; in the red
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in the red


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									Here is today's word of the day:

Here are two examples of potential use:

Ex 1.: The passport is invalid without the signature of its holder.
Ex 2.: Holder of shares of well-known companies make huge profits.


Definition : destructive creature, an insect or small animal
Example : Apartments and houses are often hosts to common pests such as cockroaches, fleas,


pest – plaga szkodnik
cockroach – karaluch
flea – pchła
termite – termit
ant – mrówka
mouse ( plu. mice)- mysz
rat –szczur
mold – roztocz
mildew – pleśń

Tuncate (verb)

Make shorter as if by cutting off.
Synonyms: cut short
Usage: I am going to truncate the time I spend at work.

Price mechanism

System of interdependence between supply of a good or service and its price. It generally
sends the price up when supply is below demand, and down when supply exceeds demand.
Price mechanism also restricts supply when suppliers leave the market due to low prevailing
prices, and increases it when more suppliers enter more...

Idiom of the day
in the red
Meaning: If a person or a company is in the red, their debts are greater than their assets.

For example:

      Even if we make a profit this year, we owe so much money that we'll probably still be
       in the red.

      I don't like being in the red, so I don't borrow money.

Note: This comes from the practice in accounting of using red ink to make entries into a
"debits" column.

Quick Quiz:

If someone is in the red they
    a. are owed money
    b. owe money
    c. have been owed money

Slang of the day

Meaning: an unfashionable or socially awkward person

For example:
      It's weird how Greg's one of the coolest guys in the school, but his brother's such a

      Try not to be such a dag, Kenny. And stop wearing those daggy old clothes while
       you're at it.

Variety: This slang is typically used in Australian English but may be used in other varieties
of English too.

Quick Quiz:

If someone is often called a dag, they are probably
    a. an unfashionable Australian
    b. a bad-tempered American
    c. a dirty Englishman

Phrasal Verb of the day
pass on
Meaning: If you pass something on, you give it to another person after receiving it yourself.

For example:

      pass on sth You should wear a mask over your mouth so that you don't pass on the

      pass sth on After taking your piece of cake, pass the plate on to the next person.

Quick Quiz:

My family was very poor so when I grew too big for my clothes, I had to pass them on to my
  a. older brothers and sisters
  b. younger brothers and sisters
  c. mother and father

Saying of the day
All that glitters is not gold
Possible interpretation: The attractive exterior of something is not a good indicator of its
real nature. It may look valuable, but not be valuable.

Note: glitter (verb) = shine with reflected light | gold (noun) = a yellow precious metal

Quick Quiz:
The saying "All that glitters is not gold" reminds us that something glittering
   a. is not gold
   b. is gold
   c. may not be gold

Quote for today
Lyndon B. Johnson
"Being president is like being a jackass in a hailstorm. There's nothing to do but to stand there
and take it. "

jackass - dureń , głupek

The world is more malleable than you think and it's waiting for you to hammer it into shape."

malleable- rozciagliwy , gietki , kowalny

Jokes for today
Why did the blonde take a ladder into the bar?
She heard the drinks were on the house.

ladder – drabina

I'm so arrogant, when I travel to other people's countries, I refer to them in their own country
as 'foreigner.' I act like they visiting me.

Proverb for today
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Kilka słów o przecinku w angielskim
Przecinek (ang. comma) jest jednym z najważniejszych elementów interpunkcji. Zakres jego
użycia w języku polskim i angielskim różni się najbardziej spośród wszystkich znaków
przestankowych. Generalnie w angielszczyźnie stosuje się znacznie mniej przecinków, a
pauza zrobiona podczas czytania tekstu nie oznacza konieczności wstawienia przecinka.
Poniżej omawiamy zwięźle najważniejsze różnice.

 1 W języku angielskim stosuje się przecinek przed spójnikami współrzędnymi (and, but, so,
or, nor, yet) kiedy następuje po nich dłuższe zdanie, zwłaszcza w odmianie amerykańskiej.

2 W angielskim przecinek stosuje się do oddzielenia okolicznika (zwłaszcza gdy występuje na
początku) i innych fraz wprowadzających od reszty zdania, np.:
At last, they reached the shore.
After the meeting, we went to the cinema.
As far as I know, she doesn’t smoke.

3 W języku angielskim używamy przecinków tylko do oddzielenia przymiotników
współrzędnych – takich, pomiędzy którymi można wstawić spójnik „i‖. Przecinków nie
używa się między przymiotnikami różnych kategorii, np.:

He is a tall, good-looking man. (= He is a tall and good-looking man.)
It’s a red sports car. (Nie można powiedzieć *It’s a red and sports car.)

