Wikipedia:Today's featured article/July 2021

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July 1

John Early biretta.png

John Early (July 1, 1814 – May 23, 1873) was a Catholic priest and Jesuit who held several prominent positions in American academia. Born in Ireland, he emigrated to the United States in 1833 and was educated in Maryland and Washington, D.C. After he began ministering, he was appointed the president of the College of the Holy Cross in 1848. In 1852, he founded St. Ignatius Church and Loyola College in Baltimore to educate the lay former students of St. Mary's Seminary and College. Early left in 1858 to become the president of Georgetown University, which operated through the Civil War despite being commandeered several times by the Union Army. In 1866, Early returned to Loyola College as president, where he restarted the conferral of degrees following the war. He finally returned to Georgetown in 1870 as president and oversaw the first years of the Law Department. He died in 1873. (Full article...)


July 2

Platycercus caledonicus - Melaleuca.jpg

The green rosella (Platycercus caledonicus) is a parrot native to the Australian state of Tasmania and some Bass Strait islands. The species was described by the German naturalist Johann Friedrich Gmelin in 1788. At up to 37 cm (14.5 in) long, it is the largest species in its genus. Its underparts, neck and head are yellow, with a red band above the beak and violet-blue cheeks. The back is mostly black and green, and its long tail blue and green. The female has duller yellow plumage and more prominent red markings, as well as a smaller beak. Found in a wide range of habitats with some form of tree cover, the green rosella is predominantly herbivorous, consuming seeds, berries, nuts, fruits, and flowers, but it may also eat insect larvae and insects such as psyllids. Nesting takes place in tree hollows. The green rosella is widespread across Tasmania, but the King Island subspecies has been classed as vulnerable. (Full article...)


July 3

Reconstructed Ambulocetus skeleton
Reconstructed Ambulocetus skeleton

Ambulocetus natans is a species of early amphibious archaeocete cetacean from the Kuldana Formation in Pakistan during the early Eocene, 48 or 47 million years ago. It is among the most completely known Eocene cetaceans, vital to the study of cetacean evolution and the transition from land to sea. Ambulocetus probably had a long, broad, and powerful snout, and eyes near the top of the head. It may have hunted like a crocodile, waiting near the water's surface and ambushing large mammals, using the jaws to clamp onto and drown or thrash prey. It may have swum like a river otter, alternating beats of the hind limbs while keeping the forelimbs tucked in for most of its propulsive power, simultaneously undulating the torso and tail. It had four functional limbs and may have walked much like a sea lion. It possibly had webbed feet and lacked a tail fluke. It lived in a hot, coastal swamp, probably in a river mouth. (Full article...)


July 4

Fort Concho headquarters building
Fort Concho headquarters building

Fort Concho is a former United States Army installation and a National Historic Landmark located in San Angelo, Texas. It was established in 1867 and was an active military base for 22 years. The fort was the base of the 4th Cavalry from 1867 to 1875, and of the "Buffalo Soldiers" of the 10th Cavalry from 1875 to 1882. The fort was abandoned in June 1889 and over the next twenty years was divided into residences and businesses, with the buildings repurposed or recycled for their materials. Efforts to preserve and restore Fort Concho began in the 1900s and the Fort Concho Museum was founded in 1928. Fort Concho was named a National Historic Landmark District on July 4, 1961, and is one of the best-preserved examples of the military installations built by the US Army in Texas. (Full article...)


July 5

Debut issue cover
Debut issue cover

Imaginative Tales was an American fantasy and science fiction magazine launched in September 1954 by William Hamling's Greenleaf Publishing Company. It began as a vehicle for novel-length humorous fantasy, with initial issues featuring stories by Charles F. Myers and Robert Bloch. After a year, Hamling switched the focus to science fiction, and it became similar in content to its sister magazine Imagination, publishing routine space operas. In 1958, with public interest in space high, Hamling changed the title to Space Travel, but there was little effect on sales. Magazine circulation was suffering because of the rise of the paperback, and the liquidation in 1957 of American News Company, a major magazine distributor, made it even harder for small magazines to survive. Hamling eventually folded both Imaginative Tales and Imagination in 1958, preferring to invest the money in Rogue, a men's magazine he had started in imitation of Playboy in 1955. (Full article...)


