he retired in 1893. 
Robert S. Hughes then became president and reorganized the company as 
Rogers Locomotive Company, which he led until his death in 1900.

Read the rest of this article:
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogers_Locomotive_and_Machine_Works>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

1579:

Our Lady of Kazan , a holy icon of the Russian Orthodox Church, was 
discovered underground in Kazan, present-day Tatarstan, Russia.
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_Kazan>

(Continue reading)

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[Daily article] July 9: Chalukya dynasty

The Chalukya dynasty was an Indian royal dynasty that ruled large parts 
of southern and central India between the 6th and the 12th centuries. 
During this period, they ruled as three related, but individual 
dynasties. The earliest dynasty, known as the "Badami Chalukyas", ruled 
from their capital Vatapi (modern Badami) from the middle of the 6th 
century. The Badami Chalukyas began to assert their independence at the 
decline of the Kadamba kingdom of Banavasi and rapidly rose to 
prominence during the reign of Pulakesi II. After the death of 
Pulakesi II, the Eastern Chalukyas became an independent kingdom in the 
eastern Deccan. They ruled from their capital Vengi until about the 
11th century. In the western Deccan, the rise of the Rashtrakutas in 
the middle of 8th century eclipsed the Chalukyas of Badami before being 
revived by their descendants, the Western Chalukyas, in late 10th 
century. These Western Chalukyas ruled from Kalyani (modern 
Basavakalyan) till the end of the 12th century. The rule of the 
Chalukyas marks an important milestone in the history of South India 
and a golden age in the history of Karnataka.

Read the rest of this article:
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chalukya_dynasty>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

1789:

French Revolution: The National Constituent Assembly was formed from 
the National Assembly, and began to function as a governing body and a 
drafter for a new constitution.
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Constituent_Assembly>
(Continue reading)

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[Daily article] July 10: Royal Gold Cup

The Royal Gold Cup is a solid gold covered cup lavishly decorated with 
enamel and pearls. It was made for the French royal family at the end 
of the 14th century, and later belonged to several English monarchs, 
before spending nearly 300 years in Spain. Since 1892 it has been in 
the British Museum, and is generally agreed to be the outstanding 
survival of late medieval French plate. The cup has a cover that lifts 
off, and once stood on a triangular stand, now lost. The stem of the 
cup has twice been extended by the addition of cylindrical bands, so 
that it was originally a good deal shorter, giving the overall shape "a 
typically robust and stocky elegance." The gold surfaces are decorated 
with scenes in basse-taille enamel with translucent colours that 
reflect light from the gold beneath; many areas of gold both underneath 
the enamel and in the background have engraved and pointillé decoration 
worked in the gold. Scenes from the life of Saint Agnes run round the 
top of the cover and the sloping underside of the main body. The 
symbols of the Four Evangelists run round the foot of the cup, and 
there are enamel medallions at the centre of the inside of both the cup 
and the cover. The lower of the two added bands contains enamel Tudor 
roses on a diapered pointillé background; this was apparently added 
under Henry VIII.

Read the rest of this article:
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Gold_Cup>

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Today's selected anniversaries:

1553:

Four days after the death of her predecessor, Edward VI, Lady Jane Grey 
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