4 W amerykańskiej odmianie języka angielskiego używa się w wyliczeniach przecinka także
przed spójnikiem and poprzedzającym ostatni element listy:

John, Peter, Mark, and Adam player bridge all night. (US)

5 W języku angielskim używa się przecinka tam, gdzie w języku polskim używa się innego

a) sygnalizując mowę niezależną, a więc przed zdaniami przytoczonymi w miejscu, gdzie w
języku polskim używa się dwukropka:

Mark said, “Don’t be ridiculous”.

b) po nagłówkach listów w miejscu, gdzie w języku polskim używa się wykrzyknika:

Dear Kate, – Droga Kasiu!

6 W języku polskim przecinek stosuje się zawsze do oddzielenia zdań podrzędnych od
nadrzędnych. W języku angielskim używa się przecinka do oddzielenia imiesłowowych
równoważników zdań oraz zdań podrzędnie złożonych okolicznikowych, w których zdanie
okolicznikowe jest na początku (If…, When…, In order to…, Because…, Despite…, itp.).

I ate supper, watching TV.
If the weather is fine, I’ll go for a walk.
ALE: I’ll go for a walk if the weather is fine.

Because she was suspicious, she refused to attend the meeting.

ALE: She refused to attend the meeting because she was suspicious.

Nie dotyczy to innych zdań podrzędnych. Nie ma zatem przecinka w angielskich zdaniach
dopełnieniowych (spójnik that), podmiotowych (spójniki what i who) oraz przydawkowych
(who, which, whose).
He said that he wouldn’t come.
I don’t know what to do.
This is my neighbour who I told you about.

 a) stawiamy przecinek przed słowem which w znaczeniu „co‖:
He said it was an accident, which may be true. – Powiedział, że to był wypadek, co może być
b) stawiamy przecinek w tzw. zdaniach przydawkowych nieograniczających, kiedy zdanie
składowe ze spójnikiem „który‖ stanowi informację dodatkową, a jej usuniecie nie wpływa na
znaczenie zdania. Porównajcie:

My uncle who lives in Australia is coming to see us.

(Osoba mówiąca ma kilku wujków, zatem informacja o zamieszkaniu jest konieczna do
uściślenia, o którego krewnego chodzi.)

My uncle, who lives in Australia, is coming to see us.

(Osoba mówiąca ma tylko jednego wujka, zatem informacja o miejscu zamieszkania wujka
jest dodatkowa i należy traktować ją jako wtrącenie, które oddzielamy przecinkami.)

This day in history Dec. 9

Lead story

Dec 9, 1992: U.S Marines storm Mogadishu, Somalia

On this day in 1992, 1,800 United States Marines arrive in Mogadishu, Somalia, to spearhead
a multinational force aimed at restoring order in the conflict-ridden country.
Following centuries of colonial rule by countries including Portugal, Britain and Italy,
Mogadishu became the capital of an independent Somalia in 1960. Less than 10 years later, a
military group led by Major General Muhammad Siad Barre seized power and declared
Somalia a socialist state. A drought in the mid-1970s combined with an unsuccessful rebellion
by ethnic Somalis in a neighboring province of Ethiopia to deprive many of food and shelter.
By 1981, close to 2 million of the country's inhabitants were homeless. Though a peace
accord was signed with Ethiopia in 1988, fighting increased between rival clans within
Somalia, and in January 1991 Barre was forced to flee the capital. Over the next 23 months,
Somalia's civil war killed some 50,000 people; another 300,000 died of starvation as United
Nations peacekeeping forces struggled in vain to restore order and provide relief amid the
chaos of war.
    In early December 1992, outgoing U.S. President George H.W. Bush sent the contingent
of Marines to Mogadishu as part of a mission dubbed Operation Restore Hope. Backed by the
U.S. troops, international aid workers were soon able to restore food distribution and other
humanitarian aid operations. Sporadic violence continued, including the murder of 24 U.N.
soldiers from Pakistan in 1993. As a result, the U.N. authorized the arrest of General
Mohammed Farah Aidid, leader of one of the rebel clans. On October 3, 1993, during an
unsuccessful attempt to make the arrest, rebels shot down two of the Marines' Black Hawk
helicopters and killed 18 U.S. soldiers.
As horrified TV viewers watched images of the bloodshed—-including footage of Aidid's
supporters dragging the body of one dead soldier through the streets of Mogadishu,
cheering—-President Bill Clinton immediately gave the order for all American soldiers to
withdraw from Somalia by March 31, 1994. Other Western nations followed suit. When the
last U.N. peacekeepers left in 1995, ending a mission that had cost more than $2 billion,
Mogadishu still lacked a functioning government. A ceasefire accord signed in Kenya in 2002
failed to put a stop to the violence, and though a new parliament was convened in 2004, rival
factions in various regions of Somalia continue to struggle for control of the troubled nation.


