Witches Night – Walpurgisnacht

April 30

Now to the Brocken the witches ride;
the stubble is gold and the corn is green;
There is the carnival crew to be seen,
And Squire Urianus will come to preside.
So over the valleys our company floats,
with witches a-farting on stinking old goats.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust

Exactly six months before Halloween, the Germans and Scandinavians celebrate Walpurgis Night, May-Eve, Beltane, or Hexennacht, aka Witches’ Night.

According to legend, on the last night of April, witches would meet at Hexentazplatz (Witches’ Dancing Place, conveniently named in case you got lost and had to ask a tourist) near the town of Thale in northern Germany. From there they would fly upon broomsticks to the highest point in the Harz Mountains, a summit called “The Brocken.”

At the Brocken there they would dance with the devil, a horned he-goat demon named Lord Urian, who would grant them mystical powers…for a price. Scarier than even the orgiastic rituals of Walpurgis Night, is the unholy marriage of Google-translation and the German language in describing this event:

“On the chunk of dance legend after all witches in a large circle around the fire and then the devil kiss the butt. Then you can have with the devil marry and receive from him magic powers.”

Don’t be Frightened!

OK, be a little frightened. For centuries, tales spread of sordid revels atop the Harz Mountains. To this day, the Brocken is haunted by the spirits of angry tourists who felt cheated having yet to encounter a single supernatural event.

There are many reasons this mountaintop became synonymous with the dark legends of Deutschland. Its inaccessible height and remote location for one—okay, that’s two actually. Also, the region wasn’t settled until after 1000 AD. (That’s the German equivalent of 1950 in America.) And perhaps most important, the Brocken is the site of an unusual and eerie optical illusion known as the Brockengenspenst, or the “Brocken spector.”

“As the sun sinks, the shadow of a walker cast from a ridge becomes magnified and an enormous silhouette appears on low-lying clouds or mist banks below the mountain. Although it’s only a shadow, the distant “specter” appears to be walking at the same pace, doggedly tracking the observer’s path.”

— Season of the Witch – Walpurgisnacht in Germany’s Harz Mountains

In other words, in the centuries before the meteorological sciences, many a Brocken hiker were spooked by their own shadows. At least one visitor was literally frightened to death.

Germany may not have been the birthplace of the witch, but it did propagate the image of the witch as we know it today, through its literature, legends, and its ‘litigation’:

“Between 1623 and 1633, the prince-bishops of two Bavarian towns, Wƒrzburg and Bamburg, ordered the burning of at least fifteen hundred “witches” between them. The victims of Wƒrzburg’s bishop included his own nephew, nineteen priests, and a child aged seven. One reason why medieval Germany developed an obsession with stamping out “witchcraft” may lie in the food that was being eaten. If the weather is warm and damp, rye (then a staple crop) can produce a poisonous fungus called ergot. Hallucinations, fits, pinpricking sensations, muscle spasms: the symptoms of ergotism are similar to the effects of LSD, which itself is derived from ergot.”

Witches of the Harz Mountains

Walpurgis got its name from an 8th century saint. Walpurgis had nothing to do with witches, but April 30 was her feast day. In the Church’s effort to Christianize Germany’s tenacious pagan roots, they made Walpurgis Night about Walpurgis’ fight with the dark forces of paganism.

Yet still the pagan rituals continue to this day…

Walpurgis Night, the time is right
The ancient powers awake.
So dance and sing, around the ring
And Beltane magic make.

Doreen Valiente, Witchcraft for Tomorrow

Brocken postcard

Brocken “Money” – a tourist gimmick from the 1920s

Brocken postcard collection from the late 19th/early 20th century.



Everybody Dance Now – International Dance Day

April 29

Today’s International Dance Day, which is celebrated on April 29, believe it or not, because of this guy.

Stuffy as he looks, Jean-Georges Noverre could apparently cut a rug in his day. He began dancing professionally at age 16 and wrote his first ballet at 20. He danced in Paris, London, Vienna and Strasbourg, and was head of the Paris Opera Ballet until his boss, Marie Antoinette, lost her own head. Noverre was allowed to keep his, but the French Revolution ended his career and reduced him to poverty.

