Dec 01 2010

On This Day in History: December 1

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

December 1 is the 335th day of the year (336th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 30 days remaining until the end of the year


On this day in 1990, the Chunnel makes breakthrough. Shortly after 11 a.m. on December 1, 1990, 132 feet below the English Channel, workers drill an opening the size of a car through a wall of rock. This was no ordinary hole–it connected the two ends of an underwater tunnel linking Great Britain with the European mainland for the first time in more than 8,000 years.

The Channel Tunnel, or “Chunnel,” was not a new idea. It had been suggested to Napoleon Bonaparte, in fact, as early as 1802. It wasn’t until the late 20th century, though, that the necessary technology was developed. In 1986, Britain and France signed a treaty authorizing the construction of a tunnel running between Folkestone, England, and Calais, France.

The Channel Tunnel (French: Le tunnel sous la Manche), (also informally known as the Chunnel) is a 50.5-kilometre (31.4 mi) undersea rail tunnel linking Folkestone, Kent near Dover in the United Kingdom with Coquelles, Pas-de-Calais near Calais in northern France beneath the English Channel at the Strait of Dover. At its lowest point, it is 75 metres (250 ft) deep. At 37.9 kilometres (23.5 mi), the Channel Tunnel possesses the second longest undersea portion of any tunnel in the world. The Seikan Tunnel in Japan is both longer overall at 53.85 kilometres (33.46 mi), and deeper at 240 metres (790 ft) below sea level.

The tunnel carries high-speed Eurostar passenger trains, Eurotunnel Shuttle roll-on/roll-off vehicle transport-the largest in the world-and international rail freight trains. The tunnel connects end-to-end with the LGV Nord and High Speed 1 high-speed railway lines. In 1996 the American Society of Civil Engineers identified the tunnel as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

Ideas for a cross-Channel fixed link appeared as early as 1802, but British political and press pressure over compromised national security stalled attempts to construct a tunnel. However, the eventual successful project, organised by Eurotunnel, began construction in 1988 and opened in 1994. The project came in 80% over its predicted budget. Since its construction, the tunnel has faced several problems. Fires have disrupted operation of the tunnel. Illegal immigrants and asylum seekers have attempted to use the tunnel to enter Britain, causing a minor diplomatic disagreement over the siting of the Sangatte refugee camp, which was eventually closed in 2002.

 800 – Charlemagne judges the accusations against Pope Leo III in the Vatican.

1420 – Henry V of England enters Paris.

1821 – The first constitution of Costa Rica is issued.

1822 – Peter I is crowned Emperor of Brazil.

1824 – U.S. presidential election, 1824: Since no candidate had received a majority of the total electoral college votes in the election, the United States House of Representatives is given the task of deciding the winner in accordance with the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

1826 – French philhellene Charles Nicolas Fabvier forces his way through the Turkish cordon and ascends the Acropolis of Athens, which had been under siege.

1834 – Slavery is abolished in the Cape Colony in accordance with the Slavery Abolition Act 1833.

1864 – In his State of the Union Address President Abraham Lincoln reaffirms the necessity of ending slavery as ordered ten weeks earlier in the Emancipation Proclamation.

1913 – Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Buenos Aires Subway starts operating, it`s the first underground railway system in the southern hemisphere and in Latin America

1913 – The Ford Motor Company introduces the first moving assembly line.

1913 – Crete, having obtained self rule from Turkey after the First Balkan War, is annexed by Greece.

1918 – Transylvania unites with Romania, following the incorporation of Bessarabia (March 27) and Bukovina (November 28).

1918 – Iceland becomes a sovereign state, yet remains a part of the Danish kingdom.

1918 – The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later known as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) is proclaimed.

1919 – Lady Astor becomes the first female Member of Parliament to take her seat in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom (she had been elected to that position on November 28).

1925 – World War I aftermath: The final Locarno Treaty is signed in London, establishing post-war territorial settlements.

1934 – In the Soviet Union, Politburo member Sergei Kirov is shot dead by Leonid Nikolayev at the Communist Party headquarters in Leningrad.

1941 – World War II: Fiorello La Guardia, Mayor of New York City and Director of the Office of Civilian Defense, signs Administrative Order 9, creating the Civil Air Patrol.

1952 – The New York Daily News reports the news of Christine Jorgenson, the first notable case of sexual reassignment surgery.

1955 – American Civil Rights Movement: In Montgomery, Alabama, seamstress Rosa Parks refuses to give up her bus seat to a white man and is arrested for violating the city’s racial segregation laws, an incident which leads to the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

1958 – The Central African Republic becomes independent from France.

1958 – The Our Lady of the Angels School Fire in Chicago, Illinois, kills 92 children and three nuns.

1959 – Cold War: Opening date for signature of the Antarctic Treaty, which sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve and bans military activity on the continent.

1960 – Paul McCartney and Pete Best are arrested then deported from Hamburg, Germany, after accusations of attempted arson.

1961 – The independent Republic of West Papua is proclaimed in modern-day Western New Guinea.

1963 – Nagaland becomes the 16th state of India.

1964 – Vietnam War: U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson and his top-ranking advisers meet to discuss plans to bomb North Vietnam.

1964 – Malawi, Malta and Zambia join the United Nations.

1965 – The Border Security Force is formed in India as a special force to guard the borders.

1969 – Vietnam War: The first draft lottery in the United States is held since World War II.

1971 – Cambodian Civil War: Khmer Rouge rebels intensify assaults on Cambodian government positions, forcing their retreat from Kompong Thmar and nearby Ba Ray.

1971 – The Indian Army recaptures part of Kashmir occupied forcibly by Pakistan.

1973 – Papua New Guinea gains self government from Australia.

1976 – Angola joins the United Nations.

1981 – The AIDS virus is officially recognized.

1982 – At the University of Utah, Barney Clark becomes the first person to receive a permanent artificial heart.

1988 – Benazir Bhutto is appointed Prime Minister of Pakistan.

1989 – 1989 Philippine coup attempt: The right-wing military rebel Reform the Armed Forces Movement attempts to oust Philippine President Corazon Aquino in a failed bloody coup d’etat.

1989 – Cold War: East Germany’s parliament abolishes the constitutional provision granting the communist party the leading role in the state.

1990 – Channel Tunnel sections started from the United Kingdom and France meet 40 metres beneath the seabed.

1991 – Cold War: Ukrainian voters overwhelmingly approve a referendum for independence from the Soviet Union.

2001 – Captain Bill Compton brings Trans World Airlines Flight 220, an MD-83, into St. Louis International Airport bringing to an end 76 years of TWA operations following TWA’s purchase by American Airlines.

Holidays and observances

   * Christian Feast day:

         o Castritian

         o Eligius

         o Nicholas Ferrar (Episcopal Church (United States))

   * Damrong Rajanubhab Day (Thailand)

   * Military Abolition Day (Costa Rica)

   * National Day (Myanmar)

   * National Transit Tribute to Rosa Parks Day (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Public_Transportation_Association American Public Transportation Association])

   * of Independence or Restauracao da Independencia (Portugal)

   * Union Day (Romania)

   * World AIDS Day (International)