- 1872 – P. B. S. Pinchback took office as Governor of Louisiana, the first African American governor of a U.S. state.
- 1911 – A mine explosion near Briceville, Tennessee, killed 84 miners despite a well-organized rescue effort led by theUnited States Bureau of Mines.
- 1931 – The approval of the Spanish Constitution by theConstituent Cortes paved the way to the establishment of the Second Spanish Republic.
- 1940 – Second World War: British and Commonwealth forces openedOperation Compass, the first major Allied military operation of the Western Desert Campaign.
- 1969 – U.S. Secretary of State William P. Rogers (pictured) proposed his plan for a ceasefire in the War of Attrition; Egypt's and Jordan's acceptance of it over PLO objections led to civil war in Jordan in September 1970.
- 480 – Odoacer, first Germanic king of Italy, occupies Dalmatia and establishes his political power with the co-operation of the Roman Senate.
- 536 – Gothic War: The Byzantine general Belisarius enters Rome unopposed, the Gothic garrison flee the capital.
- 730 – Battle of Marj Ardabil: the Khazars annihilate an Umayyad army and kill its commander, al-Jarrah ibn Abdallah al-Hakami.
- 1425 – The Catholic University of Leuven is founded.
- 1531 – The Virgin of Guadalupe first appears to Juan Diego at Tepeyac, Mexico City.
- 1775 – American Revolutionary War: British troops lose the Battle of Great Bridge, and leave Virginia soon afterward.
- 1793 – New York City's first daily newspaper, the American Minerva, is established by Noah Webster.
- 1824 – Patriot forces led by General Antonio José de Sucre defeat a Royalist army in the Battle of Ayacucho, putting an end to the Peruvian War of Independence.
- 1835 – The Texian Army captures San Antonio, Texas.
- 1851 – The first YMCA in North America is established in Montreal, Quebec.
- 1856 – The Iranian city of Bushehr surrenders to occupying British forces.
- 1861 – American Civil War: The Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War is established by the U.S. Congress.
- 1872 – In Louisiana, P. B. S. Pinchback becomes the first serving African-American governor of a U.S. state.
- 1875 – The Massachusetts Rifle Association, "America's Oldest Active Gun Club", is founded.
- 1888 – Statistician Herman Hollerith installs his computing device at the United States War Department.
- 1897 – Activist Marguerite Durand founds the feminist daily newspaper, La Fronde, in Paris.
- 1905 – In France, the law separating church and state is passed.
- 1911 – A mine explosion near Briceville, Tennessee, kills 84 miners despite rescue efforts led by the United States Bureau of Mines.
- 1917 – World War I: In Palestine, Field Marshal Edmund Allenby captures Jerusalem.
- 1922 – Gabriel Narutowicz is announced the first president of Poland.
- 1931 – The Constituent Cortes approves the constitution which establishes the Second Spanish Republic.
- 1935 – Walter Liggett, American newspaper editor and muckraker, is killed in gangland murder.
- 1937 – Second Sino-Japanese War: Battle of Nanjing – Japanese troops under the command of Lt. Gen. Asaka Yasuhiko launch an assault on the Chinese city of Nanjing.
- 1940 – World War II: Operation Compass – British and Indian troops under the command of Major-General Richard O'Connor attack Italian forces near Sidi Barrani in Egypt.
- 1941 – World War II: The Republic of China, Cuba, Guatemala, the Republic of Korea, and the Philippine Commonwealth, declare war on Germany and Japan.
- 1941 – World War II: The 19th Bombardment Group attacks Japanese ships off the coast of Vigan, Luzon.
- 1946 – The "Subsequent Nuremberg Trials" begin with the "Doctors' Trial", prosecuting doctors alleged to be involved in human experimentation.
- 1946 – The Constituent Assembly of India meets for the first time to write the Constitution of India.
- 1950 – Harry Gold is sentenced to 30 years in jail for helping Klaus Fuchs pass information about the Manhattan Project to the Soviet Union. His testimony is later instrumental in the prosecution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
- 1953 – Red Scare: General Electric announces that all communist employees will be discharged from the company.
- 1956 – Trans-Canada Air Lines Flight 810, a Canadair North Star, crashes near Hope, British Columbia, Canada, killing all 62 people on board.
- 1958 – The John Birch Society is founded in the United States.
- 1960 – The first episode of the world's longest-running television soap opera Coronation Street is broadcast in the United Kingdom.
- 1961 – Tanganyika becomes independent from Britain.
- 1962 – The Petrified Forest National Park is established in Arizona.
- 1965 – The Kecksburg UFO incident: a fireball is seen from Michigan to Pennsylvania; witnesses report something crashing in the woods near Pittsburgh. In 2005 NASA admits that itexamined the object.
