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5 Facts You Didn't Know About The Iranian Hostage Crisis_2

On November 4th, 1979, militant students supporting Iran's Islamic Revolution stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took scores of hostages.  Ultimately, 52 Americans were held for 444 days. Here are five facts you probably didn't know about the Iranian hostage crisis...

The U.S. Embassy Warned Washington The Embassy Would Be Attacked

In 1979, the Ayatollah Khomeini installed an anti-Western Islamic theocracy, which replaced the pro-Western monarchy of the Shah of Iran. The Shah fled Iran and traveled to Egypt, Morocco, The Bahamas, and then Mexico. While in Mexico, doctors discovered he had an aggressive cancer, and recommended he go to the United States for treatment. This outraged Iran, who believed this was a CIA plot to return the Shah back in power. The U.S. Embassy in Iran warned Washington that their embassy would be attacked if the Shah was allowed to enter the United States. Two weeks later, when President Jimmy Carter let the Shah enter the United States, our Embassy in Iran was attacked. They demanded the extradition of the Shah in return for the hostages’ release.

Some Of The Hostages Underwent A Mock Execution

Some of the hostages said their treatment wasn’t bad, while others said they were subjected to torture, beatings, and mock executions. Three of the male hostages said they were awoken in the middle of the night, stripped, and taken to a basement where the guards made it seem they were about to be executed by firing squad. The guards fired their weapons at them, which were loaded with blanks.

The Hostages Were Released When President Reagan Was Sworn In

Even though President Carter reached an agreement with Iran for the release of the hostages in December,  the Iranians waited literally until the hour President Reagan was sworn in before allowing a plane with the hostages to take off. Iran had such a hatred of President Carter, they wanted to deny him this last moment of victory as President.

Carter Met With the Freed Hostages Afterward

William Daugherty, who was one of the hostages said, "It was not a warm welcome" when Jimmy Carter flew to the U.S. military base in Germany to meet the hostages after their release. Many of them felt they were left unprotected in the embassy after President Carter made the decision to allow the Shah into the United States. Daugherty went on to say that Carter went around to hug all the hostages, but many of them remained still with their arms at their sides and did not return his hug.

The Old Tehran U.S. Embassy Is Now A Museum

The former Tehran U.S. Embassy is now a museum and Islamic cultural center. It is now considered a symbol of the revolution and nicknamed the “den of spies”.  Old typewriters, communication equipment, and other relics are on display, preserved from the days when the embassy was a prison. Every year on the anniversary of the hostage taking, Iranians hold rallies with participants chanting “Death to America”, just as they did in 1979.

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5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Monopoly_2

On November 5, 1935, Parker Brothers began marketing the board game “Monopoly,” and has sold more than 250 million games around the world. Even if you think you're an expert, there are some little-known facts about Monopoly that may surprise you...

The First Version Of The Game Was Created By A Woman

Before Charles Darrow sold the game to Parker Brothers, Lizzie Magie patented her Landlord’s Game in 1904, which was eerily similar to Monopoly. To play the Landlord’s Game, participants worked their way around a board paying rent and purchasing properties. Sound familiar? Twenty-nine years later, Charles Darrow made a few tweaks to Magie's board game and sold it Parker Brothers in 1935.

The Game Mascot Was Based On A Real Person

Monopoly players are familiar with Rich Uncle Pennybags, the Monopoly mascot who wears a bowtie, top hat, and morning suit. But, most people don’t realize the character is based on J.P. Morgan. The character first appeared on Chance and Community Chest cards in 1936. John Pierpont Morgan held the controlling interest in many industries such as U.S. Steel, AT&T, General Electric, and 21 different railroads, so it seemed a logical choice as the game’s mascot.

The Board Pieces Were Inspired By The Creator’s Niece.

Darrow initially thought players could supply their own board pieces from items around their home, but his niece suggested using the charms from a girl’s bracelet. The original board tokens were added in 1937 and included a top hat, thimble, iron, purse, rocking horse, car, lantern, and shoe. Over the years, many special editions have been released such as The Godfather version with a horse’s head token and the Star Trek version with the captain’s chair token.

Surprising Records Have Been Set By Game Players

If you've ever played a game of Monopoly, you know it can take a while to determine a winner. A typical game should last around 60 to 90 minutes, but according to Hasbro, the longest game on record lasted 70 straight days. There have been a slew of other records that have been set by Monopoly players. The longest game played while in a bathtub was 99 hours, and players were even up in a treehouse playing for 286 hours.

Monopoly Helped POWs Escape During WWII

During World War II, British secret service reportedly used Monopoly boxes to smuggle escape supplies to POWs in Germany. The boxes contained handy items to use when escaping such as a file and compass that served as playing pieces, a map concealed inside the board, and banknotes hidden underneath the colorful Monopoly money. Apparently the Germans never realized what what was hidden inside the game boxes.   

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5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Honest Abe_3

On November 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the United States over a deeply divided Democratic Party, becoming the first Republican to win the presidency. See if you know these five lesser-known facts about Honest Abe...

Lincoln Spoke With A ­High-Pitched Voice

You might think that such a tall, imposing man as Lincoln had a deep voice. All reports claim that his voice was high-pitched, and sharp. Those who heard Lincoln speak also described his voice as being close to falsetto and at times “unpleasant.” However, Lincoln's actions and written words, not his voice, went a long way toward establishing his reputation. 

He Grew A Beard After An 11 Year Old Girl Suggested It

Chances are that, when you picture Abraham Lincoln in your mind, you picture him with a beard. Lincoln grew one shortly before he was elected president. The reason for the sudden hair growth may have come from the advice of an 11-year-old girl named Grace Bedell from New York. Grace wrote Lincoln a letter urging  the presidential candidate to grow a beard for the election. In the letter, she argued “your face is so thin” and "all the ladies like whiskers”.  She insisted that people would vote for a man with a beard. Lincoln did respond to her letter, and started growing a beard not long after.

He Got an Unusually Large Christmas Present During the Civil War

In 1864, General William T. Sherman embarked on his infamous 285-mile "March to the Sea, during which his troops burned Atlanta to the ground, and ended with the capture of Savanna, Georgia by Union forces. Sherman alerted President ­Lincoln of the capture of Savanna with a telegram presenting Lincoln with Savannah as a Christmas present. Sherman’s message read, “I beg to present you as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with one hundred and fifty heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton.”

He Was Not The Main Speaker At Gettysburg

The famed Gettysburg Address was actually meant to be a quick introduction for another speaker. That's right; Lincoln was just the opening act. He was supposed to give a short speech before former Secretary of State Edward Everett took the stage. The occasion was the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery, and Everett was one of the best known and most regarded orators of his time. Everett spoke for about two hours, although people only remember the two-minute speech given by President Abraham Lincoln.

A Medium Warned Lincoln About The Assassination

Charles J. Colchester worked as a medium and held seances for Mary Lincoln, who was grieving for the loss of Lincoln’s son, Willie, who died of typhoid fever in 1862 at age 11. Colchester warned the president of an assassination attempt on his life. This warning may have been given because the medium was a friend of John Wilkes Booth. By April 1865, Booth had abandoned plans to kidnap Lincoln and decided to kill him, which he announced to some of his friends. Perhaps Colchester was one of the people who learned of the plot

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5 Things You Didn't Know About Jeannette Rankin

On this day in 1916, Montana suffragist Jeannette Rankin was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives becoming the first woman in the history of the nation to win a seat in the federal Congress. Here are five things you didn't know about Jeannette Rankin.