Dce. 9, 1921: GM engineers discover that leaded gas reduces "knock" in auto engines

On this day, a young engineer at General Motors named Thomas Midgeley Jr. discovers that
when he adds a compound called tetraethyl lead (TEL) to gasoline, he eliminates the
unpleasant noises (known as "knock" or "pinging") that internal-combustion engines make
when they run. Midgeley could scarcely have imagined the consequences of his discovery:
For more than five decades, oil companies would saturate the gasoline they sold with lead--a
deadly poison.
    In 1911, a scientist named Charles Kettering, Midgeley's boss at GM, invented an electric
ignition system for internal-combustion cars that made their old-fashioned hand-cranked
starters obsolete. Now, driving a gas-fueled auto was no trouble at all. Unfortunately, as more
and more people bought GM cars, more and more people noticed a problem: When they
heated up, their engines made an alarming racket, banging and clattering as though their metal
parts were loose under the hood.
    The problem, Kettering and Midgeley eventually figured out, was that ordinary gasoline
was much too explosive for spark-ignited car engines: that is, what we now call its octane (a
measure of its resistance to detonation) was too low. To raise the fuel's octane level and make
it less prone to detonation and knocking, Midgeley wrote later, he mixed it with almost
anything he could think of, from "melted butter and camphor to ethyl acetate and aluminum
chloride...[but] most of these had no more effect than spitting in the Great Lakes."
He found a couple of additives that did work, however, and lead was just one of them. Iodine
worked, but producing it was much too complicated. Ethyl alcohol also worked, and it was
cheap--however, anyone with an ordinary still could make it, which meant that GM could not
patent it or profit from it. Thus, from a corporate point of view, lead was the best anti-knock
additive there was.
    In February 1923, a Dayton filling station sold the first tankful of leaded gasoline. A few
GM engineers witnessed this big moment, but Midgeley did not, because he was in bed with
severe lead poisoning. He recovered; however, in April 1924, lead poisoning killed two of his
unluckier colleagues, and in October, five workers at a Standard Oil lead plant died too, after
what one reporter called "wrenching fits of violent insanity." (Almost 40 of the plant's
workers suffered severe neurological symptoms like hallucinations and seizures.)
Still, for decades auto and oil companies denied that lead posed any health risks. Finally, in
the 1970s, the Environmental Protection Agency required that carmakers phase out lead-
compatible engines in the cars they sold in the United States. Today, leaded gasoline is still in
use in some parts of Eastern Europe, South America and the Middle East.

Dec. 9, 2003: Cold spell leads to tragedy in Iran

Unseasonably low temperatures in Tehran, Iran, lead to the deaths of at least 40 people on this
day in 2003. Rarely do such large groups die at the same time.
    In general, death from freezing occurs when the body's core temperature reaches 77
degrees Fahrenheit, a fact discovered by Nazi doctors during experiments on prisoners at the
notorious Dachau concentration camp during World War II. In 1994, however, a two-year-old
child in Canada survived a body temperature of just 57 degrees suffered when she wandered
away from her Saskatchewan home.
    When core body temperature goes down to 97 degrees, neck and shoulder muscles tighten
and extremities begin to ache. When it gets to 95 degrees, mild hypothermia sets in and
involuntary trembling and shivering occurs as the body tries to generate its own heat. Two
degrees lower and amnesia and short-term memory loss is common. When body temperature
reaches 88, shivering is no longer possible and people experience general numbness.
In some cases, a phenomenon known as "paradoxical undressing" occurs, in which a person
about to freeze to death actually rips off their clothes. The effects of hypothermia can also be
delayed--in one instance, Danish fishermen stuck in the North Sea for 90 minutes were able to
walk on the deck of a rescue ship before falling down and dying.
One notorious incident of hypothermia occurred at the Four Inns Walk in England in 1964.
The race involved 240 racers (all in excellent condition) hiking 43 miles over the English
moors. Although the temperature never fell below freezing, the wind and rain caused three
people to freeze to death and put another four in critical condition. Researchers later
determined that a key factor in the deaths was that the victims had failed to take in enough
calories during the hike.
    The 2003 freeze in Tehran was unusual in that so many people died in a single night. The
previous year in Moscow, between 5 and 10 people froze to death every day during the winter
for a total of more than 300 in the city alone.

General Interest

Dec 9, 1958: John Birch Society founded
In Indianapolis, retired Boston candy manufacturer Robert H.W. Welch, Jr., establishes the
John Birch Society, a right-wing organization dedicated to fighting what it perceives to be the
extensive infiltration of communism into American society. Welch named the society in
honor of John Birch, considered by many to be the first American casualty in the struggle
against communism. In 1945, Birch, a Baptist missionary and U.S. Army intelligence
specialist, was killed by Chinese communists in the northern province of Anhwei.
    The John Birch Society, initially founded with only 11 members, had by the early 1960s
grown to a membership of nearly 100,000 Americans and received annual private
contributions of several million dollars. The society revived the spirit of McCarthyism,
claiming in unsubstantiated accusations that a vast communist conspiracy existed within the
U.S. government. Among others, the organization implicated President Dwight D.
Eisenhower and Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. However, after the debacle of
Senator Joseph McCarthy's public hearings in the early 1950s, America became more wary of
radical anti-communism, and few of the society's sensational charges were taken seriously by
mainstream American society. The John Birch Society remains active today, and its members
seek "to expose a semi-secret international cabal whose members sit in the highest places of
influence and power worldwide."

