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Published:April 22nd, 2008 14:00 EST

World Chronicle: April 22

By Krzys Wasilewski

It happened today in Tbilisi, Georgia...

Tensions on the Georgian border with Russia have intensified after an unmanned Georgian plane was shot down by a Russian fighter. Both planes were over the disputed region of Abkhazia that, although it officially belongs to Georgia, is supported by Moscow and exercises broad independence. Quoted by the Associated Press, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili told his Russian counterpart in a phone conversation on Monday that Moscow must stop interfering in Georgia's domestic affairs. “I categorically demanded that the Russian leadership without delay rescind the illegal judicial actions it has taken ... and halt aggressive attacks on Georgia.” The European Union has refused to comment on the incident, fearing that it could antagonize Russian authorities and complicate the mutual economic relations. Poland and Lithuania, both EU members, announced on Tuesday that if the situation in Georgia intensified, they were ready to leave for Tbilisi to mediate between Georgia and Russia.

 

It happened 63 years ago today in Jasenovac, Croatia...

It was on this day in 1945 that an uprising in the Jasenovac concentration camp broke out. Some 600 worn-out prisoners stood against the heavily-armed guards in an unfair battle; when the fight was over, only 80 prisoners escaped alive. The rest were killed by the camp's authorities. Established in August 1941 by the Independent State of Croatia (a fascist satellite of Hitler's Germany), the camp was guarded by Croatians and ran independently by German authorities. Among its prisoners were mainly Serbs, Jews, Gypsies, and Croats who opposed the Nazi government and lobbied for the alliance with Great Britain. Although the official figures were never released, it is estimated that tens of thousands of people – often executed in the cruelest ways possible – lost their lives behind the camp's barbed wire. The Croatian guards reportedly had a sharp knife tied to their wrists in order to slash prisoners' throats without too much effort. Unconfirmed relations spoke of one guard who killed over 1,000 inmates in that way. Shortly before the end of the Second World War, the camp was destroyed by local antifascist forces.

 

It happened 109 years ago today in Saint Petersburg, Russia...

It's the birthday of Vladimir Nabokov, the author of such novels as “Lolita” and “Bend Sinister.” Born into a rich aristocrat family in Saint Petersburg in 1899, Nabokov was raised in the cosmopolitan atmosphere of tzar's Russia and before he learned his native language he could speak English and French. When the Bolshevik Revolution broke out in 1917, the Nabokov family fled the country and, in 1919, settled in Great Britain. With the Nazi invasion looming large, Nabokov left for the United States where soon his great talent would be discovered. He composed in all three languages, but it is English that gave him international recognition. Compared to Joseph Conrad, who learned the language of Shakespeare in his early 20s, Nabokov masterfully weaved English prose with the Slavic idea of the world. His most recognized work, “Lolita,” was written in 1955. Other famous titles include: “Bend Sinister” (1947), “Transparent Things” (1972), and “A Russian beauty and other stories” (1973). At the last stage of his life, Nabokov moved to Switzerland where he died on July 2, 1976.

 

It happened 144 years ago today in Washington, DC...

The Coinage Act, which introduced the motto “In God We Trust” to coins, was passed today by Congress in 1864. The Civil War had been raging for three years already, continually draining the federal budget and speeding up inflation. The two-cent coin made of copper, tin and zinc was to be an effective remedy for the crumbling economy. As with all new money, also the two-cent coin needed new designs, which in the time of the mortal conflict played an important role in keeping up the national spirit. Designed by Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint James B. Longacre, the obverse displayed a shield with thirteen stripes over which a ribbon carried the motto “In God We Trust.” The words that are now present on all American banknotes and coins were restricted only to the two-cent coin until March 1865 when Congress allowed the U.S. Mint to imprint it on gold and silver coins. The life of the two-cent coin was short and ended only after nine years, in 1973, when only a little over 1,000 were made.

 

If you have any comments or suggestions, please write to: krzys.wasilewski@yahoo.com