She Was Elected Before Women Won The Right To Vote Nationally

Rankin was elected to Congress in 1916 and sworn-in in 1917 after women were given full voting rights in Montana, but before women could vote nationally. Rankin played a leading role in advocating for women’s suffrage in Montana, delivering groundbreaking testimony before the state legislature and numerous speeches all across Big Sky Country.  In 1914, her home state of Montana finally passed a law granting suffrage to women in that state. Two years later, in the very next federal election, Rankin threw her hat into the ring in a race for the U.S. House of Representatives. With the financial backing of her well-connected brother, she advanced out of the Republican primary and then came in second in the general election, good enough to secure one of Montana’s two at-large seats. No other female would serve in Congress until 1921, after the ratification of the 19th amendment enfranchised women nationwide.

She Cast The Lone Congressional Vote against World War II

You often hear about Rankin's election to Congress in 1916, but you rarely hear about her second election to Congress in 1940. Rankin was a pacifist and was so determined to avoid getting the U.S. involved in war that she even voted against getting involved in World War I. She was voted out of office two years later because of that vote. However, she was voted back into office in 1940, which is unfortunate timing if you're a pacifist. That's because she was sworn in just as the United States was about to enter another world war. And, once again, she opposed U.S. entry into that conflict, voting—the day after Pearl Harbor—against a declaration of war with Japan that passed 388-1 in the House and 82-0 in the Senate. The boos directed at her during the roll call vote were apparently so intense that she needed a police escort back to her office. She declined to run for re-election the following year.

Rankin Was a Vietnam War Protestor

Rankin is a great example of someone who does not give up. Even in her late 80s, she was protesting war; this time, it was the Vietnam War. In 1968, when she was 87, she led some 5,000 women dressed in black, calling themselves the Jeannette Rankin Brigade, on a march to the U.S. Capitol, where they presented an anti-Vietnam War petition to House Speaker John McCormack. Later that year, she started to consider yet another run for Congress. However, she died in 1973 before she could begin a campaign.

Montana Has Yet To Elect a Second Female Member Of Congress

While Rankin served in Congress twice, she's so far the only woman to represent Montana at the federal level. As of today, no women have represented Montana in the Senate, and Rankin was the only House representative. However, more women have tried to get elected; for example, the Democratic candidate for the 2020 House of Representatives race was Kathleen Williams. Wiliams however was defeated by Republican Matt Rosendale on Tuesday.

She Fought To Make Women's Citizenship Independent Of Their Husbands

In 1907, Congress passed the Expatriation Act. This act stripped women of U.S. citizenship if they married non-citizen men, but gave non-citizen women citizenship if they married men who were U.S. citizens. The "reasoning" was that non-citizen women who chose to marry U.S. citizens were supporting the country and making the "right" choice, but that women who married non-citizens were basically traitors to the country. Rankin tried to change this law so that women's citizenship was their own and not linked to that of their husbands. She did not succeed, but after women got the right to vote in 1920, they applied such pressure to change the law that in 1922, the Cable Act was passed, which would not strip a woman of her citizenship if she married a non-citizen who was eligible to become a citizen.

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5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About HBO

On November 8, 1972, the premium cable TV network HBO made its debut with a showing of the movie Sometimes a Great Notion. Here are 5 things you probably didn’t know about the oldest and longest-running pay television service in American history...

It Was Originally Called The Green Channel

Charles Dolan, who was the founder of Cablevision, believed there was a market to see live sporting events and movies on a premium station. He intended to call it the Green Channel because people would pay money for it.  However, this didn’t entirely resonate with the network’s customer base. After receiving an investment from Time, Inc., Dolan renamed the project Home Box Office to more accurately reflect the services it provided.

You Probably Haven’t Heard Of The First Film That HBO Broadcast

Ever heard of "Sometimes a Great Notion"? Yeah, didn’t think so. The 1971 drama starring Paul Newman and Henry Fonda was the first movie the network broadcast. It is about a family of loggers struggling in competition against big companies and was directed by Newman himself. Although the movie didn’t win any awards, actor Richard Jaekel received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Joe Ben Stamper.

HBO Used Microwaves To Distribute Its Signal

Before advanced technology had been developed, HBO distributed its signal using microwaves. But satellite offered a far greater reach at less of an expense, and as the channel hit a ceiling of subscribers, they switched to satellite transmission. On September 30, 1975 Home Box Office became the first television network to continuously deliver its signal via satellite when it transmitted the "Thrilla in Manila", televised from the Philippines. By 1977, the service had over 600,000 households signed up. 

HBO Was Initially On The Air For Just Nine Hours At A Time

The network aired programs for just nine hours every day for almost the entire first decade of its existence. It wasn’t until competitor Showtime offered a 24-hour schedule in 1981 that the channel decided to match it.

HBO Was Hacked By An Angry Customer

HBO began scrambling its satellite signal in 1986, which angered dish owners who felt that buying the expensive dish equipment entitled them to free programming. Customer John MacDougall was angered by the thought that he had to pay for both a satellite dish and for access to HBO and decided to do something about it. MacDougall, who was a dish dealer at the time, hacked into an HBO presentation and displayed the message “$12.95/month? No Way!” MacDougall was fined $5,000, and given probation. In 2017, HBO was hacked again by an Iranian hacker who stole 1.5 terabytes of data and released the script of one of the unaired episodes of Game of Thrones.

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5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Willie Nelson_3

On November 9, 1990, Willie Nelson's assets were seized by the IRS to pay back part of the $16.7 million he owed in taxes. Here are 5 things you probably didn’t know about country singer and songwriter Willie Nelson...

He Recorded an Album to Pay Off His IRS Debt

After Nelson’s home and other assets were seized by the IRS in 1990, he was left with a debt to the government of $32 million. Although it was negotiated down, Nelson still had to raise money to pay that enormous debt. He did it by recording a new album called The “IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories,” which his fans could buy by calling 1-800-IRS-TAPE.  The IRS collected $3.6 million from the sales of the album, and after a payment of $9 million during the next five years, Nelson's debt was satisfied

He Has Been Playing The Same Guitar For More Than Years

Nelson has been playing his beloved guitar Trigger since 1969. Trigger was named after the palomino horse owned by western television star and singer Roy Rogers. Nelson has played the Martin N-20 guitar for over half a century. When his assets were being seized, Nelson hid Trigger with family and friends, and sometime later, when his home caught fire, he ran back into the house to save Trigger and another guitar case with two pounds of pot inside.

Getting Into a Fight With Nelson Would Be a Mistake

He’s been training for several decades in Gong Kwon Yu Sul, which is a type of martial arts practiced in Korea, and he was awarded a 5th-degree black belt in 2014 at age 81. His interest in martial arts began early when he was writing songs in Nashville. He also holds a second-degree black belt in Taekwondo, so despite his age, he probably isn’t someone to challenge.

He Sang With Rosalynn Carter

Nelson has been longtime friends with Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, for many years and performed for the couple and guests at the White House on September 13, 1980. Guests were delighted when Rosalynn joined the popular singer to perform a duet of “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother.” In 2012, the former President got his own chance to share the stage with the legendary musician when the two performed “Amazing Grace” together in Atlanta.

He Retired in 1972 (It Didn't Last)

In 1972, famed singer Willie Nelson decided to retire and kick back and relax in Austin, Texas. He even went so far as to buy out his contract for $14,000. His retirement didn’t last long. Within a year, he was back on the charts with the album Shotgun Willie. By the mid-1970s, he scored some of his greatest hits with the three albums: “The Troublemaker,” “Red Headed Stranger” and “The Sound in Your Mind.”