July 6

Lion-class battlecruiser

Two Lion-class battlecruisers were built for the Royal Navy before World War I. Lion served as the flagship of the British Grand Fleet's battlecruisers during most of the war, and Princess Royal became the flagship of the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron in 1915. The two ships were a significant improvement over their predecessors in terms of speed, armament and armour. They both participated in the Battle of Heligoland Bight in 1914, where Lion sank the German light cruiser Cöln. In the Battle of Dogger Bank in 1915, Lion was badly damaged and Princess Royal scored several hits, one crippling the German armoured cruiser Blücher, which allowed the enemy vessel to be caught and sunk. At the Battle of Jutland in 1916, Lion suffered a serious cordite fire that could have destroyed the ship, and Princess Royal was moderately damaged. They were both put into reserve in 1920, and were sold for scrap a few years later. (This article is part of a featured topic: Battlecruisers of the world.)


July 7

Roman foot soldiers from the 2nd century BC
Roman foot soldiers from the 2nd century BC

The First Punic War (264–241 BC) was the first of three wars between Carthage and Rome, the two main powers of the western Mediterranean in the 3rd century BC. For 23 years they struggled for supremacy, primarily on the island of Sicily and its surrounding waters, and also in North Africa. After immense losses on both sides the Carthaginians were defeated. The war began with the Romans gaining a foothold on Sicily. In 260 BC they built a navy to challenge Carthage's, and inflicted several defeats. Taking advantage of their naval victories, the Romans launched an invasion of North Africa, which failed. In 249 BC they besieged the last two Carthaginian strongholds on Sicily. After several years of stalemate, the Romans rebuilt their fleet and blockaded the Carthaginian garrisons. A Carthaginian fleet attempted to relieve them, but the fleet's destruction in 241 BC forced the cut-off Carthaginian troops to negotiate for peace. (This article is part of a featured topic: Punic Wars.)


July 8

George W. Romney

George Romney (July 8, 1907 – July 26, 1995) was an American businessman and Republican Party politician, and the father of Mitt Romney. George Romney was born to Americans living in the Mormon colonies in Mexico. He spent much of his youth in Salt Lake City, but moved to Detroit in 1939, working in the automotive industry, and rising to lead American Motors Corporation from 1954 to 1962. Entering politics at a 1961 Michigan state constitutional convention, he was elected governor in 1962, 1964, and 1966. He ran for the Republican nomination for president in 1968, but was defeated by Richard Nixon. President Nixon appointed Romney as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Romney's plans, which included housing for the poor and the desegregation of suburbs, were modestly successful. He left office in 1973, returning to the private sector. Devoutly religious, he presided over the Detroit Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving as a regional representative of the Twelve within his church. (Full article...)


July 9

Red-bellied black snake

The red-bellied black snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus) is a species of elapid snake native to Australia. Described by George Shaw in 1794, it is one of eastern Australia's most commonly encountered snakes. Averaging around 1.25 metres (4 ft) in length when fully grown, it has glossy black upperparts, bright red or orange flanks and a pink or dull red belly. It generally avoids people, but can attack if provoked. Although its venom is capable of causing significant illness, containing neurotoxins, myotoxins, coagulants and haemolysins, it is less venomous than that of other Australian elapid snakes, and no humans have been confirmed to have died from its bite. The snake forages in bodies of shallow water, commonly with tangles of water plants and logs, where it hunts frogs, its main prey item, as well as fish, reptiles and small mammals. Its numbers are thought to be declining due to habitat fragmentation and falling frog populations. (Full article...)


July 10

Tilikum Crossing
Tilikum Crossing

The MAX Orange Line is a light rail service in Portland, Oregon, United States, operated by TriMet as part of the MAX Light Rail system. It connects Portland City Center to Portland State University, Southeast Portland, Milwaukie, and Oak Grove. The Portland–Milwaukie Light Rail Project was the second and final phase of the South Corridor Project that in its first phase expanded light rail services to Interstate 205 and the Portland Transit Mall. The extension, which followed years of failed light rail plans for Clackamas County, began construction work in mid-2011. As part of the project, TriMet built Tilikum Crossing (pictured), billed as "the largest car-free bridge in the United States", over the Willamette River. The extension opened to Orange Line service on September 12, 2015. The line serves 17 stations and runs for 2012 hours daily with a minimum headway of 15 minutes during most of the day. (Full article...)


July 11

George Fan, designer
George Fan, designer

Plants vs. Zombies is a 2009 tower defense video game developed and published by PopCap Games. First released for Windows and Mac OS X, the game has since been ported to consoles, handhelds, and mobile devices. In Plants vs. Zombies, the player takes the role of a homeowner in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. As a horde of zombies approaches along several parallel lanes, the player must defend the home by putting down plants, which fire projectiles at the zombies or otherwise detrimentally affect them. The game was designed by George Fan (pictured) as a sequel to Insaniquarium. Fan took inspiration from the games Magic: The Gathering and Warcraft III and the movie Swiss Family Robinson. The game was positively received by critics and was nominated for multiple awards. It quickly became the best-selling game developed by PopCap Games. Plants vs. Zombies was followed by a series of games after the acquisition of PopCap Games by Electronic Arts. (Full article...)


