Wikipedia:Today's featured article/December 2016

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December 1
Malurus leucopterus ssp. leuconotus

The white-winged fairywren (Malurus leucopterus) is a bird species in the family Maluridae, unrelated to true wrens. It lives in the drier parts of central Australia, from central Queensland and South Australia to Western Australia. Like other fairywrens, this species displays marked sexual dimorphism, and one or more males of a social group grow brightly coloured blue plumage during the breeding season. The females, sandy-brown with light-blue tail feathers, are smaller, and almost indistinguishable from the younger sexually mature males. A subspecies is found on Dirk Hartog Island, and another on Barrow Island off the coast of Western Australia, both having black rather than blue male plumage. The white-winged fairywren mainly eats insects, and lives in heathland and arid scrubland. It is a cooperative breeding species, and small groups of birds maintain and defend territories year-round. Groups consist of a socially monogamous pair with several helper birds who assist in raising the young. As part of a courtship display, the male wren plucks petals from flowers and brings them to female birds. (Full article...)


December 2
Migration of the Serbs

Migration of the Serbs is a set of oil paintings by the artist Paja Jovanović that depict the Great Serb Migration of 1690–91. The first was commissioned in 1895 by Georgije I, the Patriarch of Karlovci, intended for the following year's Budapest Millennium Exhibition. In the view of the Serbian clergy, the painting was to support Serb claims to religious autonomy and partial self-administration in Austria-Hungary. The Patriarch was dissatisfied with Jovanović's initial rendering and asked the artist to adjust his work to conform with the Church's view of the migration. Jovanović could not complete the revision in time, and the painting was not shown at the Exhibition. Three of the original four paintings survive, at the patriarchate building of the Serbian Orthodox Church and at Princess Ljubica's Residence, both in Belgrade, and at the Pančevo Museum. Migration of the Serbs holds iconic status in Serbian popular culture, and several authors consider it one of Jovanović's finest achievements. (Full article...)


December 3
Union Station in 2015

Union Station is an Amtrak railroad station and commercial building in downtown Erie in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. It is the only stop in Pennsylvania for the Lake Shore Limited, a passenger rail line serving Chicago, New York City, and Boston. The first railroad station in Erie, established in 1851, was replaced with a Romanesque Revival-style building in 1866. Union Station, the first Art Deco depot in the U.S., was dedicated on December 3, 1927. Passenger rail service dwindled after World War II, as air and highway travel increased. The station was jointly owned and operated by the New York Central and Pennsylvania railroads, which merged to form Penn Central, and passenger rail service was transferred to Amtrak in 1971. From 1972 to 1975, even Amtrak service in Erie was suspended. Union Station was largely neglected and allowed to decay until the freight management company Logistics Plus bought it in 2003. Since then, it has been restored and portions re-purposed as commercial and retail space. (Full article...)


December 4
C-17 Globemaster A41-209 at Canberra Airport

In Australian service, Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft are operated by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). To improve the Australian Defence Force's (ADF's) ability to operate outside Australia, eight were ordered from 2006 to 2014; the first arrived in Australia on 4 December 2006. Three more entered service by January 2008, two more by November 2012, and the last two by November 2015. All eight Globemasters are assigned to No. 36 Squadron and operate from RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland. The aircraft have supported ADF operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations in the Middle East, as well as training exercises in Australia and the United States. They have also transported supplies and personnel as part of relief efforts following disasters in Australia, Japan, New Zealand and several other countries. Their acquirement process was seen as exemplary of good practice in defence procurement. C-17s are highly regarded throughout the Australian military for their ability to carry large amounts of cargo across long distances. (Full article...)


December 5
Walt Disney

Walt Disney (December 5, 1901 – December 15, 1966) was an American entrepreneur, animator, voice actor and film producer. A pioneer of the American animation industry, he holds the record for the most Academy Awards earned by an individual (22), out of 59 nominations. He set up the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio with his brother Roy in the 1920s, and had his first big success with the character Mickey Mouse. As the studio grew, he introduced synchronized sound, better cameras, and full-color three-strip Technicolor, as seen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Fantasia, Pinocchio (both 1940), Dumbo (1941) and Bambi (1942). In 1955 he opened the Disneyland theme park and diversified into television programs, including The Mickey Mouse Club. He helped plan the 1959 Moscow Fair, the 1960 Winter Olympics, and the 1964 New York World's Fair. In 1965 he began work on Disney World and a concept he called the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT). Disney was a shy and self-deprecating man in private, but adopted a warm and outgoing public persona. The company he cofounded exists today as one of the world's largest and best-known entertainment companies. (Full article...)