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5 Things You Might Not Know Were Invented By Women_2

On November 10, 1903, Mary Anderson patented her invention of the windshield wiper which soon became standard on all motor vehicles. Find out about 5 surprising inventions that were designed and patented by women...

Motorists Can Thank a Woman For Windshield Wipers

In 1903, Mary Anderson was a rancher and real estate developer who invented the first manually operated windshield wipers. Cadillac was the first car manufacturer to include windshield wipers on all of their vehicles, and other companies soon followed. Another female inventor, Charlotte Bridgwood, invented the automatic version of the windshield wiper using an electric roller in 1917. 

Dog Walking Became Easier Because of a Woman

A clever dog owner in New York City, Mary A. Delaney, invented the retractable dog leash in 1908. She invented it so dog walkers could keep their pooches under better control while still giving them some freedom to roam. Surprisingly enough, the child harness was not invented by a woman and was patented eleven years later by R.C. O’Connor.

The Woman Who Made a Fortune Inventing Liquid Paper

Like many women in the 1950s, Bette Nesmith Graham made a living as a secretary. The problem was that she wasn’t a good typist, and kept making mistakes. She began experimenting with ways to cover up her errors. She mixed ingredients such as white tempera water-based paint in her kitchen blender and painted over her mistakes with a thin paintbrush. She began marketing her typewriter correction fluid as "Liquid Paper". In 1979, she sold Liquid Paper to the Gillette Corporation for $47.5 million. Her son, Michael Nesmith, would also find fame as a member of the rock band The Monkees.

The Dishwasher Was Invented By a Woman

Josephine Cochrane was a housewife when she dreamed up the idea for the first automatic dishwasher, which she patented in 1886. She worked on the design in a shed behind her home, and her invention included a wire rack to place the dishes on, a wheel, a boiler, and water pressure to make it operate efficiently. Her invention was displayed at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, where the judges found it so impressive, they awarded it first prize. Although the inventor never used it herself, it made life easier for her servants.

A Woman Invented the Life Rafts Used on the Titanic

Inventor Maria Beasley was already a wealthy woman because of her eight patents for the barrel-hooping machine (an invention that made it easier to place the metal bands on barrels). In 1882, she patented a design for a foldable life raft with fireproof guardrails. The life rafts invented by Beasley were used onboard the luxury liner Titanic and are credited with saving more than 700 lives when the ship sank in the North Atlantic in 1912.

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5 Things You Didn't Know About Arlington National Cemetery

On November 11, 1921, exactly three years after the end of World War I, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was dedicated at Arlington Cemetery in Virginia. This cemetery is steeped in a treasure trove of rich history. Here are five things you may not know about Arlington National Cemetery...

One Crypt Remains Empty At The Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier

In 1921, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was built for an unidentified World War I American soldier who was exhumed from an American cemetery in France. The tomb was engraved with the words: “Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.” Three other graves alongside the tomb hold the remains of unknown soldiers from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. One of those crypts was exhumed in 1998, and the remains were identified as Air Force officer Michael Joseph Blassie, who was killed during the Vietnam War in May 1972.  His remains were then moved to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri.  Officials decided to keep the crypt vacant and replaced its cover with one that says: “Honoring and Keeping Faith with America’s Missing Servicemen 1958-1975.”

The Cemetery Grounds Were Owned By a Relative of George Washington

George Washington Parke Custis, the first president’s adopted grandson, originally owned Arlington estate which is now the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery. Custis initially thought about naming the 1,100-acre property Mount Washington, but named it Arlington, which was the name of the Custis family’s estate in Virginia. Custis did however honor his grandfather's legacy by building the Arlington House as a memorial to his adopted grandfather.  The mansion still stands today and can be found on the grounds of the cemetery.

Sentinels Guard The Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier

Twenty-four hours a day, rain or shine, soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as "The Old Guard," stand watch over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Tomb Guards, also called Sentinels, are chosen for this prestigious and highly selective post only after rigorous training and a demanding series of examinations. The Old Guard has held this distinguished duty since 1948.  

The First Person Interred on The Grounds Was Not a Service Member

Mary Randolph, a cousin of the wife of George Washington Park Custis, died on January 23, 1828, and was buried on the estate, which predated any servicemen interred there. She was the author of “The Virginia House-Wife; Or, Methodical Cook,” which was one of the most popular housekeeping and cookbook published in the 19th century. As an interesting bit of trivia, Mary Randolph was descended from John Rolfe and Pocahontas on her mother’s side.

More Than Two Dozen Funerals Are Held Daily

More than 400,000 active duty service members, veterans, and their families are buried in the sprawling 624-acre grounds of Arlington National Cemetery. A total of 27 to 30 funerals are held each day during the week and between six and eight burial services are performed on Saturdays.

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5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Ellis Island_3

On Nov 12, 1954, Ellis Island closed its doors. It had served as the reception station for more than 12 million immigrants to the United States between 1892 and 1924. Here are 5 things you didn’t know about this gateway to a new life in America....

The Island Had Been Used to Hang Condemned Prisoners

During the early 1800s, Ellis Island was the hanging place of criminals, pirates, and sailors who tried to commit mutiny. New Yorkers called it Gibbet Island, which is where the bodies were displayed, and crowds would gather around the island in boats to watch the spectacle. The last hanging took place in 1839, after which the name reverted to Ellis Island, which was the name of the last man who owned the property.

Three Unaccompanied Children Were the First Immigrants at Ellis Island

On January 1, 1892, three unaccompanied children from County Cork, Ireland, were the first to set foot on Ellis Island and go through the processing as new immigrants. The eldest, teenager Annie Moore, had arrived with her brothers, age 11 and 7, to join their family in New York. To mark the occasion, she was given a $10 gold piece, and a statue of the young girl and her siblings is displayed at the Immigration Museum on Ellis Island.

Ellis Island Used to be Privately Owned

The island was owned by John Samuel Ellis, a merchant in New York. Ellis attempted to sell the island unsuccessfully for nine years, advertising it as a “pleasant situated island lying in New York Bay". Finding no takers, he leased the property to New York to be used as a military defense against the British. Ellis retained ownership of the island until his death in 1794. In 1808, New York bought the island for $10,000 from his family.

It Wasn’t Opened to The Public Until 1976

The U.S. government tried to sell Ellis Island in the 1950s, and would-be developers proposed everything from a drug rehab facility to a resort marina. None of these projects ever got off the ground, and the island  spent the next 20 years in limbo. The island was finally opened for tours in 1976, but plans for a historical museum and renovation didn’t come together until the 1980s, when automotive pioneer Lee Iacocca helped spearhead a fundraising project for Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. The restored island was opened to the public in September 1990, and it now receives around 3 million visitors each year.

New Jersey is Now The Official Owner Of Ellis Island

While Ellis Island was historically part of New York, a Supreme Court ruling determined most of the island is in New Jersey.  In May of 1998, the Supreme Court ended a long-standing argument between New Jersey and the Empire State over who actually owns the Island. Based on a land claims agreement between the two states made before Ellis Island became a gateway for nearly 12 million immigrants. The court battle resulted in a 6-3 Supreme Court ruling that gave 90 percent of Ellis Island to New Jersey.