When times were good he hung with the likes of Mozart, Voltaire, and Frederick the Great. His ideas revolutionized ballet. He believed a dancer’s personality is part of performance, rather than the one-size-fits-all training technique commonly taught. He believed all dances and movements must be integrated into the story, character and theme, and did away with superfluous numbers.

Criticizing the masks traditionally worn in Paris ballet that hid dancers’ genuine expressions, he wrote, “Destroy the masks and we shall gain a soul.”

So tonight, put on your red shoes, your dance shoes, your boogie shoes, turn on the red light, get down, make love, let it all hang out, and shake it like a polaroid picture.

No mask necessary.

Workers Memorial Day

April 28

Today is a National Day of Mourning in Canada. Not for those killed in wars or natural disasters, but for those who made the fatal mistake of showing up to work.

Internationally the day is known as Workers Memorial Day. The date April 28 was chosen because it’s the anniversary of Canada’s Workmen’s Compensation Act, passed in 1914, which created the predecessor of today’s Workplace Safety & Insurance Board.

A random sampling of Canadians found that most had never heard of the National Day of Mourning, an effort by the Canadian Labour Congress to spread awareness of workplace safety. However, spokesperson Terry O’Connor believes the lack of safe working conditions is a growing problem in Canada.

“Canada continues to have one of the highest workplace fatality rates of any Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development country…In 2006, the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada reported 976 workplace fatalities in Canada, compared to 805 workplace fatalities in 1996 — an 18 per cent increase in a 10-year period.”

South of the border, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that fatal accidents on the job have declined since 1994 by 14%, while the number of people in the workforce has increased by the same amount. The most dangerous jobs in North America?

  • 10. Agricultural workers
  • 9. Truck Drivers/Drivers
  • 8. Roofers
  • 7. Electrical power line repairers
  • 6. Farmers & Ranchers
  • 5. Refuse collectors/recyclers
  • 4. Steel workers
  • 3. Loggers
  • 2. Pilots
  • And #1?


Yes, that crab you bite into comes a steep price, and we’re not just talking money. The occupational-fatality rate for commercial fishing is over 20 times the national average.

17 Minutes That Changed America

Overall North American working conditions have greatly improved since Upton Sinclair wrote his scathing look at America’s meatpacking industry in The Jungle over 100 years ago. His aim was to raise awareness of the plight of exploited workers, many of them women and children in dangerous conditions for long hours and for the lowest of wages.

But the reading public cared more about what was going into their hot dogs (hint: you thought soylent green was nasty?…) than for the workers’ plight. When foreign sales of American meat products declined by 50%, Washington established the Food and Drug Administration to improve the food industry’s appalling standards.

It would take 146 deaths in a single day to spark outcry for legislation that would improve workplace safety.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Company, the “largest blouse-making operation in New York,” was located on Washington Place and Greene Street in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Each day 500 workers, mostly young immigrant girls, crowded into the factory. At 4:40 pm on March 25, a bin under a wooden desk on the eighth floor caught fire (most likely from a tossed cigarette).

When workers first spotted the flame they tried to put it out with water, but the scraps of cotton fabric in the bin—more flammable than paper—turned the flame into a conflagration within seconds. Panic struck the workers, and…

“those clustered at the Greene Street partition stampeded into the small opening, pushing and shouting and wrestling toward the stairway. Behind them, others in the factory saw this pileup and ran toward the opposite corner of the room, where they bottlenecked at the Washington Place elevators…”

One worker on the 8th floor managed to reach the secretary and swicthboard operator on the 10th floor via telephone.

Most of the tenth floor executive staff escaped by climbing onto the roof and into a taller adjacent building. But when the switchboard operator left her post, there was no way to call and warn the 9th floor workers, since all calls had to be routed through the 10th floor.

Of the 146 victims, 140 worked on the ninth floor.

Fire blocked the stairwell. The one flimsy fire escape collapsed. The owners had locked the ninth floor doors from the outside to make sure the girls didn’t steal.

The doors opened inward, so by the time they were unlocked, the doors were impossible to open because of the weight of dozens of screaming employees crushed against them, trying to escape.

The fire hoses on the top floors lacked adequate water pressure. The weight of escapees in the elevator immobilized the unit. One girl survived by jumping down the elevator shaft, landing atop the elevator on its last trip.

Over fifty workers jumped out the windows of the 9th floor rather than be consumed by fire. When the last one jumped to her death it was 4:57.