- 1966 – Barbados joins the United Nations.
- 1968 – NLS (a system for which hypertext and the computer mouse were developed) is publicly demonstrated for the first time in San Francisco.
- 1969 – United States Secretary of State William P. Rogers proposes his plan for a ceasefire in the War of Attrition; Egypt and Jordan accept it over the objections of the PLO, which leads to civil war in Jordan in September 1970.
- 1971 – The United Arab Emirates join the United Nations.
- 1971 – Indo-Pakistani War: The Indian Air Force executes an airdrop of Indian Army units, bypassing Pakistani defences.
- 1973 – British and Irish authorities sign the Sunningdale Agreement in an attempt to establish a power-sharing Northern Ireland Executive and a cross-border Council of Ireland.
- 1979 – The eradication of the smallpox virus is certified, making smallpox the first and to date only human disease driven to extinction.
- 1981 – Philadelphia Police Department officer Daniel Faulkner is killed during a routine traffic stop; Mumia Abu-Jamal is later convicted for it and he goes on to become "perhaps the world's best known death-row inmate" before his sentence is commuted to life without parole in December 2011.
- 1987 – Israeli-Palestinian conflict: The First Intifada begins in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
- 1988 – The Michael Hughes Bridge in Sligo, Ireland is officially opened.
- 2000 – The Supreme Court of the United States stays the sixth Florida recount.
- 2003 – A blast in the center of Moscow kills six people and wounds several more.
- 2008 – The Governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, is arrested by federal officials for a number of crimes including attempting to sell the United States Senate seat being vacated byPresident-elect Barack Obama's election to the Presidency.
- 1447 – Chenghua, Emperor of China (d. 1487)
- 1508 – Gemma Frisius, Dutch mathematician and cartographer (d. 1555)
- 1561 – Sir Edwin Sandys, English colonial settler (d. 1629)
- 1571 – Metius, Dutch mathematician and astronomer (d. 1635)
- 1579 – Martin de Porres, Peruvian saint (d. 1639)
- 1594 – Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden (d. 1632)
- 1608 – John Milton, English poet (d. 1674)
- 1610 – Baldassare Ferri, Italian castrato (d. 1680)
- 1652 – Augustus Quirinus Rivinus, German physician (d. 1723)
- 1667 – William Whiston, English mathematician (d. 1752)
- 1717 – Johann Joachim Winckelmann, German art historian (d. 1768)
- 1721 – Peter Pelham, English-born American musician and composer (d. 1805)
- 1728 – Pietro Alessandro Guglielmi, Italian composer (d. 1804)
- 1745 – Maddalena Laura Sirmen, Italian musician and composer (d. 1818)
- 1748 – Claude Louis Berthollet, French chemist (d. 1822)
- 1751 – Maria Luisa of Parma, Queen consort of Spain (d. 1819)
- 1787 – John Dobson, English architect (d. 1865)
- 1806 – Jean-Olivier Chénier, Canadian physician and patriote (d. 1838)
- 1813 – Thomas Andrews, Irish chemist (d. 1885)
- 1837 – Émile Waldteufel, French composer (d. 1915)
- 1842 – Peter Kropotkin, Russian anarchist (d. 1921)
- 1845 – Joel Chandler Harris, American writer (d. 1908)
- 1847 – George Grossmith, English actor and writer (d. 1912)
- 1850 – Emma Abbott, American singer (d. 1891)
- 1861 – Hélène Smith, French psychic (d. 1929)
- 1867 – Gregorios Xenopoulos, Greek writer (d. 1951)
- 1868 – Fritz Haber, German chemist, Nobel laureate (d. 1934)
- 1870 – Ida S. Scudder, Indian physician (d. 1960)
- 1871 – Joe Kelley, American baseball player (d. 1943)
- 1876 – Berton Churchill, American actor (d. 1940)
- 1876 – Pauline Whittier, American golfer (d. 1946)
- 1882 – Joaquín Turina, Spanish composer (d. 1949)
- 1883 – Nikolai Luzin, Russian mathematician (d. 1950)
- 1883 – Alexander Papagos, Prime Minister of Greece (d. 1955)
- 1886 – Clarence Birdseye, American businessman (d. 1956)
- 1887 – Tim Moore, American actor and comedian (d. 1958)
- 1889 – Hannes Kolehmainen, Finnish long-distance runner (d. 1966)
- 1891 – Maksim Bahdanovič, Belarusian poet (d. 1917)
- 1895 – Dolores Ibárruri, Spanish political leader (d. 1989)
- 1895 – Conchita Supervía, Spanish opera singer (d. 1936)
- 1897 – Hermione Gingold, English actress (d. 1987)
- 1898 – Emmett Kelly, American circus clown (d. 1979)
- 1899 – Jean de Brunhoff, French author (d. 1937)