Cold War

Dec. 9 1950: Harry Gold sent to prison for his role in atomic espionage

Harry Gold--who had confessed to serving as a courier between Klaus Fuchs, a British
scientist who stole top-secret information on the atomic bomb, and Soviet agents--is
sentenced to 30 years in jail for his crime. Gold's arrest and confession led to the arrest of
David Greenglass, who then implicated his brother-in-law and sister, Julius and Ethel
    Gold's arrest was part of a massive FBI investigation into Soviet espionage, particularly
the theft of atomic secrets. Gold, a 39-year-old research chemist, made the acquaintance of
British atomic scientist Klaus Fuchs during the latter's trips to the United States during World
War II. Fuchs worked at the Los Alamos laboratory on the Manhattan Project, the top secret
U.S. program to develop an atomic weapon. David Greenglass was also employed at Los
Alamos. In February 1950, Fuchs was arrested in Great Britain and charged with passing
atomic secrets on to the Soviets. He was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in a British
prison. Fuchs then accused Gold of having been the go-between with Soviet agents. Gold was
picked up a short time later and eventually confessed to his part. He explained that, at the
time, he did not believe that he was helping an enemy, but was instead assisting a wartime
ally of the United States. Further questioning of Gold led him to implicate David Greenglass.
Greenglass then informed on Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, claiming that both of them actively
spied for the Soviet Union during World War II and after. The Rosenbergs were later
convicted and executed for espionage.

General Interest

Dec. 958: John Birch Society founded

In Indianapolis, retired Boston candy manufacturer Robert H.W. Welch, Jr., establishes the
John Birch Society, a right-wing organization dedicated to fighting what it perceives to be the
extensive infiltration of communism into American society. Welch named the society in
honor of John Birch, considered by many to be the first American casualty in the struggle
against communism. In 1945, Birch, a Baptist missionary and U.S. Army intelligence
specialist, was killed by Chinese communists in the northern province of Anhwei.
    The John Birch Society, initially founded with only 11 members, had by the early 1960s
grown to a membership of nearly 100,000 Americans and received annual private
contributions of several million dollars. The society revived the spirit of McCarthyism,
claiming in unsubstantiated accusations that a vast communist conspiracy existed within the
U.S. government. Among others, the organization implicated President Dwight D.
Eisenhower and Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. However, after the debacle of
Senator Joseph McCarthy's public hearings in the early 1950s, America became more wary of
radical anti-communism, and few of the society's sensational charges were taken seriously by
mainstream American society. The John Birch Society remains active today, and its members
seek "to expose a semi-secret international cabal whose members sit in the highest places of
influence and power worldwide
General Interest