July 12

The National Union of Freedom Fighters (NUFF) was an armed Marxist revolutionary group in Trinidad and Tobago. The group fought a guerrilla campaign to overthrow the government of Prime Minister Eric Williams following the failed 1970 Black Power uprising and a mutiny in the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment. NUFF formed from the Western United Liberation Front, a loose grouping of largely unemployed men from the western suburbs of Port of Spain. NUFF drew disaffected members of the National Joint Action Committee, a Black Power organisation, and established a training camp in south Trinidad. In 1972 and 1973 NUFF attacked police posts to acquire weapons, robbed banks, and carried out an insurgent campaign against the government. With improved intelligence capabilities, the government eventually killed or captured most of its leadership. Eighteen NUFF members and three policemen were killed over the course of the insurgency. NUFF was anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist and was notable for the extent to which women played an active role in the organisation, including among its guerrilla fighters. (Full article...)


July 13

Australian CH-47 lifting a front loader in Afghanistan
Australian CH-47 lifting a front loader in Afghanistan

In Australia, Boeing CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters have been operated by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) for most of the period since 1974. Twenty-six Chinooks have entered Australian service, comprising twelve CH-47C variants, four CH-47Ds and ten CH-47Fs. They have been operated by both the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the Australian Army. Twelve CH-47C Chinooks were ordered in 1970 and entered service with the RAAF in 1974. The eleven surviving Chinooks were retired in 1989 as a cost-saving measure. However, it was found that the ADF's other helicopters could not replace their capabilities, so four were upgraded to CH-47D standard, and returned to service with the army in 1995. The army acquired two more CH-47Ds in 2000 and another pair in 2012. The CH-47Ds were replaced with ten new CH-47F Chinooks during 2015 and 2016. They have mainly been used to support the army, though they have performed a wide range of other tasks. Chinooks formed part of the Australian contribution to the Iraq War in 2003 and to the war in Afghanistan. (Full article...)


July 14

Rick Baker, the makeup artist
Rick Baker, the makeup artist

Squirm is a 1976 American horror film written and directed by Jeff Lieberman, starring Don Scardino, Patricia Pearcy, R. A. Dow, Jean Sullivan, Peter MacLean, Fran Higgins and William Newman. The film takes place in the fictional town of Fly Creek, Georgia, which becomes infested with carnivorous worms due to a downed power line. Lieberman's script is based on a childhood incident in which his brother fed electricity into a patch of earth, causing earthworms to rise to the surface. Millions of worms were used over the five-week filming in Port Wentworth, Georgia; worms were brought in from Maine to augment local supplies. Makeup artist Rick Baker (pictured) provided the special effects, using prosthetic makeup. After American International Pictures picked up Squirm for distribution, it was edited to remove the more graphic scenes in a failed attempt to lower its "R" rating to "PG". The film was a commercial success, but had lukewarm reviews. It has since become a critical favorite and a cult classic. (Full article...)


July 15

1930 Viking
1930 Viking

In the late 1920s, American automaker General Motors (GM) introduced four brands to supplement its five existing brands of passenger cars. In descending order of price, these were LaSalle, to supplement Cadillac; Viking (example pictured), to supplement Oldsmobile; Marquette, to supplement Buick; and Pontiac, to supplement Oakland. The brands were introduced in an effort to fill gaps in GM's pricing ladder and produce cars that were cheaper to make for its existing divisions. The Great Depression resulted in the failure of most of these brands. Viking and Marquette were each discontinued within two years of their introductions, and LaSalle after slightly more than a decade. Pontiac had the opposite fate; it was Oakland that would be discontinued, while Pontiac would continue until 2010. (Full article...)


July 16

Morningside Park

Morningside Park is a 30-acre (12-hectare) public park in Upper Manhattan, New York City. The area, originally known as "Muscota" by the Lenape Native Americans, features a cliff that separates Morningside Heights (to the west) from Harlem. The city commissioned Central Park's designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux to produce a design for the park, which they did in 1873. Jacob Wrey Mould was hired to design new plans in 1880, but little progress occurred until Olmsted and Vaux were asked to modify their plans following Mould's death in 1886. After the park was completed in 1895, three sculptures were installed: Lafayette and Washington, Carl Schurz Memorial, and Alfred Lincoln Seligman Fountain. Columbia University proposed constructing a gym in the park's southern end in the early 1960s, but abandoned the plan after students protested in 1968. The site of the unbuilt gym was turned into a waterfall and pond around 1990, and an arboretum was added in 1998. (Full article...)