These tragic seventeen minutes–and the furor that followed–laid the foundation for sweeping changes in the labor movement that continue to protect workers to this day.

Below is a list of those killed in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in 1911. It was compiled by David Von Drehle, author of Triangle: The Fire That Changed America.

  • Lizzie Adler, 24
  • Anna Altman, 16
  • Anna Ardito, 25
  • Rosie Bassino, 31
  • Vincenza Bellota, 16
  • Ignazia Bellotta,
  • Vincenza Benenti, 22
  • Essie Bernsetin, 19
  • Jacob Bernstein, 28
  • Morris Bernstein, 19
  • Gussie Bierman, 22
  • Abraham Binevitz, 20
  • Rosie Brenman
  • Surka (Sarah) Brenman
  • Ida Brodsky, 16
  • Sarah Brodsky, 16
  • Ida (Ada) Brooks, 18
  • Laura Brunette, 17
  • Frances Caputto, 17
  • Josephine Carlisi, 31
  • Albina Caruso, 20
  • Josie Castello, 21
  • Rosie Cirrito, 18
  • Anna Cohen, 25
  • Antonia (Annie) Colletti, 30
  • Dora Dochman, 19
  • Kalman Downic, 24
  • Celia Eisenberg, 17
  • Rebecca Feibisch, 17 or 18
  • Yetta Fichtenhultz, 18
  • Daisy Lopez Fitze, 24
  • Tina Frank, 17
  • Rosie Freedman, 18
  • Molly Gerstein, 17
  • Celina Gettlin, 17
  • Esther Goldstein, 20
  • Lena Goldstein, 23
  • Mary Goldstein, 18
  • Yetta Goldstein, 20
  • Irene Grameatassio, 24
  • Bertha Greb, 25
  • Dinah Greenberg, 18
  • Rachel Grossman, 17
  • Rosie Grosso, 16
  • Esther Harris, 21
  • Mary Herman, 40
  • Esther Hochfield, 22
  • Fannie Hollander, 18
  • Pauline Horowitz, 19
  • Ida Jakofsky, 18
  • Augusta (Tessie) Kaplan, 18
  • Becky Kappelman, 18
  • Ida Kenowitz, 18
  • Becky Kessler, 19
  • Jacob Klein, 28
  • Bertha Kuhler, 20
  • Tillie Kupfersmith, 16
  • Sarah Kupla, 16
  • Benjamin (Benny) Kuritz, 19
  • Annie L’Abbato, 16
  • Fannie Lansner, 21
  • Mary Laventhal, 22
  • Jennie Lederman, 20
  • Nettie Lefkowitz, 23
  • Max Lehrer, 22
  • Sam Lehrer, 19
  • Kate Leone, 14
  • Rosie Lermarck, 19
  • Jennie Levin, 19
  • Pauline Levine, 19
  • Catherine Maltese, mother of Lucy & Sara
  • Lucia (Lucy) Maltese, 20
  • Rosaria (Sara) Maltese, 14
  • Maria Manara, 27
  • Bertha Manders, 22
  • Rose Manofsky, 22
  • Michela (Mechi) Marciano, 20
  • Yetta Meyers, 19
  • Bettina Miale, 18
  • Frances Miale, 21
  • Gaetana Midolo, 16
  • Becky Nebrerer, 19
  • Annie Nicholas, 18
  • Nicolina Nicolosci, 21 or 22
  • Annie Novobritsky, 20
  • Sadie Nussbaum, 18
  • Julia Oberstein, 19
  • Rose Oringer, 20
  • Becky Ostrowsky, 20
  • Carrie Ozzo, 22
  • Annie Pack, 18
  • Providencia Panno, 43
  • Antonietta Pasqualicca, 16
  • Ida Pearl, 20
  • Jennie Pildescu, 1
  • Millie Prato, 21
  • Becky Reivers, 19
  • Emma Rootstein
  • Israel Rosen, 17
  • Julia Rosen, 35, mother of Israel
  • Louis Rosen, 38
  • Yetta Rosenbaum, 22
  • Jennie Rosenberg, 21
  • Gussie Rosenfeld, 22
  • Nettie Rosenthal, 21
  • Theodore (Teddy) Rothner, 22
  • Sarah Sabasowitz, 17
  • Serephina (Sara) Saracino, 25
  • Teraphen (Tessie) Saracino, 20
  • Gussie Schiffman, 18
  • Theresa (Rose) Schmidt, 32
  • Ethel Schneider, 30
  • Violet Schochep, 21
  • Margaret Schwart, 24
  • Jacob Selzer, 33
  • Annie Semmilo, 30
  • Rosie Shapiro, 17
  • Beryl (Ben) Sklaver, 25
  • Rosie Sorkin, 18
  • Gussie Spunt, 19
  • Annie Starr, 30
  • Jennie Stellino, 16
  • Jennie Stern, 18
  • Jennie Stiglitz, 22
  • Samuel Tabick, 18
  • Clotilde Terdanova, 22
  • Isabella Tortorella, 17
  • Mary Ullo, 26
  • Meyer Utal, 23
  • Freda Velakowsky, 20
  • Bessie Viviano, 15
  • Rose Weiner, 23
  • Celia (Sally) Weintraub, 17
  • Dora Welfowitz, 21
  • Joseph Wilson, 21
  • Tessie Wisner, 21
  • Sonia Wisotsky, 17
  • Bertha Wondross, 18