Dec. 87: ntifada begins on Gaza Strip

In the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip, the first riots of the Palestinian intifada, or "shaking off" in
Arabic, begin one day after an Israeli truck crashed into a station wagon carrying Palestinian
workers in the Jabalya refugee district of Gaza, killing four and wounding 10. Gaza
Palestinians saw the incident as a deliberate act of retaliation against the killing of a Jew in
Gaza several days before, and on December 9 they took to the streets in protest, burning tires
and throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli police and troops. At Jabalya, an Israeli
army patrol car fired on Palestinian attackers, killing a 17-year-old and wounding 16 others.
The next day, crack Israeli paratroopers were sent into Gaza to quell the violence, and riots
spread to the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
     December 9 marked the formal beginning of the intifada, but demonstrations, small-scale
riots, and violence directed against Israelis had been steadily escalating for months. The year
1987 marked the 20-year anniversary of the Israeli conquest of the Gaza Strip and the West
Bank, the formerly Egyptian- and Jordanian-controlled lands that the Palestinians called
home. After the Six Day War of 1967, Israel set up military administrations in the occupied
territories and permanently annexed East Jerusalem in the West Bank. With the support of the
Israeli government, Israeli settlers moved into the occupied territories, seizing Arab land. By
December 1987, 2,200 armed Jewish settlers occupied 40 percent of the Gaza Strip, while
650,000 impoverished Palestinians were crowded into the other 60 percent, making the
Palestinian portion of the tiny Gaza Strip one of the most densely populated areas on earth.
In December 1987, despair by the Palestinians over their plight exploded in the intifada. The
grassroots uprising soon came under the control of Palestinian leaders who formed the
Unified National Command of the Uprising, which had ties to the Palestine Liberation
Organization (PLO). Although images of young refugee-camp Palestinians throwing rocks at
Israeli troops dominated television reports of the intifada, the movement was widespread
across Palestinian society. Affluent Palestinians and women's groups joined militant groups in
strikes, boycotts, and other sophisticated tactics in their effort to win Palestinian self-rule.
In July 1988, Jordan's King Hussein renounced all administrative responsibility for the West
Bank, thereby strengthening the Palestinian influence there. In November 1988, the PLO
voted to proclaim the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Meanwhile, the
intifada raged on, and by its first anniversary more than 300 Palestinians had been killed,
more than 11,000 had been wounded, and many more were arrested.
     In the final weeks of 1988, PLO leader Yasser Arafat surprised the world by denouncing
terrorism, recognizing the State of Israel's right to exist, and authorizing the beginning of
"land-for-peace" negotiations with Israel. In 1992, Labor Party leader Yitzhak Rabin became
Israeli prime minister and vowed to move quickly on the peace process. He froze new Israeli
settlements in the occupied territory, and the intifada was called off after five years.
     In 1993, secret Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in Oslo, Norway, resulted in the signing of
the historic Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements in
Washington, D.C., on September 13. The accord called for the withdrawal of Israeli troops
from the Gaza        Strip and the West Bank town of Jericho and the establishment of a
Palestinian government that would eventually be granted authority over much of the West
     Despite attempts by extremists on both sides to sabotage the peace process with violence,
the Israelis completed their withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Jericho in May 1994. In July,
Arafat entered Jericho amid much Palestinian jubilation and set up his government--the
Palestinian Authority. In 1994, Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and Israeli
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts at
     In 1995, Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish extremist at a peace rally in Tel Aviv, and
the Israeli-Palestinian peace process stalled under his successors: Shimon Peres, Benjamin
Netanyahu, and Ehud Barak. In September 2000, the worst violence since the end of the
intifada erupted between Israelis and Palestinians after rightist Likud Party leader Ariel
Sharon visited the Temple Mount, a religious site in Jerusalem of great importance to both
Jews and Muslims, the latter of whom control it. Seeking a strong leader to suppress the
bloodshed, Israelis elected Sharon prime minister in February 2001. After suffering a stroke,
he was replaced by his deputy, Ehud Olmert, in April 2006. A permanent cease-fire and return
to the peace process remain elusive.

General Interest
Dec. 9 1872 The first African American to become Governor of a U.S. state.

Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback (May 10, 1837 – December 21, 1921) was the first
African American to become Governor of a U.S. state. He was also the first non-white
(biracial) Governor of Louisiana. Pinchback, a Republican, served as the Governor of
Louisiana for thirty-five days, from December 9, 1872, to January 13, 1873.
    Born to a former slave and a white planter, Pinckney Pinchback was America's first
African-American governor. During the American Civil War, he raised and led a company of
black Union volunteers, called the Corps d'Afrique, in Union-held New Orleans. After the
war, he was elected to the Louisiana senate and served as lieutenant governor. In 1872, he
became governor when Henry Warmoth was impeached. How long was it before another
African American held a gubernatorial office in the US?

Dec5 . 90: Walesa elected president of Poland

In Poland, Lech Walesa, founder of the Solidarity trade union, wins a landslide election
victory, becoming the first directly elected Polish leader.
Walesa, born in 1943, was an electrician at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk when he was fired
for union agitation in 1976. When protests broke out in the Gdansk shipyard over an increase
in food prices in August 1980, Walesa climbed the shipyard fence and joined the thousands of
workers inside. He was elected leader of the strike committee, and three days later the strikers'
demands were met. Walesa then helped coordinate other strikes in Gdansk and demanded that
the Polish government allow the free formation of trade unions and the right to strike. On
August 30, the government conceded to the strikers' demands, legalizing trade unionism and
granting greater freedom of religious and political expression.
    Millions of Polish workers and farmers came together to form unions, and Solidarity was
formed as a national federation of unions, with Walesa as its chairman. Under Walesa's
charismatic leadership, the organization grew in size and political influence, soon becoming a
major threat to the authority of the Polish government. On December 13, 1981, martial law
was declared in Poland, Solidarity was outlawed, and Walesa and other labor leaders were
    In November 1982, overwhelming public outcry forced Walesa's release, but Solidarity
remained illegal. In 1983, Walesa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Fearing involuntary
exile, he declined to travel to Norway to accept the award. Walesa continued as leader of the
now-underground Solidarity movement, and he was subjected to continual monitoring and
harassment by the Communist authorities.
    In 1988, deteriorating economic conditions led to a new wave of labor strikes across
Poland, and the government was forced to negotiate with Walesa. In April 1989, Solidarity
was again legalized, and its members were allowed to enter a limited number of candidates in
upcoming elections. By September, a Solidarity-led government coalition was in place, with
Walesa's colleague Tadeusz Mazowiecki as premier. In 1990, Poland's first direct presidential
election was held, and Walesa won by a landslide.
    President Walesa successfully implemented free-market reforms, but unfortunately he was
a far more effective labor leader than president. In 1995, he was narrowly defeated in his
reelection by former communist Aleksander Kwasniewski, head of the Democratic Left

