It’s Friday! TGIF! Did You Know…
* 1967 – Founding of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada
The 1960s was a period of dramatic change and upheaval in Canada, as it was in most western nations. As the civil rights and peace movements gained momentum, so too did the second wave of the women’s movement, bringing with it pressure to advance equality for women. The post-war boom had seen a growing number of women choosing higher education and paid employment over traditional roles, while others were demanding recognition for their work in the home and greater sharing of responsibilities between women and men.
The Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada was created in 1967 and given the mandate to “inquire into and report upon the status of women in Canada, and to recommend what steps might be taken by the federal government to ensure for women equal opportunities with men in all aspects of Canadian society.”
The groundbreaking Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada, tabled in Parliament on December 7, 1970, included recommendations on updating the legislative system and addressing such critical issues for women as poverty, family law, the Indian Act and the need for a federal representative for women.
The first Minister responsible for the Status of Women was appointed in 1971. Initially established within the Privy Council Office, Status of Women Canada became a departmental agency of the federal government in 1976.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which outlaws discrimination based on sex and a number of other grounds, was enacted as part of the Constitution Act in 1982.
The lives of Canadian women and girls have changed and improved dramatically since the days of theRoyal Commission, and while the need for improvement in some areas remains, evidence of critical progress abounds. Today Status of Women Canada continues to promote gender equality and works with its many partners to advance women’s and girls’ full participation in all aspects of Canadian life.
* 1923 Archaeologist opens tomb of King Tut
On this day in 1923, in Thebes, Egypt, English archaeologist Howard Carter enters the sealed burial chamber of the ancient Egyptian ruler King Tutankhamen.
Because the ancient Egyptians saw their pharaohs as gods, they carefully preserved their bodies after death, burying them in elaborate tombs containing rich treasures to accompany the rulers into the afterlife. In the 19th century, archeologists from all over the world flocked to Egypt, where they uncovered a number of these tombs. Many had long ago been broken into by robbers and stripped of their riches.
When Carter arrived in Egypt in 1891, he became convinced there was at least one undiscovered tomb–that of the little known Tutankhamen, or King Tut, who lived around 1400 B.C. and died when he was still a teenager. Backed by a rich Brit, Lord Carnarvon, Carter searched for five years without success. In early 1922, Lord Carnarvon wanted to call off the search, but Carter convinced him to hold on one more year.
In November 1922, the wait paid off, when Carter’s team found steps hidden in the debris near the entrance of another tomb. The steps led to an ancient sealed doorway bearing the name Tutankhamen. When Carter and Lord Carnarvon entered the tomb’s interior chambers on November 26, they were thrilled to find it virtually intact, with its treasures untouched after more than 3,000 years. The men began exploring the four rooms of the tomb, and on February 16, 1923, under the watchful eyes of a number of important officials, Carter opened the door to the last chamber.
Inside lay a sarcophagus with three coffins nested inside one another. The last coffin, made of solid gold, contained the mummified body of King Tut. Among the riches found in the tomb–golden shrines, jewelry, statues, a chariot, weapons, clothing–the perfectly preserved mummy was the most valuable, as it was the first one ever to be discovered. Despite rumors that a curse would befall anyone who disturbed the tomb, its treasures were carefully cataloged, removed and included in a famous traveling exhibition called the “Treasures of Tutankhamen.” The exhibition’s permanent home is the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
* 1804 The most daring act of the age
During the First Barbary War, U.S. Lieutenant Stephen Decatur [See featured image at the top.] leads a military mission that famed British Admiral Horatio Nelson calls the “most daring act of the age.”
In June 1801, President Thomas Jefferson ordered U.S. Navy vessels to the Mediterranean Sea in protest of continuing raids against U.S. ships by pirates from the Barbary states–Morocco, Algeria, Tunis, and Tripolitania. American sailors were often abducted along with the captured booty and ransomed back to the United States at an exorbitant price. After two years of minor confrontations, the sustained action began in June 1803 when a small U.S. expeditionary force attacked Tripoli harbor in present-day Libya.
In October 1803, the U.S. frigate Philadelphia ran aground near Tripoli and was captured by Tripolitan gunboats. The Americans feared that the well-constructed warship would be both a formidable addition to the Tripolitan navy and an innovative model for building future Tripolitan frigates. Hoping to prevent the Barbary pirates from gaining this military advantage, Lieutenant Stephen Decatur led a daring expedition into Tripoli harbor to destroy the captured American vessel on February 16, 1804.
After disguising himself and his men as Maltese sailors, Decatur’s force of 74 men, which included nine U.S. Marines, sailed into Tripoli harbor on a small two-mast ship. The Americans approached the USS Philadelphia without drawing fire from the Tripoli shore guns, boarded the ship, and attacked its Tripolitan crew, capturing or killing all but two. After setting fire to the frigate, Decatur and his men escaped without the loss of a single American. The Philadelphia subsequently exploded when its gunpowder reserve was lit by the spreading fire.
Six months later, Decatur returned to Tripoli Harbor as part of a larger American offensive and emerged as a hero again during the so-called “Battle of the Gunboats,” a naval battle that saw hand-to-hand combat between the Americans and the Tripolitans.
* 1959 Castro sworn in
On February 16, 1959, Fidel Castro is sworn in as prime minister of Cuba after leading a guerrilla campaign that forced right-wing dictator Fulgencio Batista into exile. Castro, who became commander in chief of Cuba’s armed forces after Batista was ousted on January 1, replaced the more moderate Miro Cardona as head of the country’s new provisional government.