December 6
Amanita ocreata mushrooms

Amanita ocreata, one of the death angels or destroying angels, is a deadly fungus native to California and the North American Pacific Northwest. The large fruiting bodies (mushrooms) generally appear in spring, associating with oak trees. The stalk, ring, gills and volva are white, and the cap may be white or ochre, often developing a brownish centre. It can resemble the edible springtime amanita (A. velosa), coccora (A. lanei) or stubble rosegill (Volvariella speciosa), but is similar in toxicity to the death cap (A. phalloides) and to the destroying angels of Europe (A. virosa) and eastern North America (A. bisporigera). Its principal toxic constituent, α-amanitin, damages the liver and kidneys, and has no known antidote. The initial gastrointestinal symptoms, including abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting, subside after two or three days. Ongoing damage to internal organs can cause jaundice, diarrhea, delirium, seizures, coma, and in many cases, death from liver failure 6 to 16 days after ingestion. (Full article...)


December 7
USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) lead ship of the Pennsylvania-class battleship, behind two wrecked destroyers in Drydock One at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, soon after the end of the Japanese air attack

The Pennsylvania class consisted of two super-dreadnought battleships, Pennsylvania and Arizona, named after American states. They were the newest American capital ships when the United States entered the First World War, but saw limited use at the time. During the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, both ships were present. Arizona suffered a massive magazine explosion and sank with the loss of 1,177 officers and crewmen; the remains now lie beneath a memorial site that attracts more than two million visitors annually. Pennsylvania, in dry dock at the time, received only minor damage; it spent most of the war as a shore bombardment ship before participating in the October 1944 Battle of Surigao Strait, the last battle ever between battleships. Pennsylvania was severely damaged by a torpedo on 12 August 1945, the day before the cessation of hostilities. With minimal repairs, it was used in Operation Crossroads, part of the Bikini atomic experiments, before being expended as a target ship in 1948. (Full article...)


December 8

Ernie Toshack (8 December 1914 – 11 May 2003) was an Australian cricketer who played in 12 Tests from 1946 to 1948. He made his first-class debut in 1945 as a left-arm medium paced bowler; his accuracy, stamina, changes of pace, and movement in both directions confounded batsmen. After only seven matches in the Sheffield Shield domestic competition, he was selected for Australia's tour of New Zealand. In Wellington, he opened the bowling in a match that was later classed as an official Test match. He became a regular member of the Australian team, playing in all of its Tests until the 1947–48 series against India; he took a career-best 11 wickets for 31 runs in the First Test but began to suffer recurring knee injuries. As a member of Don Bradman's Invincibles team, which went undefeated on a tour of England in 1948, Toshack played in the first four Tests before being injured again. After a long convalescence, he attempted a comeback during Australia's 1949–50 season, but further injury forced him to retire. As a player, he was popular with crowds for his sense of humour. (Full article...)

Part of the Australian cricket team in England in 1948 series, one of Wikipedia's featured topics.


December 9
Frost's bolete

Exsudoporus frostii, Frost's bolete, is a fungus first described in 1874. The mushrooms it produces have tubes and pores instead of gills on the underside of their caps. E. frostii is distributed in the eastern United States from Maine to Georgia and Arizona, and south to Mexico and Costa Rica. It is typically found associating with hardwood trees, especially oak. Its mushrooms can be recognized by their dark red sticky caps, the red pores, the network-like pattern of the stem, and a variable blue-staining reaction after tissue injury. Another characteristic of young, moist fruit bodies is the amber-colored drops exuded on the pore surface. Although the mushrooms are considered edible, they are generally not recommended for consumption because of the risk of confusion with other poisonous red-pored, blue-bruising boletes. E. frostii may be distinguished from other superficially similar red-capped boletes by differences in distribution, associated tree species, bluing reaction, or morphology. (Full article...)