A covered pier had to be converted to a makeshift morgue to make room for the bodies.

The factory’s owners were charged with manslaughter.

And were acquitted.

Freedom Day – South Africa

April 27

Today is Freedom Day in South Africa, a country that doesn’t take freedom for granted. Freedom Day celebrates South Africa’s first democratic elections, held on this day in 1994.

Voting began on April 26, for the elderly, the ill, and pregnant women. The general election was held from April 27 to April 29, and was open to all South Africans 18 and older, regardless of race. Prior to the election, non-whites had limited voting rights. Under the apartheid system that ruled the country since 1948, voting was essentially restricted to white South Africans.

That’s not to say there were free elections before 1948. The Dutch East India Company established the first “refreshment station” on the Cape in 1652. In the 19th century, British settlers arrived in increasing numbers, and black rights gradually eroded.  Blacks and Indians were excluded from government in 1910, when the Union of South Africa was formed. Later laws required black South Africans to carry special passbooks and banned them from owning property outside of certains “reserves”. These reserves made up only 13% of the land area of South Africa, despite the fact that blacks made up an overwhelming majority of South Africa’s population.

After the National Party came to power in 1948, several laws restricted rights even further: the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act of 1949, the Immorality Act of 1950, the Population Registration Act, and the Group Areas Act, which forced black South Africans to move out of neighborhoods that were designated as “white only”.  Future laws segregated virtually every aspect of South African life, from elementary schools to swimming pools.

Signs of Apartheid - Durban Beach, 1989
Sign of Apartheid, 1989

No one event brought about the end of Apartheid. The struggle combined international pressure from both governments and corporations, economic sanctions, internal boycotts, and other forms of resistance. Apartheid laws fell one by one, the African National Congress was reinstated as a legal organization, and in 1990 Nelson Mandela was released from prison.

Mandela became the first black President of South Africa after the election of 1994. He was inaugurated on May 10. Every year since, South Africa has celebrated April 27 as Freedom Day.

This year’s Freedom Day celebrations “happen on the eve of the biggest sporting event, the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup, which will for the first time take place on African soil.” — Gauteng province to host the Freedom Day national celebrations

[For Americans: Soccer is a big sport in much of the world outside the States. Much like basketball except it’s played outdoors on grass and players can’t use their hands.] Like many new holidays, traditions are still being formed:

“The only thing I’m not sure about is how we are supposed to celebrate Freedom Day. I know and respect everything associated with the day but for me it is just a public holiday where I chill and do whatever. On the odd occassion, I will watch SABC 2 to hear and see what rallies are happening…”

Celebrating Freedom Day – www.justcurious.co.za

Others call April 27 “unFreedom Day”, using the holiday to comment on the sharp divide between the rich and poor still all-too evident in South Africa.

“There are many in South Africa who feel that Freedom Day is a cruel joke which attempts to gloss over the true social concerns of citizens. Abahlali baseMjondolo, which means “shack dwellers” in isiZulu, is an intellectual movement formed in early 2005 in Durban, South Africa. To counteract Freedom Day, a day that actually reminds the poor in South Africa just how un-free they are, Abahlali spread the realities of UnFreedom Day through educational discussions, meetings and creative expression in films and music. UnFreedom Day has also begun to take on a positive meaning, a reminder of just how strong and united the movement has become.”