- 1900 – Albert Weisbord, American labor organizer (d. 1977)
- 1901 – Carol Dempster, American actress (d. 1991)
- 1901 – Ödön von Horváth, Hungarian-born writer (d. 1938)
- 1901 – Jean Mermoz, French pilot (d. 1936)
- 1902 – Margaret Hamilton, American actress (d. 1985)
- 1904 – Robert Livingston, American actor (d. 1988)
- 1905 – Dalton Trumbo, American writer (d. 1976)
- 1906 – Grace Hopper, American computer scientist (d. 1992)
- 1909 – Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., American actor (d. 2000)
- 1911 – Broderick Crawford, American actor (d. 1986)
- 1911 – Lee J. Cobb, American actor (d. 1976)
- 1911 – Ryūzō Sejima, Japanese educator (d. 2007)
- 1912 – Tip O'Neill, American politician (d. 1994)
- 1914 – Max Manus, Norwegian resistance fighter (d. 1996)
- 1914 – Frances Reid, American actress (d. 2010)
- 1915 – Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, German-born soprano (d. 2006)
- 1916 – Kirk Douglas, American actor
- 1916 – Jerome Beatty Jr., American author (d. 2002)
- 1917 – James Angleton, American CIA official (d. 1987)
- 1917 – James Rainwater, American physicist, Nobel laureate (d. 1986)
- 1918 – Joyce Redman, Irish actress (d. 2012)
- 1919 – William Lipscomb, American chemist, Nobel laureate (d. 2011)
- 1920 – Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, President of the Italian Republic
- 1922 – Redd Foxx, American comedian (d. 1991)
- 1925 – Dina Merrill, American actress
- 1926 – Henry Way Kendall, American physicist, Nobel laureate (d. 1999)
- 1926 – Jan Křesadlo, Czech writer (d. 1995)
- 1927 – Pierre Henry, French composer
- 1928 – André Milhoux, Belgian racing driver
- 1928 – Dick Van Patten, American actor
- 1929 – John Cassavetes, American actor and director (d. 1989)
- 1929 – Bob Hawke, Prime Minister of Australia
- 1930 – Buck Henry, American actor
- 1931 – William Reynolds, American actor
- 1931 – Ladislav Smoljak, Czech actor
- 1932 – Edd Wheeler, American singer-songwriter
- 1933 – Ashleigh Brilliant, American writer
- 1933 – Morton Downey Jr., American singer, songwriter and later a television talk show host (d. 2001)
- 1933 – Monique Miller, Canadian actress
- 1933 – Orville Moody, American golfer (d. 2008)
- 1934 – Dame Judi Dench, English actress
- 1934 – Junior Wells, American musician (d. 1998)
- 1936 – Ben Pon, Jr., Dutch vintner and athlete
- 1937 – Darwin Joston, American actor (d. 1998)
- 1938 – David Houston, American singer (d. 1993)
- 1938 – Deacon Jones, American football player
- 1940 – Clancy Eccles, Jamaican musician (d. 2005)
- 1941 – Beau Bridges, American actor
- 1941 – Dan Hicks, American musician
- 1942 – Billy Bremner, Scottish footballer (d. 1997)
- 1942 – Dick Butkus, American football player
- 1943 – Pit Martin, Canadian ice hockey player (d. 2008)
- 1943 – Joanna Trollope, British writer
- 1944 – Neil Innes, English singer and songwriter (Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, The Rutles)
- 1944 – Tadashi Irie, Japanese crime boss
- 1944 – Ki Longfellow, American novelist
- 1944 – Bob O'Connor, American politician (d. 2006)
- 1945 – Matti Mäntylä, Finnish actor
- 1945 – Michael Nouri, American actor
- 1946 – Sonia Gandhi, Italian-born Indian politician
- 1946 – Shatrughan Sinha, Indian actor
- 1947 – Tom Daschle, American politician
- 1947 – Jaak Jõerüüt, Soviet-born Estonian politician
- 1948 – Dennis Dunaway, American musician (Alice Cooper)
- 1948 – Marleen Gorris, Dutch film director
- 1949 – Tom Kite, American golfer
- 1949 – Nando Parrado, Uruguayan plane crash survivor
- 1950 – Joan Armatrading, St. Kitts-born English singer-songwriter
- 1952 – Liaqat Baloch, Pakistani politician
- 1952 – Michael Dorn, American actor
- 1953 – World B. Free, American basketball player
- 1953 – John Malkovich, American actor
- 1953 – Cornelis de Bondt, Dutch composer
- 1954 – Henk ten Cate, Dutch football player and manager
- 1954 – Herman Finkers, Dutch comedian
- 1954 – Phil Bryant, American politician
- 1955 – Otis Birdsong, American basketball player
- 1955 – Chamras Saewataporn, Thai composer and musician
- 1956 – Jean-Pierre Thiollet, French author
- 1957 – Donny Osmond, American singer and actor
- 1957 – Peter O’Mara, Australian jazz guitarist and composer
- 1957 – Steve Taylor, American singer, songwriter and record producer.