December 10
Fantastic Adventures, October 1940

Fantastic Adventures was an American pulp fantasy and science fiction magazine, edited by Ray Palmer and published from 1939 to 1953 by Ziff-Davis. It was almost cancelled at the end of 1940, but the October 1940 issue had unexpectedly good sales, helped by a strong cover (pictured) by J. Allen St. John for Robert Moore Williams' Jongor of Lost Land. Fantastic Adventures soon developed a reputation for light-hearted and whimsical stories. The cover art usually focused on melodramatic action scenes; H.W. McCauley's covers, featuring glamorous, alluring women, were among the most popular. In 1949 Palmer was replaced by Howard Browne, who was knowledgeable and enthusiastic about fantasy fiction. Browne briefly managed to improve the quality of the fiction in Fantastic Adventures, and the period around 1951 has been described as the magazine's heyday. Browne lost interest when his plan to take Amazing Stories more upmarket collapsed, however, and the magazine fell back into predictability. In 1952, Ziff-Davis launched another fantasy magazine, titled Fantastic, in a digest format; it was successful, and in March 1953 they ended Fantastic Adventures in favor of Fantastic. (Full article...)


December 11
George Mason

George Mason (December 11, 1725 – October 7, 1792) was a Virginia planter, politician, and delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, one of three men who refused to sign. He served in the pro-independence Fourth Virginia Convention of 1775 and the Fifth Virginia Convention of 1776, during which he wrote much of the Virginia Declaration of Rights; this later served as a basis for the Bill of Rights, of which he has been deemed the father. Named one of his state's delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Mason traveled to Philadelphia, his only lengthy trip outside Virginia, and was active in the convention for months before deciding he could not sign the final draft. Although he lost his fight to add a bill of rights there, and again at the Virginia Ratifying Convention of 1788, his efforts led his fellow Virginian James Madison to introduce one during the First Congress in 1789, and it was ratified in 1791, a year before Mason died. Long obscure, Mason is today recognized for his contributions to the founding texts of Virginia and the United States. (Full article...)


December 12
Map of Hydrus

Hydrus is a small constellation in the deep southern sky. Its first appearance was on a celestial globe published in 1598 in Amsterdam by the astronomer Petrus Plancius and the cartographer Jodocus Hondius. The first celestial atlas to depict it was Johann Bayer's Uranometria, in 1603. The French explorer and astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille charted the brighter stars and gave their Bayer designations in 1756. Its name means "male water snake", as opposed to Hydra, a much larger constellation that represents a female water snake. Hydrus remains below the horizon for most Northern Hemisphere observers. The brightest star is the 2.8-magnitude Beta Hydri, also the brightest star within 15° of the south celestial pole. Pulsating between magnitude 3.26 and 3.33, Gamma Hydri is a variable red giant some 60 times the diameter of our Sun. Near it is VW Hydri, one of the brightest dwarf novae in the heavens. Four star systems have been found to have exoplanets to date, including HD 10180, which might bear up to nine planetary companions. (Full article...)


December 13
Ike Altgens, c. 1970

Ike Altgens (April 28, 1919 – December 12, 1995) was an American photojournalist, photo editor and field reporter for the Associated Press (AP) who took two photographs that circulated worldwide after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (JFK). Altgens was 19 when he began his AP career, which was interrupted by military service during World War II. When his service time ended, he returned to Dallas, Texas, got married, and went back to work for the local AP bureau, eventually earning a position as a senior editor. He was on assignment for the AP when he captured two historic images on November 22, 1963. The second photo, showing First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy toward the rear of the presidential limousine and Secret Service agent Clint Hill on its bumper, was reproduced on the front pages of newspapers around the world. Within days, Altgens' preceding photo became controversial after people began to question whether it showed accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in the main doorway of the Texas School Book Depository as the gunshots were fired at JFK. (Full article...)


