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Published:April 1st, 2008 12:45 EST
World Chronicle: April 1

World Chronicle: April 1

By Krzys Wasilewski

*Introducing...the new face of the World Chronicle! Enjoy reading the news of today, along with the stories from our past.

It happened today in Poland…

The creation of a pan-European state is one step closer with the Polish parliament voting through the Lisbon Treaty. Despite fierce opposition from some influential conservative circles– including the former prime minister whose twin brother is the incumbent president– the liberal government, buttressed by the Socialists, managed to garner two thirds of the vote necessary to ratify the treaty. Signed by the representatives of all 27 member states in the Portuguese capital last year, the Lisbon Treaty reforms the European Union by awarding more power to the European Parliament and creating the positions of president and foreign minister who will be responsible for a unified domestic and foreign policy. To take effect, the treaty must be ratified by all member states. Apart from Poland, Great Britain and Ireland are widely regarded as the main obstacles to the ratification process as their societies are skeptical of the European integration.

It happened today in Zimbabwe…

President Robert Mugabe, 84, who has been ruling Zimbabwe for over 25 years, may finally step down. According to the Associated Press, the incumbent’s advisers have been negotiating their boss’s resignation after the Saturday general election was overwhelmingly won by the opposition. An early analysis of the presidential election informs that the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, leads the two-man race, with Mugabe trailing over 20 percent behind him. It means that both politicians will meet again in a runoff, a solution that the opposition is trying to avoid, fearing that the government will try to rig the election. Should Mugabe resign now, he will be a rare example of an African politician leaving his office peacefully. Tsvangirai, however, would have no reasons to celebrate as Zimbabwe’s inflation has reached 100,000 percent and over 60 percent of the population remains jobless.

It happened 84 years ago in Germany…

It was on this day in 1924 that Adolf Hitler, then 35, was put behind bars for five years for organizing the so-called Beer Hall Putsch. In November 1923, the unfulfilled mustachioed painter, together with a bunch of World War I veterans, locked himself in a beer hall in Munich, taking several local notables hostage. The group hoped to repeat the success of Italian fascists – led by grotesque soldier-turned-journalist Benito Mussolini – who had marched their way to power a year earlier. But Munich turned into one of Hitler’s greatest debacles and the future Fuhrer became the source of many jokes and newspaper satires. Of the sentenced five years, Hitler spent only nine months in jail – enough time to write his monumental Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”) and gain the fame of a fascist martyr.

It happened 117 years ago in the U.S. …

On April 1, 1891, the United States of America got a breath of fresh air with the William Wrigley Jr. Company opening its first factory in Chicago, Illinois. Its owner, William Wrigley Jr., was only 29 at the time and his starting capital amounted to no more than $32. Initially, the company produced mainly soap and baking powder, which was sold with a piece of chewing gum. Juicy Fruit and Wrigley’s Spearmint (both now registered trademarks) were introduced two years later and soon were chewed by thousands of Americans across the country. At present, the company has 14 factories all over the world and offers its various products in 180 countries. Its principle says: “Even in a little thing like a stick of gum, quality is important.”

It happened 154 years ago in England…

April 1, 1854, was the day when Charles Dickens printed the first chapter of his controversial novel Hard Times. The fictional town of Coketown with its impoverished citizenry soon became the epitome of newly industrialized England, where many adults and children alike had to accept slavery in order to survive. Dickens was experiencing financial problems himself and this was the main reason why he decided to include chapter I – The One Thing Needful – in his literary weekly magazine, Household Words. Although Hard Times contains witty characters and funny episodes, it is widely regarded as a “passionate revolt against the whole industrial order of the modern world,” as George Bernard Shaw would call it several decades later.

Please send comments to krzys.wasilewski@yahoo.com