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Almanac – April 21

753 BC – Romulus and Remus founded Rome, according to legend.

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571 – Prophet Muhammad  born in Makkah.

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1918 –  German fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, known as “The Red Baron”, was shot down and killed over Vaux-sur-Somme in France.

He was considered the top ace of  WWI, being officially credited with 80 air combat victories.

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1934 – The “Surgeon’s Photograph”, the most famous photo allegedly showing the Loch Ness Monster, was published in the Daily Mail, supposedly taken by Robert Kenneth Wilson, a London gynaecologist.

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1970 – The Hutt River Province Principality seceded from Australia.

The oldest micronation in Australia, the principality claims to be an independent sovereign state having achieved legal status on 21 April 1972, although it remains unrecognised except by other micronations.

The principality is located 517 km (354 mi) north of Perth, near the town of Northampton. If considered independent, it is an enclave of Australia.

The principality was founded Leonard George Casley when he and his associates proclaimed their secession from the state of Western Australia.

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2003 – Nina Simone died. American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist widely associated with jazz music.

Simone aspired to become a classical pianist while working in a broad range of styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop.

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Almanac – February 21

1848 – Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published The Communist Manifesto.  It has since been recognized as one of the world’s most influential political manuscripts.

Commissioned by the Communist League, it laid out the League’s purposes and program. It presents an analytical approach to the class struggle (historical and present) and the problems of capitalism, rather than a prediction of communism’s potential future forms.

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1933 – Nina Simone born.  American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist.

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1965 – Malcolm X assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City by members of the Nation of Islam.  As he prepared to address the Organization of Afro-American Unity , a disturbance broke out in the 400-person audience—a man yelled, “Nigger! Get your hand outta my pocket!”

 As Malcolm X and his bodyguards moved to quiet the disturbance, a man seated in the front row rushed forward and shot him once in the chest with a double-barreled sawed-off shotgun.  Two other men charged the stage and fired semi-automatic handguns, hitting Malcolm X several times.  He was pronounced dead at 3:30 pm, shortly after he arrived at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.

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Almanac – February 20

1757 – John ‘Mad Jack’ Fuller born. Squire of the hamlet of Brightling, in Sussex and  well known as a builder of follies, including a pyramid-shaped building (pictured below), often referred to as “The Pyramid“,  which was erected in the churchyard of the Church of St. Thomas à Becket in Brightling  as his own mausoleum.

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1927 – Sidney Poitier born. In 1963, he became the first black person to win an Academy Award for Best Actor  for his role in Lilies of the Field.

The significance of this achievement was later bolstered in 1967 when he starred in three successful films: To Sir, with Love; In the Heat of the Night; and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, making him the top box-office star of that year.

In all three films, issues revolved around the race of the characters Poitier portrayed. In 1999, the American Film Institute named Poitier among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time, ranking 22nd on the list of 25.

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1936 – Max Schreck died.  German actor,  most often remembered today for his lead role in the film Nosferatu (1922), in which he portrayed Count Orlok, Count Dracula effectively, but name changed for copyright reasons, and gave a truly creepy performance.

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1953 – Poison Ivy Rorschach born.  Guitarist, songwriter, arranger, producer, and occasional vocalist who co-founded the American garage punk band The Cramps.

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2005 – Hunter S. Thompson died. American author and journalist who  became known internationally with the publication of Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (1967), for which he had spent a year living and riding with the Angels, experiencing their lives and hearing their stories first hand.

Previously a relatively conventional journalist, with the publication in 1970 of “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved” he became a counter cultural figure, with his own brand of New Journalism he termed “Gonzo”, an experimental style of journalism where reporters involve themselves in the action to such a degree that they become central figures of their stories.

The work he remains best known for is Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream (1972), a rumination on the failure of the 1960s counterculture movement.

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