December 14

"Under the Bridge" is a song by the American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, released in 1992 as the second single from the group's fifth studio album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Vocalist Anthony Kiedis wrote the lyrics to express feelings of loneliness and despondency, and to reflect on the impact of narcotics on his life. He was reluctant to show his bandmates the lyrics, which were more emotional than the Chili Peppers' usual style, but producer Rick Rubin insisted. The band was receptive, and wrote the music. The song peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. The accompanying video was frequently played on music television channels, and won the Viewer's Choice and Breakthrough Video awards at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards. The band's growing popularity overwhelmed guitarist John Frusciante, who temporarily left them the same year. The song is now considered a standard of the alternative rock movement of the early and mid-1990s, and has been cited as an inspiration by many artists. (Full article...)

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December 15

The Yugoslav torpedo boat T1 was a sea-going vessel operated by the Royal Yugoslav Navy between 1921 and 1941. Launched on 15 December 1913 as a 250t-class torpedo boat for the Austro-Hungarian Navy under the name 76 T, she was armed with two 66 mm (2.6 in) guns and four 450 mm (17.7 in) torpedo tubes, and could carry 10–12 naval mines. The vessel performed anti-submarine operations and convoy, escort and minesweeping tasks during World War I. She was escorting the dreadnought SMS Szent István when that ship was sunk by Italian torpedo boats in June 1918. Following Austria-Hungary's defeat, the torpedo boat was allocated to what became the Royal Yugoslav Navy. During the German-led Axis invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941, the vessel was captured by the Italians. She served with the Royal Italian Navy, but was returned to the Royal Yugoslav Navy-in-exile following the Italian capitulation in September 1943. She was commissioned by the Yugoslav Navy after World War II and, after a refit, served as Golešnica until 1959. (Full article...)

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December 16
Self-Portrait, 1887

Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890) was a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter. His early works, mostly still lifes and depictions of peasant labourers, contain few signs of the vivid colour that distinguishes his later work. In 1886 he moved to Paris where he met members of the avant-garde, including Émile Bernard and Paul Gauguin, who were reacting against the Impressionist sensibility. As Van Gogh's work developed he created a new approach to still lifes and local landscapes. In the south of France in 1888, he turned to painting olive trees, cypresses, wheat fields and sunflowers, using brighter colours. Selling only one painting during his lifetime, he was considered a madman and a failure, and committed suicide at 37. His reputation began to grow in the early 20th century as Fauvists and German Expressionists took up elements of his painting style. He has attained widespread critical and popular acclaim, and is remembered as an important but tragic painter. His works are among the world's most expensive paintings. (Full article...)


December 17

Final Fantasy XIII is a science fiction role-playing video game, initially released by Square Enix for PlayStation 3 on December 17, 2009, and later for Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, and mobile devices. This edition in the series includes a new character-development system, as well as the return of summoned monsters, the chocobo race, and airships. The former soldier Lightning begins her fight along with a band of allies to save her sister from both the government and a deadly fate as an unwilling servant to a god-like being. Final Fantasy XIII is the first game to use Square Enix's Crystal Tools engine and is the flagship title of the Fabula Nova Crystallis collection of games. It received mostly positive reviews from video game publications for its graphics, presentation, and battle system. The game's story received a mixed response, and its linearity was criticized. Selling 1.7 million copies in Japan in 2009, Final Fantasy XIII became the fastest-selling title in the history of the series. It sold over 7 million copies overall and led to two sequel games. (Full article...)


December 18

John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan (b. 18 December 1934), known as Lord Lucan, disappeared without trace in 1974. Born in Marylebone, he attended Eton College and served with the Coldstream Guards, later becoming a professional gambler. Lucan had expensive tastes; he raced power boats and drove an Aston Martin. In 1963 he married Veronica Duncan, with whom he had three children, but the marriage collapsed in 1972 and he moved out of the family home in Belgravia. He lost a bitter custody battle, began to spy on his wife and children, and incurred gambling losses. In November 1974 the children's nanny, Sandra Rivett, was murdered in the basement of the Lucan family home. Lady Lucan was also attacked and she identified Lucan as her assailant. As the police investigated, Lucan drove to a friend's house in East Sussex; hours later, he left and was never seen again. The car was found with a blood-stained interior and a lead pipe similar to one found at the crime scene in its boot. A warrant for his arrest was issued, but despite hundreds of reported sightings, he has not been found and as of 2016 is legally presumed dead. (Full article...)