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5 Things You Didnt Know About The Vietnam Veterans Memorial

On November 13, 1982, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C. The long row of black granite slabs, each engraved with the names of those who died as a result of the war, has become one of the best-known war memorials in the country. Here are five things you didn't know about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Was Built Without Government Funds

It's not unusual for a national museum or monument to receive some federal funding, such as the federal appropriations for the Smithsonian or the Washington Monument. However, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was funded solely by donations and money obtained through fundraising. Congress did set aside land for the memorial, but no money came from the government. The original funds -- $2,800 -- came from a wounded Vietnam War veteran named Jan C. Scruggs, who after watching the move "The Deer Hunter," proposed setting up a memorial as a way to help vets heal from the trauma of war. With the help of celebrities and a couple hundred thousand Americans, the fund grew to $8.4 million.

A College Student Won The Memorial’s Design Contest

Those who supported the memorial had no design in mind. Instead, they held a design contest in which anonymous submissions would be evaluated. The guidelines stipulated that the memorial should contain the names of every American who died in Vietnam or remained missing in action, and make no political statement about the war. Over 1,400 submissions came in, to be judged anonymously by a panel of eight artists and designers. In the end, the panel passed over every professional architect in favor of 21-year-old Yale University student Maya Lin. Her design had actually been part of a class project in a course on funereal architecture. She entered the design in the memorial contest at the urging of her professor.

There Was Some Serious Opposition to Lin's Minimalist Design

Lin's design was loved by many as it was seen as centering the names of those who died and not drawing attention away to any bells or whistles. However, to some, the memorial was quite controversial, and didn't sit well with a lot of people. Much of the opposition focused on how depressing the black structure looked. Author Tom Wolfe called it “a tribute to anti-war activist Jane Fonda,” Vietnam veteran Jim Webb, a future U.S. Senator, referred to it as “a nihilistic slab of stone,” and political commentator Pat Buchanan accused one of the design judges of being a communist. The criticisms soon died down, and in 2007, it was ranked tenth on the "List of America's Favorite Architecture" by the American Institute of Architects.

Names Are Still Being Added To The Memorial

When the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was first dedicated, Lin’s wall contained the names of 57,939 American servicemen believed to have lost their lives in the Vietnam War. As of September 2020, there are now 58,279 names on the wall. In order to be added, a deceased soldier must meet specific U.S. Department of Defense criteria. Furthermore, over 100 names have been identified as misspelled. In some cases, the correction could be done in place. In others, the name had to be chiseled again elsewhere, moving them out of chronological order.

Offerings Are Left At The Memorial Almost Every Day

Thousands of offerings have been intentionally left at the memorial since it opened, including letters, military medals, dog tags, and photographs. Sometimes these are substantial (a motorcycle was once left at the wall). The National Park Service collects these items every day and sends them to a storage facility in Maryland where they are cataloged. Though that facility is not open to the public, certain memorial artifacts are put on view as part of traveling exhibits.

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5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Moby-Dick

On November 14, 1851, Herman Melville published the whaling adventure Moby-Dick.  While the book is considered a classic now, it wasn't always so well-received when it was published.  Here are five things you probably didn't know about Moby-Dick....

Two Whales Helped Inspire The Story

Herman Melville was influenced by a lot of people and events, but two whales were particularly influential when it comes to the story of Moby-Dick. One was a 70 foot powerful white whale called Mocha Dick.  Mocha Dick survived at least 100 skirmishes with whalers before he was eventually killed in 1839.  For his novel, Melville would replace the word “Mocha” with “Moby” (though no one is sure why). The novel was also influenced by an event that took placed over a decade before the death of Mocha Dick.  A Nantucket whaling ship called the Essex was rammed and sunk by an angry sperm whale in the southern Pacific.  The 20 man crew jumped into lifeboats, and drifted over 3,000 miles for four months. Those who didn't die during that journey, had to resort to cannibalism; only five crewmen survived.

The Novel Is Dedicated To Nathaniel Hawthorne

Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne (known for The Scarlet Letter) lived only a few miles apart from each other in Massachusetts. They first met in 1850; at that point, Melville had just finished a draft of Moby-Dick. Herman Melville was compelled to rewrite his novel after meeting with Hawthorne. Melville revamped the story entirely to focus more on the human cost in the tale. Hawthorne’s influence completely changed the direction and tone of Moby-Dick. The two literary titans became lifelong friends and Melville dedicated the book to his friend.

Another Whale Attacked Occurred Right Before Moby-Dick Was Released

In August of 1851, a whale attacked and sunk a whaling vessel in Massachusetts called the Ann Alexander only three months before Moby-Dick was released in the United States.. “It is really and truly a surprising coincidence—to say the least,” Melville wrote about the Ann Alexander in a letter to an acquaintance. Melville speculated (non-seriously) in the letter that he wondered if his writing had summoned the whale and if the whale's appearance was some sort of criticism of his book.

Only 3,725 Copies Were Purchased During Melville's Lifetime

Moby-Dick was Melville's sixth book. In contrast to his lighter and earlier works, Moby-Dick was met with poor sales, and considered a commercial failure. Melville’s total earnings from Moby-Dick amounted to a paltry $556.37.  The poor reception basically ended Melville's literary career. He continued to try to write magazine articles, and short stories, but he eventually got a job as a customs inspector. It wasn't until the 1920s that Moby-Dick started gaining the recognition that it has today.

Starbucks Is Named After One Of The Main Characters

Whales and coffee have nothing to do with each other, but somehow the largest coffeehouse in the world ended up with a name straight out of Moby-Dick. When the founders of Starbucks were searching for a name, they turned to Mr.Starbuck, Captain Ahab’s first mate on the Pequod ship. One of the other founders  wanted to use the ships name Pequod. However in the end, they decided that "pee-quod" wasn't really the name they wanted to associate with coffee.

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5 Things You Didn't Know About The Constitution

On November 15, 1777, the Second Continental Congress approved the Articles of Confederation, a precursor to the Constitution of the United States. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about the Constitution...

Benjamin Franklin Had To Be Carried Into The Convention

At the time the convention was held, Benjamin Franklin was 81 years old and suffered from severe gout, which prevented him from being able to walk. For at least the first few days of the Convention, he was carried to Independence Hall on a chair by four prisoners from the jail on Walnut Street.

Writing The Constitution Cost $30

You know the names of Benjamin Franklin and James Madison, but lets also give some credit to lesser known figures such as Founding Father Gouverneur Morris, who wrote the Preamble to the Constitution and is responsible for much of the document's wording; and Jacob Shallus, the Pennsylvania General Assembly assistant clerk who actually held the pen that actually wrote the Constitution. While it might not sound like much money, that $30 would be around $900 at today’s rates. That still doesn’t sound like much considering it is one of the most important documents in American history.

Some Words In The Constitution Are Spelled Strangely

Because the way words were spelled in English wasn’t yet standardized, some of the wording, spelling, and punctuation might seem odd to today’s readers. Alexander Hamilton made an error himself when he wrote in the name of each state by spelling “Pennsylvania” and leaving out an “n.” A number of the mistakes were simply omissions, which were inserted by Shallus by placing a word between the lines, and spellings varied from labour, the British spelling, to “chuse” instead of choose.

Not Every Founding Father Signed The Constitution

Thomas Jefferson never signed the Constitution because he was in Paris serving as the Minister to France. John Adams didn’t sign it because he was the Minister to Great Britain and out of the country. A handful of Founding Fathers, such as George Mason, Elbridge Gerry, and Edmund Randolph were present for the signing but refused to put their name on the document. Other Founding Father such as Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock refused to even attend the signing.  When Patrick Henry was asked why he declined to attend the convention, he supposedly said, "I smelt a rat."