Alex J. Hyatt – unFreedom Day in South Africa

Freedom Day: 27 April

South Africa Split on Freedom Day

Confederate Memorial Day

April 26

“Spring comes early in the Gulf States, and April 26 has been made Confederate Memorial Day by Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and Georgia.

North and South Carolina have selected May 10.

“In Tennessee, the second Friday in May has been made Confederate Day.

Virginia keeps Confederate Memorial Day on May 30.

“So that as the spring advances, there are several observances of memorial day, beginning with the lower South, and following on, in the later spring, of States to the North, until Virginia and at the national capital both sides honor their departed heroes upon the same day.”

The South’s Care for her Confederate Veterans – William H. Glasson, American Monthly Review of Reviews, 1907

Confederate Memorial Day remembers the Confederate soldiers of the American Civil War, and is the predecessor of the national Memorial Day holiday. It’s observed on different dates throughout the South. In some states it’s a statutory holiday; it others it’s a holiday by proclamation.

Georgia law, for example, obliges the governor to proclaim a holiday on either January 19, April 26, or June 3 (Confederate Memorial Day in Georgia). Meanwhile, Mississippi observes Confederate-related holidays on the Mondays closest to all three of those dates.

Why January 19, April 26, and June 3?

January 19: the birthday of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. From 1983 to 2000, Virginia combined Lee’s birthday and General “Stonewall” Jackson’s birthday with, ironically enough, the national holiday of Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday (January 15) to form Lee-Jackson-King Day.)

June 3: the birthday of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

April 26: the anniversary of the single largest surrender of Confederate troops in 1865…General Johnson’s surrender to General Sherman at Durham Station, North Carolina.

The End of the Civil War

Johnson’s surrender on April 26 was neither the first nor the last surrender of the Civil War.

General Lee had already surrendered at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on April 9, 1865.

Jefferson Davis, meanwhile, wasn’t captured until May 10. (Also the anniversary of the 1863 death of “Stonewall” Jackson.

And technically, the last surrender wasn’t until November 6, when the crew of the CSS Shenandoah (who didn’t receive word of the war’s end until August) arrived in Liverpool, England. (They didn’t want to surrender to the Yanks.)

But General Johnson’s surrender entailed the Army of Tennessee as well as all active forces in Georgia, Florida, and the Carolinas. Nearly 90,000 soldiers in all.

+  +  +

The impetus for Confederate Memorial Day, and Memorial Day in general, came from Ladies Memorial Associations, which grew out of women’s groups that supported the troops and cared for the wounded during the war.

According to the Encyclopedia of the American Civil War:

“The first LMAs assumed the grisly task of overseeing the reinterment of Southern soldiers from mass graves to individual graves in newly designated Confederate cemeteries… These same same women originated Confederate Memorial Day, an annual observance held each spring that paid homage to the soldiers who had died for the Southern cause.”

By 1865, it had become a tradition to decorate the graves of the fallen soldiers with flowers.

As early as 1867 a song entitled Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping” was dedicated to “The Ladies of the South Who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead.”

Kneel where our loves are sleeping
They lost but still were good and true
Our fathers, brothers fell still fighting
We weep, ’tis all that we can do

Several towns claims to have held the first Decoration Day ceremonies, on or around the first anniversary of Johnson’s surrender, including two towns named Columbus.

In Columbus, Mississippi, a group of women who were decorating the graves of Confederate soldiers also stopped to place flowers on the neglected graves of Union soldiers. The event made national news.

In Columbus, Georgia, meanwhile…

“The ladies are now and have been for several days engaged in the sad, but pleasant duty of ornamenting and improving that portion of the City Cemetery sacred to the memory of our gallant Confederate dead, but we feel it is an unfinished work unless a day be set apart annually for its especial attention…

“Therefore, we beg the assistance of the press and the ladies throughout the South to aid us in the efforts to set apart a certain day to be observed, from the Potomac to the Rio Grande, and be handed down through time as a religious custom of the South, to wreathe the graves of our martyred dead with flowers; and we propose the 26th day of April as the day…

“…the veriest radical that ever traced his genealogy back to the deck of the Mayflower, could not refuse us the simple privilege of paying honor to those who died defending the life, honor and happiness of the Southern Women.”