- 1958 – Rikk Agnew, American guitarist (The Adolescents)
- 1958 – Nick Seymour, Australian bassist (Crowded House)
- 1959 – John Martin Scripps, English murderer (d. 1996)
- 1960 – Terry Moran, American TV reporter
- 1960 – Stefen Fangmeier, American director
- 1960 – Dobroslav Paraga, Croatian politician and editor
- 1960 – Juan Samuel, Dominican baseball player
- 1961 – David Anthony Higgins, American actor
- 1961 – Joe Lando, American actor
- 1962 – Felicity Huffman, American actress
- 1963 – Dave Hilton, Jr., Canadian boxer
- 1963 – Masako, Crown Princess of Japan
- 1964 – Hape Kerkeling, German actor, TV presenter and comedian
- 1964 – Johannes B. Kerner, German TV presenter
- 1964 – Paul Landers, German guitarist (Rammstein)
- 1965 – Joe Ausanio, American baseball player
- 1965 – Vecepia Towery, American reality TV contestant
- 1966 – Michael Foster, American drummer (FireHouse)
- 1966 – Kirsten Gillibrand, American politician
- 1966 – Montserrat Gil Torné, Andorran politician
- 1966 – Dave Harold, English snooker player
- 1966 – Toby Huss, American actor
- 1966 – Dana Murzyn, Canadian hockey player
- 1966 – Spencer Rochfort, Canadian-American actor
- 1966 – Julio Alberto Rodas Hurtarte, Guatemalan footballer
- 1966 – Mateo Romero, Native-American painter
- 1966 – Gideon Sa'ar, Israeli politician
- 1966 – Kadyrbek Sarbayev, Kyrgyzstan foreign envoy
- 1966 – Shane Scott, American producer and director
- 1966 – Martin Taylor, English football coach
- 1966 – Natee Thongsookkaew, Thailand footballer
- 1967 – Jason Dozzell, English footballer
- 1967 – Joshua Bell, American violinist
- 1967 – Gheorghe Popescu, Romanian footballer
- 1968 – Kurt Angle, American wrestler
- 1968 – Brian Bell, American guitarist (Weezer)
- 1968 – Brent Price, American basketball player
- 1969 – Jakob Dylan, American singer (The Wallflowers)
- 1969 – Bixente Lizarazu, French footballer
- 1969 – Allison Smith, American actress
- 1969 – Sebastian Spence, Canadian actor
- 1970 – Kara DioGuardi, American songwriter, record producer and singer
- 1970 – Lance Krall, American comedian
- 1971 – Petr Nedvěd, Czech ice hockey player
- 1971 – Geoff Barrow, English musician (Portishead)
- 1972 – Reiko Aylesworth, American actress
- 1972 – Tre Cool, German-American drummer (Green Day)
- 1972 – Backhouse Mike, American composer and producer
- 1972 – Fabrice Santoro, Tahitian-French tennis player
- 1973 – Fabio Artico, Italian footballer
- 1973 – Bárbara Padilla, Mexican-American soprano
- 1974 – Aloísio da Silva Filho, Brazilian footballer
- 1974 – Canibus, American rapper
- 1974 – Wendy Dillinger, American footballer and coach
- 1974 – Rahat Fateh Ali Khan,Pakistani singer
- 1976 – Chris Booker, American baseball player
- 1977 – Saskia Garel, Canadian actress
- 1977 – Shayne Graham, American football player
- 1977 – Imogen Heap, English singer-songwriter
- 1978 – Gaston Gaudio, Argentine tennis player
- 1978 – Jesse Metcalfe, American actor
- 1979 – Chen Hao, Chinese actress
- 1979 – Olivia Lufkin, Japanese singer
- 1979 – Stephen McPhail, Irish footballer
- 1980 – Ryder Hesjedal, Canadian cyclist
- 1980 – Simon Helberg, American actor
- 1981 – Mardy Fish, American tennis player
- 1981 – Dia Mirza, Indian actress
- 1982 – Tamilla Abassova, Russian cyclist
- 1982 – Nathalie De Vos, Belgian athlete
- 1982 – Ryan Grant, American football player
- 1982 – Bastian Swillims, German sprinter
- 1983 – Jermaine Beckford, English footballer
- 1983 – Dariusz Dudka, Polish footballer
- 1984 – Leon Hall, American football player
- 1985 – Wil Besseling, Dutch golfer
- 1987 – Kostas Giannoulis, Greek footballer
- 1987 – Mat Latos, American baseball player
- 1988 – Kwadwo Asamoah, Ghanaian footballer
- 1989 – Lindsey Evans, American model
- 1990 – LaFee, German singer
- 1991 – Prince Joachim of Belgium, Archduke of Austria-Este
- 1991 – Choi Minho South Korean rap artist (Shinee)
- 1993 – Laura Smulders, Dutch racing cyclist
- 1995 – McKayla Maroney, American Gymnast