December 19
David Lynch in 2009
David Lynch

Mulholland Drive is a 2001 American neo-noir mystery film written and directed by David Lynch (pictured) and starring Justin Theroux, Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Ann Miller, and Robert Forster. It tells the story of an aspiring actress named Betty, newly arrived in Los Angeles, who befriends an amnesiac woman hiding in an apartment that belongs to Betty's aunt. The film includes seemingly unrelated vignettes that eventually interlock, along with darkly comic scenes and images, presented in Lynch's signature surreal style. Much of the filming took place in 1999 as a television pilot. After it was rejected by television executives, Lynch gave the pilot an ending and completed the project as a feature film. The cryptic ending, which he declined to explain, has left the general meaning of the film's events open to interpretation. Mulholland Drive was acclaimed by critics and earned award nominations for Lynch at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival and 74th Academy Awards. The film is now widely regarded as one of his finest works. (Full article...)


December 20

Strepsirrhini is a suborder of primates that includes lemurs from Madagascar, bushbabies and pottos from Africa, and lorises from India and southeast Asia. Also included are the extinct adapiform primates, a diverse and widespread group that thrived during the Eocene in Europe, North America, and Asia, but disappeared from most of the Northern Hemisphere as the climate cooled. Characterized by their wet nose or rhinarium, strepsirrhines have diversified to fill many ecological niches. They have a smaller brain than comparably sized simians, large olfactory lobes for smell, and a vomeronasal organ to detect pheromones. Their eyes contain a reflective layer to improve their night vision. Nearly all extant strepsirrhines have a toothcomb, a specialized set of teeth in the lower front part of the mouth, mostly used for combing fur during grooming. Strepsirrhines are primarily tree-dwelling, feeding on fruit, leaves, and insects. Many are endangered by habitat destruction, poaching for bushmeat, and live capture for the exotic pet trade. (Full article...)


December 21
Poster advertising the film
Film poster

Lieutenant Kijé is music by Sergei Prokofiev originally written to accompany the film of the same name, produced by the Belgoskino film studios in Leningrad and released in 1934 (poster pictured). It was his first attempt at film music, and his first commission from within the Soviet Union; he had lived abroad since the 1917 October Revolution. In the early days of sound cinema, among the distinguished composers ready to write film music, Prokofiev was not an obvious choice for the commission. Based in Paris for almost a decade, he had a reputation, at odds with the cultural norms of the Soviet Union, for experimentation and dissonance. Nevertheless, he was anxious to return to his homeland, and saw the film commission as an opportunity to write music in a more accessible style. After the film's successful release, he adapted the music into what became a popular orchestral suite, his Op. 60. First performed on 21 December 1934, it became part of the international concert repertoire, and one of the composer's best-known and most frequently recorded works. Elements of its score were used in several later films, and in two popular songs of the Cold War era. (Full article...)


December 22
Andrew Sledd

Andrew Sledd (1870–1939) was an American theologian, university professor and university president. A native of Virginia, he was ordained as a Methodist minister after earning his master's degree; he later earned a doctorate at Yale. After teaching for several years, Sledd became the last president of the University of Florida at Lake City from 1904 to 1905, and the first president of what is now the University of Florida from 1905 to 1909. He was president of Southern University from 1910 to 1914, and became a professor and an influential biblical scholar at Emory University's Candler School of Theology from 1914 to 1939. Bibliographies highlight his 1902 magazine article advocating better legal and social treatment of African Americans, his role in founding the modern University of Florida, his scholarly analysis of biblical texts as literature, his call for an end to racial violence, and his influence on a generation of Methodist seminary students, scholars and ministers. (Full article...)


December 23
General Sir Francis Richard Dannatt in 2007

Richard Dannatt (born 23 December 1950) is a retired senior British Army officer who served as the Constable of the Tower of London from August 2009 to July 2016. He was commissioned into the Green Howards in 1971, and his first tour of duty was in Belfast as a platoon commander. During his second tour of duty, Dannatt was awarded the Military Cross. He commanded 4th Armoured Brigade in 1994 during its peace operations in Bosnia. In 1999 he simultaneously commanded 3rd Mechanised Division and the British forces in Kosovo. After a brief tour in Bosnia, he was appointed Assistant Chief of the General Staff. Following the attacks of 11 September 2001, Dannatt became involved in planning for subsequent operations in the Middle East. As Commander of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps from 2003, he led the planning for their deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He was appointed Chief of the General Staff in 2006, succeeding Sir Mike Jackson. Calling for improved pay and conditions for soldiers, less military focus on Iraq, and more on Afghanistan, Dannatt faced controversy over his outspokenness. (Full article...)