Mrs. Charles Williams, Ladies Memorial Association, March 12, 1866 (History of the Confederate Memorial Associations of the South)

To this day, in accordance with Georgia law stated above, Georgian state workers get this day off, although not all are of one mind. Writes one blogger:

“Who knew the honor of Southern women was at stake during the Civil War?

“As a black woman,  I don’t really subscribe to celebrating the Confederacy in any way, shape, or form.  So I thought about showing up for work in protest, but then… I decided instead that I am going to celebrate my FREEDOM and reflect on my ancestors who endured the Middle Passage, slavery, and the Civil Rights Movement.”

Either way, the song rings true.

Here we find our noble dead
Their spirits soar’d to him above
Rest they now about his throne
For God is mercy, God is love
Then let us pray that we may live
As pure and good as they have been
That dying we may ask of Him
To ope the gate and let us in

— “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping”, 1867

Origin of Confederate Decoration Day – from the files of Alan Doyle

The Deadliest Creature on Earth

April 25

Statistically, you’re more likely to be struck by lightning, crushed by a vending machine, or flattened by falling airplane parts than to be killed by a shark.

In terms of deadliest animals, sharks barely make the top ten and are superseded by the vicious jellyfish (100 human deaths per year) and hippopotami (200 DPY).

Clocking in at #7 are lions (250)
#6 Bees (400)
#5 Elephants (600)
#4 Crocodiles (2000)
#3 Scorpians (5000)
#2 Snakes (100,000)

But the death toll of all these murderers together wouldn’t be a tenth of Public Health Enemy #1:

Weighing in at 2.5 milligrams and half an inch in length, the Mosquito kills 2 to 5 million people each year, from one disease alone: Malaria.

Today on World Malaria Day (formerly Africa Malaria Day) organizations such as WHO are getting the word out about the leading cause of premature mortality in the world. In sub-Saharan Africa, malaria consumes four out of every ten public health dollars, and one out of every five children in sub-Saharan countries will die of malaria before their fifth birthday. 3000 every day.

A Harvard study in the year 2000 found that, had Malaria been eliminated 35 years earlier, the GDPs of Central and Southern African nations would be 30% higher today.

The vast majority of the infected are children in Africa, but the disease also effects South and Central America, the Indian subcontinent, and Southern Asia.

What can we do about it?

From 1992 to 2006, despite medical advances with other diseases, malaria infection and mortality rates actually increased, as strains of malaria became resistant to drugs such as chloroquine. Once cheap and readily-available, chloroquine is now ineffective in half of Africa’s malaria cases.

There are no vaccines proven effective against malaria. And though prophylactic drugs are available, the best forms of prevention today are still the simplest. Mosquito netting around beds and mosquito repellant are two.

It’s estimated that it would take $3 billion a year to eradicate Malaria. Not a chunk of change anyone wants to part with, but still less than the amount spent each week on the war in Iraq.

On the other hand, in the past two years the President’s Malaria Initiative, a $1 billion+ initiative focusing on preventive treatment in children under 5 and pregnant mothers, has helped to reduce new cases of malaria across 15 African nations.

A recent shark attack in San Diego made national headlines yesterday. The attack was horrifying and tragic, no doubt.

But imagine if the same attention were paid to each of the million+ fatal animal attacks each year by the common mosquito…

Or if we could see the devastation of a 9/11-size catastrophe, 3000 people dead from malaria, every single day

The resources devoted to solving such a crisis would be bottomless. But we don’t hear about it in the news precisely because it happens every day.

Malaria once terrorized Europe and America as it now does Africa. On April 25th we imagine a day when Malaria Day memorializes those millions killed from the eradicated disease, rather than the 3000 who will die today.

President Talks About Malaria in Hartford, Conn.

UN Launches World Malaria Day

Drive Against Malaria

Malaria Free Future


April 25

Last month the nation of Turkey remembered Victory of Canakkale, the World War I campaign that unified the Turkish spirt and brought together disparate elements that would form the Turkish nation.

But for every victor there’s the vanquished.