- 2001 – Ronnie Paris, American child abuse victim (d. 2005)
- 730 – al-Jarrah ibn Abdallah, Governor of Armenia
- 748 – Nasr ibn Sayyar, Governor of Khurasan (b. 663)
- 1165 – King Malcolm IV of Scotland (b. 1141)
- 1437 – Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor (b. 1368)
- 1544 – Teofilo Folengo, Italian poet (b. 1491)
- 1565 – Pope Pius IV (b. 1499)
- 1603 – William Watson, English conspirator (b. 1559)
- 1625 – Ubbo Emmius, Dutch historian and geographer (b. 1547)
- 1636 – Fabian Birkowski, Polish writer (b. 1566)
- 1641 – Anthony van Dyck, Belgian painter (b. 1599)
- 1669 – Pope Clement IX (b. 1600)
- 1674 – Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, English statesman (b. 1609)
- 1706 – King Peter II of Portugal (b. 1648)
- 1718 – Vincenzo Coronelli, Italian cartographer and encyclopaedist (b. 1650)
- 1793 – Gabrielle de Polastron, French aristocrat (b. 1749)
- 1798 – Johann Reinhold Forster, German botanist (b. 1729)
- 1830 – Heinrich Christian Friedrich Schumacher, Danish surgeon (b. 1757)
- 1854 – Almeida Garrett, Portuguese writer (b. 1799)
- 1858 – Robert Baldwin, Canadian politician (b. 1804)
- 1887 – Mahmadu Lamine, Senegalese marabout and military leader
- 1906 – Ferdinand Brunetière, French writer and critic (b. 1849)
- 1916 – Natsume Sōseki, Japanese novelist (b. 1867)
- 1924 – Bernard Zweers, Dutch composer and music teacher (b. 1854)
- 1930 – Rube Foster, American baseball player (b. 1879)
- 1932 – Rokeya Sakhawat Hussain, Bangladeshi writer and social worker (b. 1880)
- 1935 – Walter Liggett, American editor (b. 1886)
- 1937 – Nils Gustaf Dalén, Swedish physicist, Nobel laureate (b. 1869)
- 1941 – Dmitry Merezhkovsky, Russian writer and philosopher (b. 1865)
- 1943 – Georges Dufrénoy, French painter (b. 1870)
- 1952 – Abe Manley, American baseball team owner (b. 1885)
- 1955 – Hermann Weyl, German mathematician (b. 1885)
- 1963 – Daniel O. Fagunwa, Nigerian novelist (b. 1903)
- 1964 – Dame Edith Sitwell, English poet and critic (b. 1887)
- 1965 – Branch Rickey, American baseball executive (b. 1884)
- 1967 – Charles Léon Hammes, Luxembourgian lawyer (b. 1898)
- 1970 – Artem Mikoyan, Soviet aircraft designer (b. 1905)
- 1970 – Sir Feroz Khan Noon, Pakistani politician (b. 1893)
- 1971 – Ralph Bunche, American diplomat, Nobel laureate (b. 1904)
- 1971 – Sergey Konenkov, Russian sculptor (b. 1874)
- 1972 – Louella Parsons, American gossip columnist (b. 1881)
- 1975 – William A. Wellman, American movie director (b. 1896)
- 1979 – Fulton J. Sheen, American archbishop and televangelist (b. 1895)
- 1981 – Daniel Faulkner, American police officer (b. 1955)
- 1982 – Leon Jaworski, American prosecutor (b. 1905)
- 1984 – Razzle, English drummer (Hanoi Rocks) (b. 1960)
- 1992 – Vincent Gardenia, American actor (b. 1922)
- 1993 – Danny Blanchflower, Northern Irish footballer and manager (b. 1926)
- 1994 – Garnett Silk, Jamaican singer (b. 1966)
- 1995 – Toni Cade Bambara, American author (b. 1939)
- 1995 – Douglas Corrigan, American aviator (b. 1907)
- 1996 – Patty Donahue, American singer (The Waitresses) (b. 1956)
- 1996 – Mary Leakey, English archaeologist and anthropologist (b. 1913)
- 1996 – Alain Poher, French politician (b. 1909)
- 1996 – Diana Morgan, British playwright and screenwriter (b. 1908)
- 1998 – Shaughnessy Cohen, Canadian politician (b. 1948)
- 1998 – Archie Moore, American boxer (b. 1913)
- 2001 – Michael Carver, English soldier (b. 1915)
- 2002 – Mary Hansen, Australian guitarist and singer (Stereolab) (b. 1966)
- 2002 – Ian Hornak, American painter and sculptor (b. 1944)
- 2002 – Stan Rice, American painter and poet (b. 1942)
- 2003 – Paul Simon, American politician (b. 1928)
- 2003 – Norm Sloan, American basketball coach (b. 1926)
- 2004 – David Brudnoy, American radio personality (b. 1940)
- 2004 – Lea De Mae, Czech actress (b. 1976)
- 2005 – György Sándor, Hungarian pianist (b. 1912)
- 2005 – Robert Sheckley, American author (b. 1928)