December 24
Maya Angelou at the 1993 inauguration of President Bill Clinton
Maya Angelou

Themes in Maya Angelou's autobiographies include racism, identity, family, and travel. Angelou (1928–2014), an African-American writer, achieved critical acclaim for her first of seven autobiographies, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969). That book and the second in the series, Gather Together in My Name (1974), are about the lives of Black women in America. Her autobiographies all have the same structure, a narrative of how she coped within the larger white society she inhabited. In her third autobiography, Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas (1976), she showed the integrity of the African-American character as she experienced more positive interactions with whites. The series continues with The Heart of a Woman (1981), All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986), A Song Flung Up to Heaven (2002), and Mom & Me & Mom (2013). Angelou's autobiographies take place from Arkansas to Africa and back to the US, and span almost thirty years, from the start of World War II to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Full article...)

Part of the Maya Angelou series, one of Wikipedia's featured topics.


December 25
Hebron Church

Hebron Church is a mid-19th-century Lutheran church in Intermont, Hampshire County, in the U.S. state of West Virginia. It was founded in 1786 as Great Capon Church by German settlers in the Cacapon River Valley, making it the first Lutheran church west of the Shenandoah Valley. The congregation worshiped in a log church, which initially served both Lutheran and Reformed denominations. In 1821, records and sermons transitioned from German to English. The church's congregation built the present Greek Revival-style church building in 1849, when it was renamed Hebron on the Cacapon. The original log church was moved across the road and used as a sexton's house, Sunday school classroom, and public schoolhouse. To celebrate the congregation's 175th anniversary in 1961, Hebron Church constructed a building for community functions and religious education, designed to be architecturally compatible with the 1849 brick church. Hebron Church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014, cited as a Potomac Highlands church with vernacular Greek Revival architecture. (Full article...)


December 26
Satellite image of Tropical Storm Vamei

Tropical Storm Vamei was a Pacific tropical cyclone, the last storm of the 2001 Pacific typhoon season. On December 26 the storm developed into a tropical depression about 230 km (145 mi) east of Singapore in the South China Sea at 1.4° N, 156 km (97 mi) north of the equator. This was the first recorded occurrence of a tropical cyclone developing near the equator, which had previously been considered impossible because of a lack of Coriolis effect there. It strengthened quickly and made landfall the next day approximately 60 km (35 mi) northeast of Singapore, along extreme southeastern Peninsular Malaysia. The storm rapidly dissipated over Sumatra a day later, and the remnants eventually re-organized in the North Indian Ocean. Though officially designated as a tropical storm, the intensity of Vamei is disputed; some agencies classify it as a typhoon, based on sustained winds of 140 km/h (85 mph) and the appearance of an eye. The storm brought flooding and landslides to eastern Peninsular Malaysia, causing US$3.6 million in damage and five deaths. (Full article...)


December 27
Port Jackson fig

Ficus rubiginosa, the Port Jackson fig, is a species of flowering plant native to eastern Australia. Beginning as a seedling that grows on other plants (hemiepiphyte) or rocks (lithophyte), it matures into a tree 30 m (100 ft) high and nearly as wide with a yellow-brown buttressed trunk. The leaves are oval and glossy green and measure from 4 to 19.3 cm (1 127 12 in) long and 1.25 to 13.2 cm (125 14 in) wide. The fruits are small, round and yellow, and can ripen and turn red at any time of year, peaking in spring and summer. The fruit is known as a syconium, an inverted inflorescence with the flowers lining an internal cavity. F. rubiginosa is exclusively pollinated by the fig wasp species Pleistodontes imperialis. Many species of bird, including pigeons and parrots, eat the fruit. Ranging along the Australian east coast from Queensland to Bega in southern New South Wales, F. rubiginosa grows in rainforest margins and rocky outcrops. It is used as a shade tree in parks and public spaces, and when potted is well-suited for use as an indoor plant or in bonsai. (Full article...)