For Decades, It Was Unknown Who Would Succeed If Something Happened To The President

According to Article II, Section 1: "In case of the removal of the President from office, or of his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President."  While this section states that the Vice President inherits the powers and duties of the presidency, it does not state that he or she should assume the office of the presidency itself. But when President William Henry Harrison became the first president to die while in office in 1841, Vice President John Tyler began referring to himself as the President, and the convention stuck. The tradition continued until 1967 when the 25th Amendment was ratified, making succession to the presidency official.

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6 Things You Probably Didn't Know About "The Sound of Music"_3

On November 16, 1959, “The Sound of Music” opened on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater in New York City. Here are five things you didn’t know about "The Sound of Music"... 

Critics in New York Hated It

The musical opened at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater on Broadway, and New York critics hated it, thinking it was too saccharine. However, ticket sales made in advance were already up to $2 million, and the public had a different opinion, which ended up making “The Sound of Music” one of the most popular musicals in American history.

Mary Martin Missed Only One Show

During her two years appearing in the Broadway show as Maria, Mary Martin, the mother of actor Larry Hagman, only missed one show. She wasn’t considered for the movie role—that role went to Julie Andrews. At the time, Martin was 47, which was too old to play a postulant nun on the big screen.

Julie Andrews Nearly Turned Down The Role As Maria

Julie Andrews had just finished filming Mary Poppins in 1964 when she was first approached to star in The Sound of Music. The actress nearly turned down the role of Maria for fear that the character was too similar to that of Mary Poppins.

The Movie Is Historically Inaccurate

Fans of the movie undoubtedly remember when the family crossed the mountains to reach the safety of Switzerland to escape the Nazis. However, the real Von Trapps made an easier journey to safety by taking a train to Italy. Going over the mountains would have been a mistake because they would have ended up near Hitler’s mountain retreat in Germany. George von Trapp was reportedly a kind person, not as harsh as depicted in the movie. He had 10 children, not the seven portrayed in the film. Most surprisingly, Maria wrote that she didn’t love him when she married him: "I really and truly was not in love. I liked him but didn't love him. However, I loved the children, so in a way I really married the children.”

Christopher Plummer Hated The Movie

Those who were considered to play Captain von Trapp were Sean Connery, Bing Crosby, and Richard Burton. However, the role went to Christopher Plummer. Although The Sound of Music is considered one of the best musicals ever made, Plummer hated the film so much that he called it "The Sound of Mucus“. He was quoted as saying “it was so awful and sentimental and gooey.” His dislike working on the movie may have led to his overeating and drinking during filming, which caused him to gain so much weight his costumes had to be let out.

The Release of The Movie Rescued 20th Century Fox

The movie Cleopatra had been a financial disaster for 20th Century Fox, costing more than $31 million, and the company was nearly bankrupt. Because The Sound of Music was such a huge hit, surpassing even Gone With the Wind with gross ticket sales of more than $163 million in the United States alone, 20th Century Fox found itself rolling in money. The Sound of Music went on to win five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. It is considered the most successful musical ever on film.

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5 Things You Didn't Know About Richard Nixon_3

On this day in 1973, in the midst of the Watergate scandal that eventually ended his presidency, President Richard Nixon told a group of newspaper editors that he is “not a crook.”  Here are 5 things you didn't know about the president that some nicknamed “Tricky Dick.”...

He Installed A Bowling Alley Under The White House

Richard Nixon was an avid bowler, preferring the sport to golf unlike most presidents. In 1969, he ordered that a new lane be constructed underground below the White House driveway leading to the North Portico. Nixon allegedly once bowled 300 games back to back and although his average is said to have been a closely guarded state secret, the press reported his high score to be an impressive 232.

He Wanted The Secret Service To Wear Uniforms

Members of the Secret Service usually dress in suits and ties with sunglasses and the obligatory earbuds. However, When Nixon took office, however, he wanted his men to resemble the palace guards he had seen in other countries.  That being said, he insisted his Secret Service detail wear odd-looking hats and white double-breasted tunics complete with gold braid and epaulets. After he was criticized by the press, Nixon abandoned the idea and the outfits were eventually donated to a high school marching band.

He Almost Messed Up The Charles Manson Trial

While Nixon was in office in 1969, America was consumed with the national obsession over cult leader Charles Manson and his followers, some of whom had gone on a murder spree that left actress Sharon Tate and several others dead. During the trial in 1970, Nixon publicly stated that Manson was “was guilty, directly or indirectly, of eight murders without reason.” The lawyers for Manson were quick to move for a mistrial because of Nixon’s statement. The president retracted his statement, with a spokesperson suggesting he neglected to include the word “allegedly.”

Milhous Was His Mother’s Maiden Name

Nixon’s unusual middle name came from the maternal side of his family. Hannah Elizabeth Milhous was the maiden name of the president’s mother before she married Francis Anthony Nixon. When the ancestors of Nixon’s mother moved from Germany to England in the 1600s, they changed their last names from Milhausen to Milhous.

He Ran A Failed Orange Juice Business

In 1938, Richard Nixon and several investors attempted to strike it rich making California orange juice. Nixon was the president of the Citra-Frost Company, which produced and sold the frozen orange juice. The future president even cut and squeezed the oranges himself. Unfortunately, Citra-Frost’s misguided attempt to freeze the juice itself, rather than the concentrate, doomed it to bankruptcy after just 18 months.

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5 Things You Didn't Know About Mickey Mouse_2

On November 18, 1928, the first successful sound-synchronized animated cartoon, Walt Disney's "Steamboat Willie" starring Mickey Mouse, premiered in New York. Here are five fun facts you didn’t know about everyone's favorite mouse. 

Disney’s Mascot Was Almost A Rabbit

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was created in 1927 by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks for Universal Pictures. He was a pretty popular character, so when Disney and Universal had a disagreement, Universal took control of the rabbit, and  Walt Disney and Iwerks created Mickey Mouse.  Disney’s Mickey Mouse bore an interesting resemblance to Oswald. In 2006, Disney reacquired the character in an odd exchange for sportscaster Al Michaels. Michaels wanted out of his ABC contract to join NBC's Sunday Night Football. Since NBC wanted Michaels, Universal—which owns NBC—offered to return Oswald to Disney in exchange for the sportscaster.

Mickey Mouse Is The Most Popular Write-In Candidate At the Voting Booth

Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and others receive write-in votes during elections, which is the voter’s way of saying they don’t like any of the candidates running for the office. Mickey is the number one choice of those voters during presidential elections in the United States. In Sweden, however, Donald Duck, who is called Kalle Anka in Swedish, is more likely to get voted in. In 2006, "The Donald Duck Party" came in 21st place out of the 40 represented parties running for office.

Mickey Was Banned in Some Countries

Mickey Mouse has been banned in Romania, Iran, Yugoslavia, and Germany. The government of Romania banned Mickey in 1935 because they thought the sight of a giant rodent on-screen would terrify children. In 2014, Iran banned Disney characters such as Mickey, Winnie the Pooh, and Toy Story characters because they were “demoralizing.” The state of Ohio once banned a Mickey Mouse cartoon in 1930 because one of its characters, Clarabelle Cow, was reading a romance novel.

Mickey Was Almost Named Mortimer

When Walt Disney was developing Mickey Mouse, his original idea was to name him Mortimer. When he told his wife Lillian the name he had in mind, she told him she didn’t think it worked for the character. After going back to the drawing board, he offered Mickey Mouse as a possibility and got a positive response. That’s how the iconic character got his name. Mortimer was later used as the name of Mickey’s rival.