- 2007 – Thore Skogman, Swedish entertainer (b. 1931)
- 2007 – Gordon Zahn, American sociologist and pacifist (b. 1918)
- 2008 – Ibrahim Dossey, Ghanaian footballer (b. 1972)
- 2008 – Yuri Glazkov, Soviet cosmonaut (b. 1939)
- 2009 – Gene Barry, American actor (b. 1919)
- 2010 – Dov Shilansky, Israeli politician (b. 1924)
- 2010 – James Moody, American musician (b. 1925)
- 2010 – John du Pont, American scion and criminal (b. 1938)
Holidays and observances
- Anna's Day, marks the day to start the preparation process of the lutefisk to be consumed on Christmas Eve, as well as a Swedish name day, celebrating all people named Anna. (Sweden and Finland)
- Christian Feast Day:
- Independence Day, celebrate the independence of Tanganyika from Britain in 1961. (Tanzania)
- International Anti-Corruption Day (International)
- National Heroes Day, formerly V.C. Bird Day. (Antigua and Barbuda)
- Yuri's Day in the Autumn (Russian Orthodox Church)
IT was with a heavy heart I woke to the news that London nurse Jacintha Saldanha had died in a suspected suicide.
The 46-year-old mother-of-two was the on the end of a childish and seemingly harmless radio prank that astonished everyone.
Her only sin was to believe Australian radio duo Mel Greig and Michael Christian, who made a hoax call pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles.
I feel for Ms Saldanha's family.
There are so many questions and what-ifs when it comes to suicide.
But I also feel for the two radio hosts.
No one sets out in search of such an outcome.
Yet in the face of such a tragedy, the blame game begins.
I'm not going to sit in judgment, nor do I want to sound like an apologist.
But I will say that suicide leaves everyone gutted and searching for answers.
There is no way such a silly prank should lead to such a tragic outcome, but the radio duo will blame themselves - and there will be plenty of haters ready to fan such thoughts.
As a human being, I feel for the pair because I have been there.
Fifteen years ago I did a story for A Current Affair on a television repair man who was overcharging for work not done.
It goes down as one of the most despicable pieces of journalism in Australia because of its outcome.
It was the weekend promotion for A Current Affair and it ran on the Monday of that week.
This man committed suicide several days later.
I can't begin to fathom the pain his family has been through, although I have met with them and cried with them, I will forever blame myself for walking in the newsroom that day and being assigned that story and not seeing the disaster that was coming.
Those consumer protection stories were daily fodder for nightly television current affairs, and still are.
The shame and humiliation this man obviously felt was quickly my shame and humiliation as well.
The then-host of Media Watch, Stuart Littlemore, called me an "unspeakable bastard" and, of course, I agreed with Littlemore.
In fact, I agreed with every aspect of the criticism.
There was no justification for the outcome, but the event tore my life apart too.
I can write now that for years I did not sleep, I woke with nightmares, I stifled panic attacks in media conferences when all my colleagues were there, perhaps casting a judgmental eye. I threw myself in the most dangerous pursuits in journalism: coups, wars; you name it, to regain some of the credibility I had lost.
A few years later, I finally sought help for the post-traumatic stress disorder I had developed.
I simply couldn't breathe.
In the boiler room that was A Current Affair back then, I couldn't even tell the boss, or seek support, because exposing a soft underbelly in that joint would have done nothing but invite derision for such a "weakness".
Later, when my first born son died at the age of eight months from complication of his premature birth, I blamed myself.
Surely, I thought, on some karmic level, this child was taken from me as a result of my part in that story.