Dec. 992: Separation of Charles and Diana announced

British Prime Minister John Major announces the formal separation of Charles, Prince of
Wales and heir to the British throne, and his wife, Princess Diana. Major explained that the
royal couple were separating "amicably." The report came after several years of speculation
by the tabloid press that the marriage was in peril, citing evidence that Diana and Charles
spent vacations apart and official visits in separate rooms.
    On July 29, 1981, nearly one billion television viewers in 74 countries tuned in to witness
the marriage of Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, to Lady Diana Spencer, a young
English schoolteacher. Married in a grand ceremony at St. Paul's Cathedral in the presence of
2,650 guests, the couple's romance was, for the moment, the envy of the world. Their first
child, Prince William, was born in 1982, and their second, Prince Henry, in 1984.
    Before long, however, the fairy tale couple grew apart, an experience that was particularly
painful under the watchful eyes of the world's tabloid media. Diana and Charles separated in
1992, though they continued to carry out their royal duties. In August 1996, two months after
Queen Elizabeth II urged the couple to divorce, the prince and princess reached a final
agreement. In exchange for a generous settlement, and the right to retain her apartments at
Kensington Palace and her title of "Princess of Wales," Diana agreed to relinquish the title of
"Her Royal Highness" and any future claims to the British throne.
    In the year following the divorce, the popular princess seemed well on her way to
achieving her dream of becoming "a queen in people's hearts," but on August 31, 1997, she
was killed with her companion Dodi Fayed in a car accident in Paris. An investigation
conducted by the French police concluded that the driver, who also died in the crash, was
heavily intoxicated and caused the accident while trying to escape the paparazzi
photographers who consistently tailed Diana during any public outing.
Prince Charles married the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker Bowles, on April 9, 2005.


Dec. 983: Pacino stars in Scarface

The actor Al Pacino stars as a Cuban refugee who becomes a Miami crime boss in Scarface,
which opens in theaters on this day in 1983.
    In Scarface, Pacino played Tony Montana, who arrives in Florida from Cuba in 1980 and
eventually becomes wealthy from his involvement in the booming cocaine business. Things
fall apart when Tony becomes addicted to the drug and his world collapses in violence.
Directed by Brian De Palma from a screenplay by Oliver Stone, Scarface co-starred Michelle
Pfeiffer, Steven Bauer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Robert Loggia. The film was
loosely based on a 1932 gangster film of the same name, directed by Howard Hawks and
reportedly inspired in part by the real-life mobster Al ―Scarface‖ Capone. Though De Palma’s
Scarface received mixed reviews upon its initial release and was criticized for its violence, it
proved to be a success at the box-office and went on to achieve pop-culture status.
     Tony Montana is just one of many notable roles in the career of Pacino, who was born on
April 25, 1940, in New York City. He first gained notice for his portrayal as a young drug
addict in 1971’s The Panic in Needle Park, which was produced by Dominick Dunne and
written by Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne. Pacino’s next film (just the third of his
career) was the director Francis Ford Coppola’s now-iconic crime-family drama The
Godfather (1972), co-starring Marlon Brando, James Caan, Diane Keaton and Robert Duvall.
Pacino received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his performance as the
conflicted crime boss Michael Corleone, a role he would reprise in the acclaimed sequels The
Godfather: Part II (1974) and The Godfather: Part III (1990).
     Throughout the rest of the 1970s, Pacino turned in a number of acclaimed performances,
garnering three Academy Award nominations for Best Actor, for Serpico (1973), Dog Day
Afternoon (1975) and …And Justice for All (1979). In the ensuing decades, the prolific actor
continued to rack up an impressive list of credits in such films as the 1989 hit Sea of Love,
opposite Ellen Barkin; Dick Tracy (1990), for which he earned yet another Best Actor Oscar
nomination; and Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), for which he received a nod for Best
Supporting Actor. He took home his first Best Actor Oscar for his performance as a blind,
retired Army officer in Scent of a Woman (1992). Among Pacino’s other memorable films are
the 1970s-era gangster drama Carlito’s Way (1993); the New York mafia drama Donnie
Brasco (1997); the Oscar-nominated The Insider (1999), with Russell Crowe; and director
Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday (1999), in which Pacino played a pro football coach. In
2008, Pacino teamed up with another Italian-American screen legend, Robert De Niro, to play
New York City police detectives in Righteous Kill.