Mickey Has Only Four Fingers For a Reason

Cartoon characters, in general, tend to have only four fingers. One of the reasons is that it is quicker and easier to draw, which saves the artists time and the companies money. In addition, according to Disney himself, adding that extra finger would have made the mouse’s hand look like a bunch of bananas. According to a remark Disney made to Bob Thomas, “five fingers seemed like too much on such a little figure.”

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5 Things You Didn't Know About The Gettysburg Address_3

On November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at the dedication of a military cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Here are 5 surprising facts you probably didn’t know about the Gettysburg Address...

Lincoln Was Invited at the Last Minute

The Gettysburg ceremony was to dedicate the cemetery in honor of the Union soldiers who died there during the Civil War. Lincoln wasn’t the keynote speaker that day. (More on that later.)  Instead, a local attorney in the town had written to Lincoln asking that he come and make a few remarks. Lincoln’s statement only lasted about two minutes but lives on in history as one of the most important speeches made in the United States.

Lincoln Did Not Make the Keynote Speech

As previously noted, Lincoln’s speech was intended as an epilogue for the ceremony. The keynote speaker was Edward Everett—a renowned orator who served as the president of Harvard, ambassador to Britain, a U.S. senator, and the governor of Massachusetts during his life. He spoke for nearly two hours. Everett realized that he had been upstaged. He later wrote Lincoln, saying, “I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.”

No Photo Was Taken of Lincoln Addressing The Crowd

Although a photo of Lincoln moving through the crowd exists, photographers did not capture his photo while he was speaking. This is because what became known as the Gettysburg Address was only about two minutes long. The amount of time photographers of the day needed to set up their cameras took longer than the speech itself.  It is estimated that the only photo that captured Lincoln at the event was taken about three hours before Lincoln delivered his famous address. 

Lincoln Had No Idea How Historic His Speech Would Be

Historically speaking, Lincoln got a lot of things right. However, he misjudged how his speech at Gettysburg would be remembered. During his 270-word address, he said, “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.” He was only half right.

Lincoln Wrote Every Word of The Gettysburg Address

While subsequent presidents have all enjoyed significant assistance from speechwriters in crafting their messages, President Lincoln took a more hands-on approach and is one of the few presidents in U.S. history to have written the entirety of his speeches and remarks.

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5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Microsoft_3

On November 20, 1985, the first version of Microsoft Windows, Windows 1.0, was released. Windows has gone on to become a major operating system with both fans and detractors. Here are five things you didn't know about Microsoft.

Investing in Microsoft Stock in the 1980s Was a Good Investment

People who invested in Microsoft during the mid-1980s were probably taking a big financial risk. However, those who took that risk have found that it paid in a big way. If you would have invested  $1,000 in Microsoft on the day of its initial public offering in 1986, you would now have 13,714 shares after its 9 stock splits. Those shares would be worth $2.9 million at the current stock quote of $212.  A $5,000 investment would have purchased 238 shares at the IPO price. After the splits, it would be worth $14.5 million.  The dividends you would be earning every year are just as awesome. If you hadn't succumbed to the temptation to cash in your shares too early, you would also be earning $139,830 every year from dividends alone.

The Company Created Three Billionaires and 12,000 Millionaires

Bill Gates became the youngest billionaire in the world when he was 31, thanks to Microsoft.  In 1995, he  became the world's richest man with a net worth of $12.9 billion. However, he is not the only one to profit from Microsoft.  The explosive growth of the company created as many as 12,000 millionaires and at least two other billionaires including Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and former CEO Steve Ballmer. Soaring stock options were the main driver of the growth in wealth.

Microsoft Employees Have A "Sweet" Tradition

There is a very interesting tradition amongst the employees of Microsoft. On the anniversary date that you began working at Microsoft, there is an expectation that you will bring in sweets to share with your colleagues. And not just any old sweets will do; it has to be M&Ms. The amount of M&Ms to bring in depends on how long you have worked for the company. Traditionally, an employee brings in one pound of M&Ms for every year you have been in the employment of Microsoft.  Why the tradition was started and why the company insists on only M&Ms isn't known.

Windows' Startup Sound Was Composed By Brian Eno

Every person who uses windows will instantly recognize the start up tune that the computer plays after it is turned on. Although it is only a few notes in length, it is actually the work of an influential composer Brian Eno. This popular musician and composer has worked with some major talents over the years, including David Bowie and U2. The six-second tune known as ‘The Microsoft Sound’ became one of the more recognizable sounds of the 1990s.

Two "Friends" Appeared In The Windows 95 Training Video

In order to convince people to use Windows 95, Microsoft hired Friends stars Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry. Their job? To star in a "cybersitcom" teaching the masses how to use Windows. The video guide is in three parts: the “sitcom” portion featuring Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, and a cast of characters all with the purpose of teaching Matthew and Jennifer how to use Windows 95. Part two is a review of what was covered in the “sitcom,” and part three covers the twenty most frequently-asked questions about Windows 95.

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5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About "Dallas"_2

On November 21, 1980, 350 million people around the world tuned in to television’s popular prime-time drama “Dallas” to find out who shot J.R. Ewing, the character fans loved to hate. Here are 5 things you didn’t know about the hit television show “Dallas.”

J.R Was Never Meant To Be The Starring Character

Believe it or not, Larry Hagman’s J.R. Ewing was never meant to the main character in Dallas. The star of the show was actually meant to be Pam, played by Victoria Principal. However, Hagman’s portrayal of J.R was so good that the producers made him the star of the show instead. In fact he appeared in every episode and was the only actor to do so – that’s 357 episodes in all!

Dallas Was Almost Houston

When first creating the show, David Jacobs wrote only about a family involved in the oil business and not one specifically in Dallas. At that time, Dallas wasn't actually known for oil at all. It was known for banking, money, and unfortunately, the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It was Houston that was the big oil town, and Jacobs told Texas Monthly that he realized he'd really been writing about Houston. However, Michael Filerman, a Lorimar executive, changed the name of the show to Dallas. He said, ‘Dallas sounds better than Houston.’” 

Larry Hagman Based J.R. on Someone He Knew

Larry Hagman grew up in Texas and spent summers working for an actual oil baron west of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metro area. The work he did was manual, like digging a hole for a swimming pool, but it gave him a chance to observe how the family interacted and what happened when the patriarch, H.L. Hunt, died. Hagman said there was a fight for control of the business, with the son, Ray Lee Hunt, winning. Hagman based J.R. Ewing on Ray Lee Hunt.

A Video Game Was Made Based On The Television Show

The Dallas Quest was a video game released by Datasoft in 1984 and was based on the television show. The premise of the game is that Sue Ellen summons the player to Southfork and tells them she wants them to find a map of an oil field and return it to her. If the player is able to thwart J.R. and return the map, they’ll receive $2 million.  Along the way, the player had to fight off the Ewings, angry cattle, and monkeys.

J.R. Almost Didn't Survive That Cliffhanger Shooting

Hagman’s contract for the show determined whether J.R. lived or died. After the character J.R. was shot in the infamous cliffhanger, whether Hagman returned to the role depended on his demand for an increase in salary.  His contract was up, and he faced a very weird situation. On one hand, his popularity gave him some negotiating power to ask for more money. On the other hand, producers could easily replace Hagman with another actor and devise some way to explain the change (one actual rumor had J.R. possibly being trapped in the ambulance as it caught on fire, leading to plastic surgery). Hagman decided the producers wouldn't want to lose him, and he was right. Hagman received his raise in salary and a percentage of the series, so he stayed on the show.