It is not rational of course, but it is how your heart feels in the face of such incomprehensible loss.
We all search for answers.
We like to attribute blame.
I tell this story because, apart from psychopaths, no one ever intends to cause such harm to a person.
Certainly Mel and Michael had no pre-meditation.
They did not intend for anyone to die as a result of their prank.
It is cruel to blame them.
But the media, in all their forms, can and do exacerbate things.
Retired Supreme Court judge Justice Yeldham committed suicide in 1996 after being exposed in the media for suspected homosexual activity.
Senator Nick Sherry attempted suicide the following year after being mocked in parliament.
And NSW politician John Brogden self-harmed in 2005 after reports of inappropriate behaviour.
Brogden, now a patron of Lifeline, says now that it was a cry for help.
In 2003, in an interview with Andrew Denton on the ABC, financier Rene Rivkin spoke of his depression and thoughts of suicide.
"The ending of one's life, which I've thought about a lot, incidentally, because prior to Prozac, I was often depressed ... requires a certain amount of bravery which I don't have. I'm not a hero," Rivkin said.
Two years later, Rivkin took his own life.
The point is that these things never happen in isolation. There is almost always a depressive illness, diagnosed or not, simmering in the background.
Only in hindsight do the pieces fit together.
That is the true tragedy.
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.
Idiot misses the point. The DJ's may not be criminally liable, they had a depraved indifference. There should have been follow up for the prank but there wasn't. They went cheap. Now there is a price to be paid. Only maybe it shouldn't be t
hese two who have a depraved indifference, that should pay consequences .. maybe it is the broadcaster which has a history of tasteless comedy and demonstrates a depraved indifference to those it exploits. - ed
Larry Pickering says ..
So much for the symbolism and guilt mongering. Twenty years after Paul Keating’s absurd and ahistorical Redfern speech, what truly has changed?
The place was Redfern Park in inner Sydney, stomping ground for Anon, one of the brightest and most inquisitive students at Redfern Public School.
A voracious reader and highly articulate, Anon had been chosen as the school’s representative as hundreds gathered to mark the launch of the International Year for the World’s Indigenous People on December 10, 1992.When this photograph was taken, Keating was in the afterglow of what would come to be regarded internationally as a political speech of enormous significance, the first time a prime minister had acknowledged the murder and mass dispossession of generations of Aborigines.Moments earlier, Keating had ended his speech promising to ensure Aboriginal people would no longer be denied their place in the modern Australian nation. “We cannot imagine we will fail,” the prime minister said.Twenty years on, ever greater numbers of Aborigines find their place in modern Australia is a jail cell. The boy whose photo became a symbol of the promise of an era of reconciliation that was then barely a year old, is one of them.
His mother, Chantay Link, who makes regular visits to her son’s Bathurst jail, 200km west of Sydney, spoke to The Weekend Australian this week as Anon’s four-month-old son, also Anon, slept in a pram under her careful watch.
The real challenge remains - and the solution lies less in changing what whites do about Aborigines, but in what Aborigines do for themselves. The problem is not history or racism but culture.
Take Anon’s son. He’s now been “stolen” from his parents ... but who is most responsible for that?
German veteran meteorologist Klaus-Eckart Puls here has done an analysis of sea level rise. Contrary to claims made by fringe alarmist physicists, we see that sea level rise has decelerated markedly since 2003.
In his report, Puls writes that even TOPEX and JASON 1+2 show no acceleration. “The acceleration calculated by the models and constantly reported by the media does not exist!”Puls adds:
It is obvious to see that sea level rise has slowed down significantly. In view of the relatively short time frame in which the measurements have been made, it should not be speculated on whether the deceleration in the rise is a trend change or if it is only noise. What is certain is that there is neither a ‘dramatic’ rise, nor an ‘acceleration’. Conclusion: Climate models that project an acceleration over the last 20 years are wrong.”
(Thanks to reader fulchrum.)
Julia Gillard explained last year why we needed her carbon tax:
Almost 200 nations extended a weakened United Nations plan for combating global warming until 2020 on Saturday with a modest set of measures that would do nothing to halt rising world greenhouse gas emissions…
Environment ministers extended until 2020 the Kyoto Protocol, which obliges about 35 industrialised nations to cut their greenhouse gas emissions until the end of 2012....
But the 1997 treaty, 23 days away from expiry, has been sapped by the withdrawal of Russia, Japan and Canada and its remaining backers, led by the European Union and Australia, now account for just 15 per cent of world greenhouse gas emissions.
Now that it’s clear we’re in front of the pack, and not behind, what other excuse does Gillard have for her tax?