The Allies of World War I, including the French, British, Indian, Australian and New Zealanders, suffered a quarter million casualties in the Dardanelles (Canakkale) campaign. At the forefront of the battle, the soldiers of Australia and New Zealand took a disproportional brunt of the death and disease that characterized the fight.

ANZAC stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps. ANZAC Day falls on the anniversary of the landing of the first Australian and New Zealand troops on April 25, 1915 on the Gallipoli Peninsula on Turkey’s Aegean coast. The assault was ill-planned and inadequately supplied.

The Turks entrenched themselves on the high ground pouring artillery and machine gun fire down upon the hapless Australian, New Zealand, Irish, French and British troops below.The battleground soon resembled that of the Western Front – both sides peering at each other from fortified trenches, forced to spill their precious blood in futile frontal attacks on well defended positions. — eyewitnesstohistory.com/gallipoli.htm

In the aftermath of Gallipoli a rift widened between the two southern hemisphere countries and the British Empire they had been proud to be a part of. Resentment grew against Allied commanders for the ill-conceived attack that led Australians and New Zealanders like lambs to the slaughter, and for the motives involved in using Australian and New Zealand troops to invade the far-off lands.

About 40 per cent of all Australian males aged between 18 and 45 voluntarily enlisted to serve in the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF), that is about 417,000 men, of whom about 60 000 died in all campaigns and another 160,000 were wounded or maimed. — Geoffrey Partington, Gallipoli – the Facts Behind the Myths

[Still, Partington clarifies, “the British, French and Indian causalities were far greater than those of the Anzacs,” and “the British bore the brunt of the fighting – and the losses.”]

ANZAC Day is one of the most important holidays in both Australia and New Zealand, observed as Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day.

“On Anzac Day, we remember not only the original Anzacs who died on April 25, 1915, but every one of our service men and women who have served and died in all wars, conflicts, peacekeeping, disaster relief and humanitarian assistance missions,” — Australia Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston

For the record, Victory of Canakkale is no celebration in Turkey. It’s also known as “Martyrs’ Day”. The Turks suffered even more casualties than the Allies, around 300,000, in the brutal Dardanelles campaign alone. Today, the monuments and memorials of Gallipoli serve as a grim reminder that in war even the winners pay the price.

ANZAC Memorial, Sydney. Photo by Matthew Lammers


Armenian Genocide

April 24


“If a man is killed in Paris, it is a murder; fifty thousand throats are cut in the East and it is a question.” –Victor Hugo

Hugo died 30 years before the Armenian Genocide of 1915, but his quote could be applied to it—just multiply by thirty.

The Armenian Genocide has been called the first genocide of the twentieth century.

In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire entered World War I, and immediately met crushing defeats against the Russians to the north. Blaming the losses on Armenian traitors, the government conscripted mass numbers of Armenian men, removed them of their weapons, and forced them into labor camps.

The reason April 24 is chosen to memorialize the dead, is because on April 24 over 200 of the most prominent Armenian leaders and intellectuals were rounded up and arrested. Up until then Armenian arrests and executions had not been widely reported.

The following month the government announced the Temporary Deportation Law which allowed for the temporary relocation of anyone deemed a threat to national security. In September the Temporary Law of Expropriation and Confiscation expanded their authority: land, livestock, homes, and belongings of Armenians was to become government property.

The Armenians were taken to deserts, concentration camps, and other remote locations by the hundreds of thousands. Men, women, and children were either left to starve or executed.

The Turkish government today disputes the numbers of those killed, and the extent of government involvement, claiming for example, that many of the deaths were the result of poor farming weather that coincided with the relocation.

News of the atrocities were reported in the West at the time, and even the Ottoman’s allies during WWI, Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, expressed concern over the mass deportations and executions of the Ottoman Empire’s Christians.

Years later a German statesman would ask, “Who after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

But he didn’t say it out of pity. It was Adolf Hitler, speaking to his generals, using it as a justification for the future invasion of Poland and the Jewish Holocaust.

April 24

Armenians Are Sent to Perish in Desert – Turks Accused of Plan to Exterminate Whole Population – People of Karahissar Massacred – NY Times – Aug. 18, 1915

Nothing Personal / Among the Deniers

Obama Avoids G-word, Brands Armenian Killings a “Great Atrocity”– 2009