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5 John F. Kennedy Assassination Conspiracy Theories

On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. According to a Gallup poll, 61% of Americans believe John F. Kennedy’s assassination was the result of a conspiracy. Here are 5 conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The Heir: Lyndon B. Johnson

This theory likely isn't that surprising. Johnson, then the Vice President under Kennedy, is a prime target for conspiracy theories simply because he was next in line for the presidency. The main proponent of the theory that LBJ was responsible for hiring a hitman to kill Kennedy is the real surprise. It's Roger Stone, the political advisor to Donald Trump, the same one who was convicted of lying to Congress and witness tampering. Stone believes that Lyndon Johnson hired hitman Malcolm Wallace to do the dirty work, which explains an allegation that Johnson ducked before any shots were fired. Stone also claimed Johnson told a mistress the day before the assassination, "After tomorrow I won’t have to deal with those Kennedy SOBs no more."

The Enemy: The KGB

The Cold War was in full swing in the early 1960s, and the KGB, the Soviet Union's secret police, was a constant threat.  According to JFK assassination expert Bryan Ghent, the KGB was responsible for the assassination, but Oswald was not. He believes that Oswald “was replaced by a Russian agent who looked like him in order to assassinate our president.” The main "proof" is that the body of the man we know as Oswald, after being exhumed in 1981, was missing a scar that was documented when Oswald entered the Marines.

The One Seeking Vengeance: Fidel Castro

Some of these theories claim Fidel Castro was directly involved in JFK’s death. They claim that Oswald was linked to Cuba and possibly Fidel Castro. The primary basis for this theory is Oswald’s trip to the Cuban Embassy two months before the assassination, where he allegedly had a meltdown because he wasn’t granted a visa. Because Oswald was a known supporter of Castro -- and the U.S. had also supported a failed attempt to invade Cuba and overthrow Castro during the Bay of Pigs invasion, some have tried to link Castro to the assassination.

The One Out of Left Field: Woody Harrelson's Dad

This theory stems from an actual confession, although the confession was later recanted. Charles Harrelson, the father of actor Woody Harrelson, was a hitman who was arrested and convicted of killing a federal judge. He was captured after a long standoff, during which he confessed to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He later recanted his statement, claiming he only confessed to the crime to ensure that he would live longer.

The Mutiny: The CIA

According to author Patrick Nolan, who wrote "CIA Rogues and the Killing of the Kennedys", a group ofAccording to author Patrick Nolan, who wrote CIA Rogues and the Killing of the Kennedys, a group of rogue CIA agents killed JFK. Nolan names James Angleton, Richard Helms, E. Howard Hunt, and David Phillips as members of the responsible group. These agents were supposedly unhappy with how the Bay of Pigs and Cuba were handled and wanted Kennedy gone. E. Howard Hunt, one of the Watergate conspirators, confessed on his deathbed to playing a role in a plot to kill Kennedy.

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5 Things You Didn't Know About The People's Republic Of China

On November 23, 1971, the People's Republic of China was seated at the United Nations Security Council meeting, the first meeting where representatives of the Beijing government represented China. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about the People’s Republic of China.

Table Manners Are a Bit Different In China

Table manners between Americans and Europeans can be different, but they would agree that burping, spitting, and other behaviors are not welcome while eating. In Asia, a loud belch is perceived as a sign of appreciation, and normal behavior when you are eating a meal in China. It is actually the highest form of flattery—it means you like the food! “The host considers the noise a compliment,” says Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick, founder and president of the Etiquette School of New York. Slurping your noodles pays the same respect.

China’s Army is the World’s Largest

The People’s Liberation Army boasts more than two million soldiers, which is a little less than the number of people who live in Paris.  But the soldiers in China haven't had much of any combat experience. The last time China was in a conflict was back in the 1980s. By law, military service is compulsory in China, although the country has never enforced conscription due to a large number of volunteers from its population.

China Owns All The Pandas In The World

China is the owner of all pandas. Literally, all of them! Every single panda that lives on this world belongs to China. If you see a panda in other countries, it means it is lent from the People’s Republic of China. What’s interesting is that when a baby panda is born, it is sent to China (always by FedEx) to help expand the gene pool.

China Only Has One Time Zone

China is a huge country with only one time zone! That means that in some parts of China, the sun doesn't rise until 10:00 in the morning. In the past, China has five different time zones. This lasted until 1949 when Communist leaders decided having one time zone for the entire country was a good idea. Since then, everyone in China is using official Beijing time.

Reproduction Is Limited

China is the only country in the world where the reproduction is limited. The population in the People's Republic of China is around 1.4 billion, so reproduction was restricted to one child per couple.  The one-child policy was part of a birth planning program designed to control the size of the rapidly growing population.  It was introduced in 1979, and modified beginning in the mid 1980s to allow rural parents a second child if the first was a daughter. This  lasted three more decades before the government announced in 2015 a reversion to a two-child limit. To enforce existing birth limits, provincial governments require the use of contraception, abortion, and sterilization to ensure compliance, and imposed enormous fines for violations.

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5 Things You Didn't Know About Freddie Mercury

On November 24, 1991, rock singer Freddie Mercury of Queen died at age 45 of pneumonia brought on by AIDS. Here are five things you might not have known about the Queen frontman...

He Was Not Always Freddie Mercury

In fact, Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara. He did not go by Freddie until he was in a boarding school near Mumbai India, and when Queen was formed in 1970, he finally legally changed his name to Freddie Mercury. He changed his last name to Mercury because of its association with the liquid metal and because the mythological figure was associated with singing. 

He Designed Queen’s Logo

Freddie Mercury attended Ealing Art College and held a degree in graphic design and art. He used his talent to design the logo for Queen. The crest he designed for the band is made of the zodiac signs of the whole band—two Leo lions for John Deacon and Roger Taylor, a Cancer crab for Brian May, and two fairies to represent Freddie's Virgo sign.  A large “Q” and crown of course represents the band’s name.

He Revealed He Had AIDS The Day Before He Died

Rumors were afloat for several years that Mercury had AIDS because the band had stopped touring, and the singer looked ill. He, along with his manager, announced it the day before he passed away. Mercury was 45 at the time of his death.

He Wrote a Song About His Cat

Over the years, Mercury owned at least 10 cats. Exactly how much did he love his furry friends? He had portraits of them. And when he was away on tour, he would call them at home. His ex-girlfriend and long-time friend Mary Austin would hold them up to the phone so they can listen to Freddie’s voice. One of his albums, “Innuendo,” contains a song about his favorite cat, Delilah. He even dedicated his solo album, Mr. Bad Guy to his cats and cat lovers across the world.

A llama Got In The Way Of A Duet With Michael Jackson

Mercury was an admirer of pop superstar Michael Jackson, and when he went solo, he reached out to MJ to work with him for a number of collaborations. The two began work on demos for three tracks in Jackson’s home studio in 1983: “There Must Be More to Life Than This,” “State of Shock” and “Victory.” Unfortunately, Mercury became upset when Jackson brought his pet llama to the studio. Jim Beech, Queen’s longtime manager, told London's The Times in 2013 that Mercury called him and asked to be picked up, because he was tired of being around the llama.

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6 Surprising Items That Were Rationed During World War II

On November 26, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered nationwide gasoline rationing to help the American war effort. Here are six surprising items that were rationed during World War II.