Dec. 54: "The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Alfred Lord Tennyson is published

On this day, The Examiner prints Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem "The Charge of the Light
Brigade," which commemorates the courage of 600 British soldiers charging a heavily
defended position during the Battle of Balaklava, in the Crimea, just six weeks earlier.
Tennyson had been named poet laureate in 1850 by Queen Victoria.
    Tennyson was born into a chaotic and disrupted home. His father, the eldest son of a
wealthy landowner, was disinherited in favor of his younger brother. Forced to enter the
church to support himself, the Reverend Dr. George Tennyson became a bitter alcoholic.
However, he educated his sons in the classics, and Alfred Tennyson, the fourth of 12 children,
went to Trinity College at Cambridge in 1827. The same year, he and his brother Charles
published Poems by Two Brothers. At Cambridge, Tennyson befriended a circle of
intellectual undergraduates who strongly encouraged his poetry. Chief among them was
Arthur Hallam, who became Tennyson's closest friend and who later proposed to Tennyson's
    In 1830, Tennyson published Poems, Chiefly Lyrical. The following year, his father died,
and he was forced to leave Cambridge for financial reasons. Besieged by critical attacks and
struggling with poverty, Tennyson nevertheless remained dedicated to his work and published
several more volumes.
    The sudden death of Tennyson's dear friend Arthur Hallam in 1833 inspired several
important works throughout Tennyson's later life, including the masterful In Memoriam of
1842. Later that year, he published a volume called Poems, containing some of his best works.
The book boosted Tennyson's reputation, and in 1850 Queen Victoria named him poet
laureate. At long last, Tennyson achieved financial stability and finally married his fiancée,
Emily Sellwood, whom he had loved since 1836.
Tennyson's massive frame and booming voice, together with his taste for solitude, made him
an imposing character. He craved solitude and bought an isolated home where he could write
in peace. In 1859, he published the first four books of his epic Idylls of the King. Eight more
volumes would follow. He continued writing and publishing poems until his death in 1892.


Dec. 972: "I Am Woman" by Helen Reddy tops the U.S. pop charts

Nothing in her professional credentials suggested the Australian pop singer Helen Reddy as a
feminist icon prior to 1972. She'd made her way to the United States from her native Australia
on her own to pursue stardom, and she'd paid her dues working on the periphery of the music
business for a number of years before making a breakthrough. Yet when that breakthrough
came, it was in the form of a 1971 cover version of "I Don't Know How To Love Him" from
Jesus Christ Superstar—hardly a song about women's liberation. But a feminist icon is
exactly what Helen Reddy would become the very next year, when the anthem-to-be "I Am
Woman" charged up the pop charts, reaching the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 on this day
in 1972.
    With lyrics that could have been lifted straight from the pages of the recently launched
Ms. magazine, "I Am Woman" took the message of personal empowerment being espoused
by the second-wave feminists of the early 1970s and put it out where it could do some real
consciousness-raising—on the same AM airwaves that had been sending out very different
messages about gender relations for many years. For a generation of American women raised
on songs like "Johnny Angel," "It's My Party" and "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," "I Am
Woman" represented something almost entirely new in mainstream pop: A song about female
identity that made virtually no reference to men.
    Helen Reddy wrote the lyrics to "I Am Woman" out of frustration. "I was looking for
songs that reflected the positive sense of self that I felt I'd gained from the women's
movement," she told Billboard magazine, "[but] I couldn't find any." True to the message of
the hit song she would eventually write, "I realized that the song I was looking for didn't exist,
and I was going to have to write it myself."
    Released as a single in the spring of 1972, "I Am Woman" initially sputtered in its attempt
to gain a foothold on the pop charts. It had fallen completely off the charts by late that
summer, in fact, before re-entering the Hot 100 in September and beginning a steady climb
upward thanks to Reddy's frequent appearances on television that fall and to the volume of
call-in radio requests those appearances generated—mainly from women.
Helen Reddy would have two further #1 hits in the 1970s with "Delta Dawn" and "Angie
Baby," but "I Am Woman"—the only hit song that Reddy penned herself—remains her
signature achievement.


