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Milestones: Tuesday, August 29, 2023

August 29, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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SPY DELIVERED U.S. ATOMIC SECRETS — THE SOVIET UNION SUCCESSFULLY DENOTED its first atomic bomb, codenamed “First Lightning,” on Aug. 29, 1949, from a remote test in Kazakhstan. As preparation, Soviet scientists constructed an entire “city” of buildings, bridges and other civilian edifices near the test site. They also brought mammals — in what would now be considered extreme animal cruelty — in order to observe the effects of the bombing on life forms. The bomb’s explosion, at 20 kilotons, incinerated the animals and destroyed everything in its vicinity. Just days later, a U.S. spy plane detected evidence of radioactivity. President Harry S. Truman eventually told the American public that the Soviet Union now had the bomb.

An investigation of this test bombing led to the arrest of German-born physicist Klaus Fuchs, who had helped U.S. scientists build their atomic bombs but was really on the Soviet side. Fuchs had passed U.S. nuclear secrets with detailed and exact information about the United States’ atomic program. 

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AMONG WORST NATURAL DISASTERS — Hurricane Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29, 2005, near New Orleans, Louisiana, as a Category 3 hurricane. The third most powerful storm of that year’s hurricane season, Katrina was counted among the worst natural disasters in U.S. history. During the hurricane, more than 50 levees and floodwalls protecting the New Orleans area failed, causing widespread flooding. Katrina, whose name was retired from the roster that the National Hurricane Center releases at the onset of a new season, caused more than 1,800 deaths and up to $150 billion in damages to both private property and public infrastructure and displaced a million people. Worldwide news media reports revealed that the majority of Hurricane Katrina’s victims were African American, and some tough questions were raised about the federal government’s commitment to standing by her constituents.

The public debated whether racial equality had truly been nascent in the U.S.; and President George W. Bush and the federal government were rebuked vehemently for their slow response.

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AMISTAD REBELLION — A group of 53 Africans who had been abducted from their homeland near modern-day Sierra Leone rebelled against the crew of the ship Amistad — ironically named for a synonym of friendship — which was transporting them across the Atlantic. After having been taken to Cuba, the Africans took control of the ship, killing some of the crew. The surviving crew members secretly changed course and landed near Montauk Point, Long Island on Aug. 29, 1839, after an almost two-month ordeal. The U.S. federal government, whose laws defined the human occupants as “property,” treated them as cargo. However, a group of abolitionists entreated former U.S. President John Quincy Adams to bring the Amistad slaves’ case to the U.S. Supreme Court where in March 1841, they were deemed free and permitted to return to Africa.

On the other side of the court case was President Martin van Buren, whom Spain was pressuring to return the slaves to them; and he arranged to have them fraudulently documented as Spanish-speaking Ladinos. However, the Supreme Court ruled that international treaties did not apply to slaves.

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WON OSCARS FOR ‘GANDHI’ — SIR RICHARD ATTENBOROUGH, whose centennial birthday would have been Aug. 29, 2023, was a British actor and filmmaker born on this date in 1923. Attenborough’s most-famous film, Gandhi, won Best Film and Best Director Oscars for him (as producer and director). He also directed the movies “A Bridge Too Far,” “Cry Freedom,” and “Shadowlands,” among others and appeared as a major character, Judge Cannon, in the 1974 adaptation of the Agatha Christie mystery, “And Then There Were None.”

Sir Richard Attenborough was knighted in 1976. He died Aug. 24, 2014, at London, England, five days before his 91st birthday. His brother, David Attenborough, at 97, is a British broadcaster, scientist and author.

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SCANDALOUS INGÉNUE — SWEDISH ACTRESS INGRID BERGMAN, whose beauty and mystique enraptured the world, was born on Aug. 29, 1915 and died on her birthday in 1982. Bergman (who was reputedly no relation to the Swedish movie director Ingmar Bergman) was already a film star in Sweden before making her first Hollywood movie, with director David O. Selznick, appearing in his 1939 film. “Intermezzo: A Love Story.” She was also famous for her role as Ilse Lund “Casablanca,” with Humphrey Bogart and Paul Henreid (which won Best Picture in 1942); and “Bells of St. Mary’s.” She received an Academy Award nomination for her role in “For Whom the Bell Tolls”; and she won three Oscars: Best Actress for “’Gaslight” in 1944 and “Anastasia” in 1956, and as Best Supporting Actress in ”Murder on the Orient Express” in 1974.

The otherwise even-tempered — and married — actress created tempest around her during her scandalous affair with, and pregnancy by, Italian director Roberto Rossellini, She got a sharp rebuke in the U.S. Senate and was compelled to stay out of the U.S. for years. She died of cancer on her 67th birthday.

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CRAZY HORSE MOUNTAIN — THIS IS THE NAME THAT A GROUP OF 23 NATIVE American activists on Aug. 29, 1970, gave to Mount Rushmore, after climbing atop the monument and holding ground for two months. They renamed the site as Crazy Horse Mountain, in honor of the Lakota Sioux leader who famously resisted white Americans’ incursions into the area. The activists were also reclaiming land that they asserted was rightfully theirs under the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, which had guaranteed Indigenous people the right to all of Western South Dakota. The 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie was intended to end hostilities between the United States government and the Lakota, Yanktonai Dakota and Arapaho Nation, granting them the Black Hills and lands west of the Missouri River in what comprises half of South Dakota.

However, the federal government had a hidden agenda: pressuring the Native Americans to forsake their way of life for farming; assimilating the native peoples into white culture and eliminating tribal jurisdiction over their reservation. A gold rush obliterated the treaty, as hordes of prospectors took over the land and claimed it for themselves.

See previous milestones, here.


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