Castro was born in the Oriente province in eastern Cuba, the son of a Spanish immigrant who had made a fortune building rail systems to transport sugar cane. He became involved in revolutionary politics while a student and in 1947 took part in an abortive attempt by Dominican exiles and Cubans to overthrow Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo. In the next year, he took part in urban riots in Bogota, Colombia. The most outstanding feature of his politics during the period was his anti-American beliefs; he was not yet an overt Marxist.
In 1951, he ran for a seat in the Cuban House of Representatives as a member of the reformist Ortodoxo Party, but General Batista seized power in a bloodless coup d’etat before the election could be held.
Various groups formed to oppose Batista’s dictatorship, and on July 26, 1953, Castro led some 160 rebels in an attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba–Cuba’s second largest military base. Castro hoped to seize weapons and announce his revolution from the base radio station, but the barracks were heavily defended, and more than half his men were captured or killed.
Castro was himself arrested and put on trial for conspiring to overthrow the Cuban government. During his trial, he argued that he and his rebels were fighting to restore democracy to Cuba, but he was nonetheless found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Two years later, Batista felt confident enough in his power that he granted a general amnesty for all political prisoners, including Castro. Castro then went with his brother Raul to Mexico, and they organized the revolutionary 26th of July Movement, enlisting recruits and joining up with Ernesto “Che” Guevara, an idealist Marxist from Argentina.
On December 2, 1956, Castro and 81 armed men landed on the Cuban coast. All of them were killed or captured except for Castro, Raul, Che, and nine others, who retreated into the Sierra Maestra mountain range to wage a guerrilla war against the Batista government. They were joined by revolutionary volunteers from all over Cuba and won a series of victories over Batista’s demoralized army. Castro was supported by the peasantry, to whom he promised land reform, while Batista received aid from the United States, which bombed suspected revolutionary positions.
By mid-1958, a number of other Cuban groups were also opposing Batista, and the United States ended military aid to his regime. In December, the 26th of July forces under Che Guevara attacked the city of Santa Clara, and Batista’s forces crumbled. Batista fled to the Dominican Republic on January 1, 1959. Castro, who had fewer than 1,000 men left at the time, took control of the Cuban government’s 30,000-man army. The other rebel leaders lacked the popular support the young and charismatic Castro enjoyed, and on February 16 he was sworn in as prime minister.
The United States initially recognized the new Cuban dictator but withdrew its support after Castro launched a program of agrarian reform, nationalized U.S. assets on the island, and declared a Marxist government. Many of Cuba’s wealthier citizens fled to the United States, where they joined the CIA in its efforts to overthrow Castro’s regime.
In April 1961, with training and support by the CIA, the Cuban exiles launched an ill-fated and unsuccessful invasion of Cuba known as the “Bay of Pigs.” The Soviet Union reacted to the attack by escalating its support to Castro’s communist government and in 1962 placed offensive nuclear missiles in Cuba. The discovery of the missiles by U.S. intelligence led to the tense “Cuban Missile Crisis,” which ended after the Soviets agreed to remove the weapons in exchange for a U.S. pledge not to invade Cuba.
Castro’s Cuba was the first communist state in the Western Hemisphere, and he would retain control of it into the 21st century, outlasting 10 U.S. presidents who opposed him with economic embargoes and political rhetoric. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Castro lost a valuable source of aid, but he made up for it by courting European and Canadian investment and tourism. In July 2006, Castro temporarily ceded power to his brother Raul after undergoing intestinal surgery. His struggles with illness continued, and he officially stepped down in February 2008. Castro died on November 25, 2016, at 90.
* 2005 The Kyoto Protocol comes into force following its ratification by Russia.
The Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty which extends the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that commits State Parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based on the scientific consensus that (a) global warming is occurring and (b) it is extremely likely that human-made CO2 emissions have predominantly caused it. The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on December 11, 1997, and entered into force on February 16, 2005. There are currently 192 parties (Canada withdrew effective December 2012) to the Protocol.
The Kyoto Protocol implemented the objective of the UNFCCC to fight global warming by reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to “a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” (Art. 2). The Protocol is based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities: it puts the obligation to reduce current emissions on developed countries on the basis that they are historically responsible for the current levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The Protocol’s first commitment period started in 2008 and ended in 2012. A second commitment period was agreed on in 2012, known as the Doha Amendment to the protocol, in which 37 countries have binding targets: Australia, the European Union (and its 28 member states), Belarus, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, and Ukraine. Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine have stated that they may withdraw from the Protocol or not put into legal force the Amendment with second-round targets. Japan, New Zealand, and Russia have participated in Kyoto’s first-round but have not taken on new targets in the second commitment period. Other developed countries without second-round targets are Canada (which withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol in 2012) and the United States (which has not ratified the Protocol). As of July 2016, 66 states have accepted the Doha Amendment, while entry into force requires the acceptance of 144 states. Of the 37 countries with binding commitments, 7 have ratified.
Negotiations were held in the framework of the yearly UNFCCC Climate Change Conferences on measures to be taken after the second commitment period ends in 2020. This resulted in the 2015 adoption of the Paris Agreement, which is a separate instrument under the UNFCCC rather than an amendment of the Kyoto protocol.
* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology http://canadachannel.ca/todayincanadianhistory/index.ph
* The Status of Women Canada http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/rc-cr/roycom/index-en.html
* On This Day – History, Film, Music and Sport http://www.onthisday.com/
* This Day In History – What Happened Today http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/
* Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyoto_Protocol