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Published:April 3rd, 2008 12:54 EST
World Chronicle: April 3

World Chronicle: April 3

By Krzys Wasilewski

It happened today in Bucharest, Romania…

Albania and Croatia received an official invitation today to join NATO. Another Balkan country that was expected to start formal negotiations, Macedonia, was turned down due to Greece’s objections. The government in Athens considers the name Macedonia as derogatory to its history since Macedonia was an important part of ancient Greece and now is one of the country’s regions. At the same NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania, the United States won member states’ approval of an anti-missile shield that Washington plans to deploy in Poland and the Czech Republic. The latter also announced today that it had reached the final agreement with the United States concerning the shield. So far the Bucharest conference has been a series of American victories. First, President George W. Bush acquired France’s pledge to send more troops to Afghanistan. Then, NATO issued a declaration saying that Ukraine and Georgia would become members one day. Finally, for the first time in many years, the summit will be attended by a Russian President; Vladimir Putin is expected in Bucharest Thursday evening.

It happened today in Tokyo, Japan…

A Nigerian serving in the U.S. Army was arrested today outside of Tokyo. The 22-year-old Olatunbosun Ugbogu is accused of stabbing a taxi driver to death on March 19, near the naval base where he was stationed. The American ambassador to Japan was summoned to the Japanese foreign ministry, following the arrest. The incident is yet another one in a recent series of crimes committed by U.S. soldiers serving in Japan. In February a Marine was detained after a teenage school girl accused him of abducting and raping her in his car. The allegations prompted a wave of massive protests in Tokyo and other major cities. Although the charges were dropped, the anti-American sentiment is on the rise in Japan.

It happened 60 years ago in Washington, DC…

It was on this day in 1948 that President Harry Truman signed the European Recovery Plan, dispensing some $16 billion to war-devastated Europe. The money helped the Old Continent recover and gave the American economy a boost which lifted the United States to the richest country in the world. Apart from economic aid, the plan also linked both sides of the Atlantic and united them against the Socialist Bloc. Although dubbed the Marshall Plan after the then Secretary of State George Marshall, the document was a result of months of heated debates within the State Department. Among people who designed the plan were Under Secretary of State Dean Acheson (who would soon succeed Marshall), former Ambassador to the Soviet Union Averell Harriman, and George Kennan – the diplomat responsible for drafting the policy of containment.

It happened 86 years ago in Moscow, the Soviet Union…

Very few people expected that Joseph Stalin, who was nominated the general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party on April 3, 1922, would soon become the unquestionable leader of the Soviet Union. The surly politician from Georgia accepted the low-profile post as a consolation prize since neither Vladimir Lenin nor any of his closest aids wanted Stalin at the center of power. Undaunted, Stalin began to cultivate some precious friendships with prominent apparatchiks and, working behind the scenes, he managed to accumulate a number of important offices. When Lenin died in 1924 (the reasons of his death still confuse historians), Stalin had no qualms about finishing off – literally and figuratively – Lenin’s nominees and, within four years, he held the entire power in his hand.

It happened 126 years ago in St. Joseph, Missouri…

Jesse James, the notorious Confederate guerilla, robber and murderer, was shot on this day in 1882, by the only man he trusted, Bob Ford. Far from being a law-abiding citizen himself, Ford was lured by a $4,000 reward offered for James’s head. When Missouri officials learned about the incident, they first tried Bob and his brother, Charley, and sentenced them to death. But hours before the execution, the state governor issued a pardon, saving the brothers from joining Jesse James – wherever his soul was wandering. Despite living only 35 years, Jesse James became the legend of post Civil War America. His numerous crimes, ranging from bank robberies to plain murders, proved a catchy topic of newspaper articles, novels, and even comic books.

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