Jeff Thomson is right, of course. The longer this goes on, the more damage it does to Warne’s image, if not bank account:
AS SHANE WARNE vows to make amends, former Australian paceman Jeff Thomson says Big Bash League officials have made a mistake in flogging an ‘’old horse’’....
Warne, 43, was terrible in the Melbourne Stars’ opening BBL clash on Friday night, an eight-wicket loss to cross-town rivals the Renegades, having 41 runs belted off his only two overs, the worst economy rate recorded in Australian domestic Twenty20.The Stars captain also dropped South African Faf du Plessis while fielding at mid-wicket on a night batting brute Aaron Finch led his Renegades with an unbeaten 111 off only 65 balls. Warne, as was the case last season, has been used as a major marketing tool, for which he is well reimbursed…Having watched Warne thumped for four sixes, Thomson said it was time for BBL officials to rejig their promotional plans.‘’I get sick of this every year - all they talk about is ‘Warney’ or ‘Murali’ or someone else,’’ he said. ‘’The Big Bash League, if that’s all they have got to promote, they are promoting the wrong people. I am being serious. How long do you flog an old horse?
‘’You have a bloke like Finch batting out there, Dave Hussey got a 50 [he made 42 off 31 balls] - what’s up with that? I am not jealous. Don’t get me wrong. You blokes [media] write about [Warne] all the time and that’s all he wants to hear. There are other people around.’
Cadel Evans now wants to claim hero status for climate worriers - you know, credit for being so brave against overwhelming odds.
It was the biggest moment of Cadel Evans’s sporting life - his extraordinary triumph at the 2011 Tour de France. And yet he wanted to get Cate Blanchett a message.
The actor had been wrapped up in a political storm after appearing in advertising backing the carbon tax. Some media had dubbed her ‘’Carbon Cate’’.
Evans followed the debate, and at the end of last year’s Tour declared to the press: ‘’Let’s just say I like Cate Blanchett a lot.’’
Speaking to Fairfax Media this week, Evans said Blanchett’s decision to lend her voice to an important, yet unpopular, issue had been courageous.
Excuse me, but just five years ago the real courage lay in standing against the global warming hysteria:
THE boys from the ABC’s Chaser show a map of Australia in their new show at the Athenaeum with a pink dot to indicate the whereabouts of our very last global warming sceptic.Actually, there’s just a single pink dot in that entire expanse, and it’s plonked right over Melbourne. Over this tower with Herald Sun on top, in fact.
To be absolutely specific, it’s over this very chair in which I’m now sitting, typing furiously with a mad cackle and hair all wild.
All right, I have tickets on myself. But the polls back then confirmed a vast majority of Australians would do anything - even pay higher prices - to “stop” global warming:
When informed that greenhouse gas abatement would cause the price of goods and services to increase, 68 per cent said they were prepared to pay morewhile 24 per cent were opposed.
Being a warming alarmist then took as much courage as being a supporter of fluffy kittens, and was handsomely rewarded:
Sydney Theatre Company Artistic Directors Andrew Upton and Cate Blanchett officially ‘switched on’ the massive solar array on the roof-top of the Company’s home-base, The Wharf, on November 26. ... The $5.2m total cost of Greening The Wharf is funded by a unique private and public partnership involving philanthropy, corporate support and Federal and State government funding.
Even when Blanchett’s ads appeared, early last year, the people most vilified for their beliefs were actually sceptics, who in the opinion of some columnists couldn’t be punished enough:
I’m prepared to keep an open mind and propose another stunt for climate sceptics - put your strong views to the test by exposing yourselves to high concentrations of either carbon dioxide or some other colourless, odourless gas - say, carbon monoxide.
You wouldn’t see or smell anything. Nor would your anti-science nonsense be heard of again. How very refreshing.
Even as Blanchett prepared to film her ads, she’d have thought there was nothing brave in what she was doing, give the media was cheering and polls still suggested support even for the carbon tax:
A new poll undertaken by Galaxy Research and released by the Greens found that the majority of Australians support “taxing the big polluters” rather than to “pay money to polluters to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.”
The question was framed to compare the Government’s proposed carbon price with the opposition parties “direct action” policy that would subsidise polluters to reduce carbon emissions.
The telephone poll of 1,036 people across Australia, conducted for the Australian Greens on 18-20 March as part of a Galaxy Omnibus found that 58% believe it better to tax the big polluters, and just 17% consider it more effective to pay incentives to the big polluters as a way of encouraging them to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
So you may support what Blanchett did, and admire her cause. You may regret her ads not working, and forgive their deeply deceptive message as exaggeration in a good cause. You may even be cross that, if anything, the ads backfired.
But don’t pretend it took courage to parrot what the government, the media class, the funding agencies and, for a long while, the public were all saying, too.
There’s nothing brave in the sound of baa.