Rubber Was Scarce

Rubber was the first commodity to be rationed, after the Japanese invasion of the Dutch East Indies cut off the U.S. supply; the shortage of rubber affected the availability of products such as tires. Only people in services considered essential could purchase tires, and vehicle owners could only have five tires in their possession with any others being confiscated.

Footwear Was On Hold

Starting on February 9, 1943, Americans needed a coupon to buy a pair of shoes, and they received only three coupons a year unless their shoes were stolen or lost due to a catastrophe, leading to the issuance of a special certificate. Shoes were rationed because both leather and rubber were scarce due to the war effort, and even the height of boots or the sole of the shoe had to comply with regulations. Colors were restricted to four basic ones: black, white, town brown, and Army russet.

Running on Fumes

Rationing gasoline, it was reasoned, would conserve rubber by reducing the number of miles Americans drove. Ration stamps for gasoline were pasted to the windshield of a the automobile. The type of stamp determined the gasoline allotment for that automobile. Black stamps, for example, signified non-essential travel and mandated no more than three gallons per week, while red stamps were for workers who needed more gas, including policemen and mail carriers. In a separate attempt to reduce gas consumption, the government passed a mandatory wartime speed limit of 35 mph, known as the “Victory Speed.”

Sugar Was in Short Supply

The Japanese conquered the Philippines in the early part of 1942, causing the United States to lose a major source of sugar, and it became the first food to be rationed. On May 5, 1942, families received a ration book for sugar covering the next 56 weeks. The ration stamps were good for one pound of sugar and could be used over a two-week period.

Not Enough Coffee in Your Cup

Americans on the homefront saw coffee rationing begin on November 29, 1942. Each household was limited to one pound of coffee every five weeks. Coffee rationing ceased in 1943, which was probably as welcome as the end of Prohibition.

Life Changed As The Nation Rationed

Dealerships had to stop selling cars and bicycles to civilians because car factories needed to produce more military vehicles and equipment. Radios, phonographs, refrigerators, vacuums, washing machines, sewing machines, and typewriters were also unavailable for civilian purchase during this time.

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5 Things You Didn't Know About Thanksgiving_2

Happy Thanksgiving, folks! Although Thanksgiving will be a little different for many of us this year, today is still a day to give thanks! So grab a drumstick, and enjoy these 5 tasty Thanksgiving tidbits… 

There Are Four Towns In The US Named Turkey

There are four small towns in America that are named after the nation's favorite bird.  There is Turkey, Texas; Turkey, North Carolina, Turkey Creek, Louisiana; and and Turkey Creek, Arizona. Oh, and let's not forget the two townships in Pennsylvania: the creatively named Upper Turkeyfoot and Lower Turkeyfoot!

Macy’s First Parade on Thanksgiving Day Featured Live Animals

The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York took place in 1914 when Macy’s employees dressed in vibrant costumes and marched to the flagship store on 34th Street. The parade used floats instead of balloons, and it featured monkeys, bears, camels, and elephants all borrowed from the Central Park Zoo. It was also originally called the Macy’s Christmas Parade, but was renamed the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1927. 

The Lions And Cowboys Always Play On Thanksgiving

Football is so ingrained in the Thanksgiving holiday that many people think the game is just as important as the turkey. The first NFL football game that took place on Thanksgiving Day was in 1934, when the Detroit Lions played the Chicago Bears. The Lions have played on Thanksgiving ever since, except when the team was called away to serve during World War II, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  The Dallas Cowboys also always play on Thanksgiving. Their first Thanksgiving Day game was held in 1966, and the Cowboys have only missed two games since then. 

Thomas Jefferson Canceled Thanksgiving During His Presidency

George Washington was the first to declare Thanksgiving a holiday, but it was on a year-to-year basis, so presidents had to re-declare it every year, according to The Washington Post. Thomas Jefferson was so adamantly against Thanksgiving that he refused to declare it a holiday during his presidency, and many say that he called the holiday "the most ridiculous idea ever conceived." Most historians agree that Jefferson really refused to declare the holiday because he believed in the separation of church and state, and thought that the day of "prayer" violated the First Amendment. It wasn’t until 1863, when Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a federal holiday, that it was officially scheduled to fall on the fourth Thursday of every November. 

The Origin of Turkey Pardons Is Fuzzy

The White House has a tradition of pardoning one lucky turkey each year. No one actually knows when U.S. presidents began offering their turkeys a presidential pardon. The annual tradition is believed to have begun in 1947 with President Harry Truman. However some historians believe that it actually started in the 1860s with Abraham Lincoln after his son Tad begged him to spare his pet turkey's life. Despite these two theories of the origins of the pardon, George H. W. Bush was the first president to officially grant a turkey a presidential pardon, according to The New York Times. 

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5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Magellan

On November 28th, 1520, Ferdinand Magellan reached the Pacific Ocean after passing through the South American strait that now bears his name. Here are five things you probably didn't know about Ferdinand Magellan.

He Claimed Patagonia Was The Home Of 10-Foot-Tall Giants

Magellan stopped in what is now the Patagonia region of South America while on his round-the-world trip. There, he apparently found what he thought was a giant, dancing on the shore. According to Antonio Pigafetta, a member of Magellan’s voyage who recounted his adventure in a book, Magellan discovered giants in South America “so tall that the tallest of us only came up to his waist.”  In reality, Magellan had encountered the Tehuelche people. Still, Magellan's insistence that these were giants led him to name the region "Patagonia". Some have argued it means “Land of the Big Feet,” from “pata,” Spanish for foot. Regardless, Magellan kidnapped two of them and named them Patagons. To this day, we still call their home Patagonia.

Magellan Was the Target of a Mutiny

Magellan was Portuguese, and he was leading an expedition staffed by Spaniards – and a lot of those Spaniards didn't like that. They were jealous that a position of ultimate authority went to someone from Portugal, of all places (Portugal and Spain were enemies at the time). When the crew reached what is now southern Argentina, three of the Spanish captains plotted to kill him. Long story short, Magellan killed them instead. To show he wasn’t to be messed with, Magellan had their bodies drawn, quartered, and impaled on stakes on shore.

He Named the Pacific Ocean

As Magellan reached what's now the Pacific Ocean, he became amazed at how tranquil it seemed and named the new ocean Mar Pacifico for its peacefulness. However, while that name stuck, it wasn't the first European to reach or name the ocean.  Vasco Núñez de Balboa, who crossed the Isthmus of Panama seven years earlier, had already called it the “South Sea.” 

He Died A Pretty Gory Death

Magellan wasn't just sailing around the world; he was also trying to convert people he found to Christianity. In March 1521, Magellan reached the Philippines and converted some of the chieftains to Christianity. Magellan then moved to convert the ruler of Mactan, Datu Lapu-Lapu. When Lapu-Lapu refused, Magellan decided to kill him. Magellan's crew actually rushed at the Mactan, who fought back immediately. During the resulting battle, Magellan was struck by a bamboo spear by a Mactan warrior, and later surrounded and finished off with other weapons.

Enrique, Not Magellan, May Have Been The First To Circumnavigate The Globe

History books will tell you that Magellan was the first person to lead a circumnavigation around the globe. However, Magellan died before the voyage was complete. Shortly after Magellan’s death, his slave, Enrique de Malacca (a Malaysian slave who was serving as a translator on the journey) managed to free himself and escape. If Enrique succeeded in returning home (and it’s unclear if he did or not), that would mean that he would have been the first person to actually circumnavigate the globe. 

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