December 28

Pain fitzJohn (died 1137) was an Anglo-Norman nobleman and administrator, one of King Henry I of England's "new men", the ones who owed their positions and wealth to the king. Pain's family originated in Normandy, but there is little to suggest that he had many ties there, and he appears to have spent most of his career in England and the Welsh Marches. A son of a minor nobleman, he rose to become an important royal official during Henry's reign. In 1115 he was rewarded with marriage to an heiress, thereby gaining control of the town of Ludlow and its castle, which he augmented with further acquisitions. He became the sheriff in two counties near the border between England and Wales, and heard legal cases as a royal justice in much of western England. He was generous in his gifts of land to monastic houses. After Henry's death in 1135 Pain supported Henry's nephew, King Stephen. In July 1137 Pain was ambushed by the Welsh and killed as he was leading a relief expedition to the garrison at Carmarthen. (Full article...)


December 29
Mackenzie King, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill at the Quebec Conference, 18 August 1943
King, Roosevelt and Churchill at the Quebec Conference

The Montreal Laboratory in Montreal, Canada, was established by the National Research Council of Canada during World War II to undertake nuclear research in collaboration with the United Kingdom. After the Fall of France, some French scientists escaped to Britain with their stock of heavy water, and joined the British Tube Alloys project to build an atomic bomb. In 1942, it was decided to relocate the work to Canada. The Montreal Laboratory was established in a house belonging to McGill University, but moved to the Université de Montréal in March 1943. The first laboratory staff arrived at the end of 1942. John Cockcroft became director in May 1944. In August 1943, Mackenzie King, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill (pictured) negotiated the Quebec Agreement, which merged Tube Alloys with the Manhattan Project. Work moved to the Chalk River Laboratories, which opened in 1944, and the Montreal Laboratory was closed in July 1946. Two reactors were built at Chalk River: the small ZEEP, which went critical in September 1945, and the larger NRX, which followed in July 1947, and was for a time the most powerful research reactor in the world. (Full article...)


December 30

"No Me Queda Más" ("There's Nothing Left for Me") is a song by American recording artist Selena for her fourth studio album, Amor Prohibido (1994). Written by Ricky Vela and produced by Selena's brother A.B. Quintanilla, it was released as the third single from the album in October 1994 by EMI Latin. It is a downtempo mariachi and pop ballad that portrays a woman who wishes the best for her former lover despite her own agony. Praised by music critics for its raw emotion, "No Me Queda Más" was one of the most successful singles of Selena's career, topping the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart for seven non-consecutive weeks. It was the Song of the Year at the 1995 Broadcast Music Awards and became the most successful US Latin single of 1995. Billboard magazine ranked it ninth on a list of Tejano recordings. A music video, shot in San Antonio's Amtrak station, received the Music Video of the Year award at the Billboard Latin Music Awards. Many musicians have recorded cover versions, including Mexican singer Pepe Aguilar, American salsa singer Tito Nieves, and Mexican pop group Palomo. (Full article...)


December 31
Eisenhower dollar, obverse

The Eisenhower dollar is a one-dollar coin issued from 1971 to 1978 by the United States Mint. Authorized by law on December 31, 1970, it was the first US dollar coin minted since 1935, the last year of the Peace dollar. Designed by Frank Gasparro, the coin's obverse depicts President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who died in March 1969. Proposals in Congress to honor him on a coin led to a dispute over whether the new coin was to contain silver. In 1970, a compromise was reached to strike it in base metal for circulation, and in 40% silver as a collectible. Although the collector's pieces sold well, the new dollars failed to circulate, except in and around Nevada casinos, where they took the place of privately issued tokens. Coins from 1975 and 1976 bear a double date, 1776–1976, and a special reverse by Dennis R. Williams in honor of the Bicentennial. To replace the Eisenhower dollar with a smaller-sized piece, Congress authorized the Susan B. Anthony dollar, struck beginning in 1979, but that coin also failed to circulate. (Full article...)

Part of the United States Bicentennial coinage series, one of Wikipedia's featured topics.

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