Dec. 967: Johnson discusses daughters

On this day in 1967, CBS broadcasts an interview with President Lyndon Johnson and his
wife, Lady Bird, in which they spoke candidly about their daughters. The same day, their
daughter Lynda Johnson was married at the White House.
     In the interview, recorded on December 8, Johnson, who was commonly thought of as a
bold, tough-talking swaggering Texan, revealed his softer side and his tender feelings toward
his wife and two daughters, Lynda and Luci. Calling his "three girls" the "great pluses" in his
life, Johnson admitted that the White House would feel emptier now that both daughters
would be married and gone. When asked if he had a "favorite" daughter, Johnson replied that
he had never known any parents who had a "favorite" and that he loved each child equally,
though he recognized their differences. While Lynda was ambitious, studious and intelligent,
Luci was creative, "very gay and not concerned with being Phi Beta Kappa or leading the
class or making the honor society," he said. He compared Luci to his mother who was "one of
my very special favorites...she was creative, literary and [appreciated] nature." Lynda, he said,
was more like his wife: conservative, prudent and business-oriented. "After all," he quipped,
"Mrs. Johnson is the only one in our family that has ever met a payroll, you know."
     When asked for his assessment of his future son-in-law, Charles "Chuck" Robb, Johnson
expressed admiration for the young man's deft handling of a press conference the week before
regarding his and Lynda's impending marriage and said that he liked him "very much."
Johnson was also asked how he felt about the fact that Robb, a Marine captain, would be
heading off to the war in Vietnam soon after the wedding. Johnson stated that he was grateful
and appreciative that any young man was willing to give his life to serve his country, but did
not elaborate. The reporter then changed the subject.
     On the morning of December 9, Johnson gave away his daughter in a private ceremony
held in the White House East Room. Chuck Robb served with distinction in the Vietnam War
and returned home safely in 1972. He went on to serve as governor of Virginia (1982-1986)
and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1989. In 2004, he chaired the Iraq Intelligence
Commission appointed by President George Bush to investigate intelligence failures leading
up to the war in Iraq. Lynda Johnson Robb is a contributing editor for Ladies Home Journal
and advocates for children's literacy programs.

Vietnam War

Dec. 65: Newspaper reports on bombing over North Vietnam

An article in the New York Times asserts that the U.S. bombing campaign has neither
destabilized North Vietnam's economy nor appreciably reduced the flow of its forces into
South Vietnam.
    These observations were strikingly similar to an earlier Defense Intelligence Agency
analysis, which concluded that "the idea that destroying, or threatening to destroy, North
Vietnam's industry would pressure Hanoi into calling it quits seems, in retrospect, a colossal
    The first air strikes against North Vietnam were flown in the fall of 1964, in retaliation for
two attacks on American warships in the Gulf of Tonkin (although the second reported attack
has never been verified). Additional strikes, carried out under the name Operation Flaming
Dart, were ordered in February 1965 in response to Viet Cong attacks on a U.S. Army
barracks at Pleiku and a nearby helicopter base, which resulted in the deaths of nine
Americans. When the Viet Cong attacked other U.S. facilities in South Vietnam, President
Johnson initiated Operation Rolling Thunder in March 1965, an intensified air campaign
against North Vietnam. He hoped that this campaign would relieve some of the pressure on
South Vietnam, where the situation was rapidly deteriorating. Unfortunately, the bombing
campaign did not have the desired results and Johnson had to commit U.S. ground troops to
stabilize the situation.
Dec. 971: Paris peace talks break down

For the first time since the Paris peace talks began in May 1968, both sides refuse to set
another meeting date for continuation of the negotiations.
The refusal to continue came during the 138th session of the peace talks. U.S. delegate
William Porter angered the communist negotiators by asking for a postponement of the next
scheduled session of the conference until December 30, to give Hanoi and the Viet Cong an
opportunity to develop a "more constructive approach" at the talks.
    The U.S. side was displeased with the North Vietnamese, who repeatedly demanded that
South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu resign as a prerequisite for any meaningful
discussions. Although both sides returned to the official talks in January 1972, the real
negotiations were being conducted between Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, the lead North
Vietnamese negotiator, in a private villa outside Paris. These secret talks did not result in a
peace agreement until January 1973, after the massive 1972 North Vietnamese Easter
Offensive had been blunted and Nixon had ordered the "Christmas bombing" of Hanoi and
Haiphong to convince North Vietnam to rejoin the peace negotiations.

World War II

Dec. 940: Brits launch offensive against Italians in North Africa

On this day, two British divisions, half of them composed of Indian troops, attack seven
Italian divisions in Egypt. Overwhelmed, the Italian position in Egypt collapsed.
     Italy had declared war on Great Britain in June. At that time, Italian General Rodolfo
Graziani had almost 10 times the number of men in Libya than the British forces in Egypt
under General Archibald Wavell, which were commissioned to protect the North African
approaches to the Suez Canal. A vast western desert stretched between the antagonists, who
sat for months without confrontation. In the meantime, Italian forces had passed into Egypt—
but Britain had also reinforced its own numbers. British cryptographers were also able to
break the Italian military code, enabling British commanders to anticipate Italian troop
movements, size, and points of vulnerability.
     British command decided to make a first strike. On December 7, armored car patrols
surreptitiously set out to determine gaps in the minefield the Italians had laid. On December 9,
Major General Richard Nugent O'Connor from Mersa Matruh in Egypt launched a westward
offensive. Thirty thousand Brits warred against 80,000 Italians—but the British brought with
them 275 tanks against the Italians' 120. As O'Connor cut through a gap in the chain of forts
the Italians had established, the British 7th Armored Division swept along the western coast to
cut off any hope of an Italian retreat. Within three days, 40,000 Italian prisoners were taken.
The end of the Italian occupation of North Africa had begun.

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