During World War II, partisan groups arose in the forests of eastern Europe. Often small bands, they were desperate people who hoped that by retreating to the forests and keeping their numbers small, they could survive Nazi occupation and potentially use guerrilla warfare to help weaken the Nazis in their area. Most were not Jewish. Most were locals who wanted to resist the occupation of their homelands.
Some number of the groups were Jewish, however. There were many reasons separate Jewish partisan groups arose, but one notable reason was anti-semitism. Jews in non-Jewish partisan groups often hid their religion for fear of their countrymen turning on them.
Norman Salsitz, for example, used seven non-Jewish identities while fighting the Nazis in two partisan groups. At the second and larger one, the AK Polish Underground, a command was given to seek out and kill Jews being hidden on a farm. The AK Polish Underground took time from fighting Nazis to kill Jews hiding from the Nazis. Let that sink in.
Norman Salsitz volunteered for the mission. He killed the Poles who had been sent with him, and rescued the Jews in hiding. He then returned to his first partisan group. It was smaller and less effective, but they did not ask him to murder innocents, for the crime of being Jewish.
On March 10, 1799, the Ottoman city of Jaffa (in what is today Israel) fell to Napoleon and his French troops. The general ordered his men to slaughter several thousand men in the city’s garrison that had been taken prisoner, mainly Albanians. Napoleon viewed this as justice for the Ottomans killing French messengers sent to Jaffa. Today it would be a war crime.
In fact, his sense of humor greatly facilitated his sustained relations with the testy [Secretary of War Edwin M.] Stanton and the pompous [Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P.] Chase. For instance, when a delegation, which he had sent to Stanton with orders to grant their request, returned and reported that not only had Stanton refused to do so, but had actually called Lincoln a fool for sending such an order, Lincoln, with mock astonishment, inquired: “Did Stanton call me a fool?” – and, upon being reassured upon that point, remarked: “Well, I guess I had better go over and see Stanton about this. Stanton is usually right.”
Quoted from "Lincolns Humor" and Other Essays, by P. B. Thomas
When workers constructing a rail line south of Sydney discovered a trove of Aboriginal artifacts, archaeologists at first were baffled. Many of the stone tools were crafted from flint, which is not native to the area. A subsequent investigation concluded that the flint was actually chemically identical to samples found along the Thames River in London. The flint cobbles were likely loaded onto ships in England for ballast and then discarded in Australia, where they were repurposed by Aboriginal artisans.
The ancient Roman god, also known as Dionysus, does not have a good image today. His name is linked to drunkeness, excess, madness. But the ancients did not see him as one-sided. He was the god of losing one's inhibitions. But he was also the god of getting together. Ancient nicknames included Bacchus the Liberator, Bacchus the Saviour, and Bacchus the God Who Gives Men's Minds Wings. Those do not sound all bad, right?
Bacchic cults were banned in Roman times, because their members held allegiance to "a parallel state," but at the same time, Roman leaders have quotes on how fantastic it is that conquered populations enjoy Roman wine so much -- it makes them easier for Rome to control. To the ancients Bacchus was an ambiguous god, both beneficial and harmful.
The first country in the world to abolish the death penalty for all crimes was Venezuela, in 1863. It is still in their constitution!
Former American president Lyndon Johnson averaged only 3 to 4 hours of sleep a night and worked most of the rest; his wife once said, “Lyndon acts as if there is never going to be a tomorrow.” He would sleep from 1 am or 2 am to 5 am, work until lunch, then take a brief nap around 2 or 3 pm, before working until the early hours of the morning. These "double days" were exhausting for everyone who worked with him. And they were probably a political advantage for Johnson, who could get more work done in a day than his opponents.
He once called a congressman at 3 a.m. to discuss a piece of pending legislation. When Johnson asked, “Were you asleep?” the congressman thought quickly and said, “No, Mr. President, I was just lying here hoping you’d call.”
Humans have theorized about other galaxies and distant planets for centuries. But it was only in 1992 that the first exoplanet -- a planet outside our Solar System -- was discovered. That's after the original Star Trek and Star Wars both finished!
The ancient Sumerians are known for having created one of the earliest agricultural civilizations in the world. A new discovery in southern Iraq suggests they also conducted some of the earliest maritime trade.Remains of brick ramparts, docks, and an artificial basin created to be the town's port have been found at the site of Abu Tbeirah since 2016. That suggests they knew how to build boats and fish, at least. But what about maritime trade?
At the same site, researchers found some unusual artifacts that show the ancient Sumerians almost certainly had long-distance contacts, likely by sea. Vases made of alabaster, a stone not found in Mesopotamia. Carnelian beads from India. A necklace in the style of the Indus River Valley; the Indus River Valley civilization flourished at the same time as Sumer.
Ancient Sumerian texts mainly talk about agriculture, and little about maritime trade. The is understandable. Agriculture required the most organization, and effort by the state. Archaeology is uncovering a relatively hidden aspect of ancient Sumerian life. They had farmers, yes, but also sailors.
In 2010, Bhutan became the first country to totally ban tobacco and tobacco products.