July 17

Paper Mario

Paper Mario is a video game spinoff series of the Mario franchise, developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo for its various video game consoles. The series began when Square took its Final Fantasy franchise to Sony's PlayStation console, leaving Nintendo without a role-playing game (RPG) for the Nintendo 64. The series follows Mario on various quests to defeat one or more antagonists (including Bowser) in worlds created with papercraft materials. The first game in the series, Paper Mario, was released in August 2000. The series has received praise for its writing, characters, and graphics, but garnered criticism for its transition from traditional role-playing to action-adventure, starting with Super Paper Mario for the Wii. The newest game in the series, The Origami King, was released on July 17, 2020. (Full article...)


July 18

Captain David Nelson, commissioned from the ranks in 1914
Captain David Nelson, commissioned from the ranks in 1914

"Temporary gentlemen" is a colloquial term referring to male officers of the British Army who held temporary (or war-duration) commissions, particularly when such men came from outside the traditional officer class. Historically the officers of the British Army were drawn from the gentry and upper middle classes. The First World War required a rapid expansion of the officer corps and more than 200,000 additional officers were recruited, many on temporary commissions. Many of these were drawn from the lower middle and working classes. They came to be referred to as "temporary gentlemen" with the expectation that they would revert to their former social standing after the war. The term was revived in the Second World War, which saw a similar increase in the number of officers holding temporary commissions. The term continued to see use for officers commissioned from those conscripted for National Service, which lasted until 1963. (Full article...)


July 19

Nick Stahl, who played Ben Hawkins
Nick Stahl, who played Ben Hawkins

The two central characters of Carnivàle, an HBO television series, were Ben Hawkins (actor pictured), a young man working in a traveling carnival; and Brother Justin Crowe, a Californian preacher. Most of the characters are introduced in Ben's story, though several others interact mainly with Brother Justin; some appear in mysterious dreams and visions connecting the slowly converging storylines. Show creator Daniel Knauf submitted elaborate character biographies, which were rewritten before the filming of the first season began and provided to the actors and production personnel. The original character backgrounds were summarized on HBO's website, and were provided in full to fans after the show's cancellation. Due to their nature, these sources contain information on the intended fate of the characters beyond the cancellation of Carnivàle after the second season. They do not offer canon information per se, but provide a frame for the characters' motivation throughout the series. (This article is part of a featured topic: Carnivàle.)


July 20

Reverse of the Apollo 11 gold half eagle
Reverse of the Apollo 11 gold half eagle

The Apollo 11 50th Anniversary commemorative coins were issued by the United States Mint in 2019 to mark the 50th anniversary of the first crewed landing on the Moon on July 20, 1969, by Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. There is a gold half eagle (five-dollar coin), two sizes of silver dollars, and a copper-nickel clad half dollar, all with the same design and curved, with the obverse concave and the reverse convex. The obverse shows a bootprint on the lunar surface, and the reverse (pictured), based on a well-known photo by Armstrong, depicts the visor of Aldrin's space suit, reflecting Armstrong, the U.S. flag and the Lunar Module Eagle. The depiction of Aldrin made him the seventh individual depicted on a U.S. coin to be alive at the time it was struck. The program was the most successful U.S. commemorative coin issue since the 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame coins, with more than 600,000 Apollo 11 coins sold. The larger silver dollar won the Coin of the Year Award for 2019-dated issues. (Full article...)


July 21

Robin Williams
Robin Williams

Dementia with Lewy bodies is a common dementia characterized by changes in sleep, behavior, cognition, movement, and regulation of automatic bodily functions. Symptoms worsen over time until cognitive decline interferes with normal daily functioning. The core features are REM sleep behavior disorder (in which people act out their dreams), visual hallucinations, marked fluctuations in attention or alertness, and parkinsonism. The exact cause is unknown, but involves deposits of abnormal clumps of protein in the brain, known as Lewy bodies. Gastrointestinal and heart function can be affected. Definitive diagnosis usually requires an autopsy, and a probable diagnosis—based on symptoms and tests—is often missed. Management of the many symptoms is challenging and involves multiple specialties. There is no cure or medication to stop the disease progression. After the suicide of Robin Williams (pictured) in 2014, his autopsy found that diffuse Lewy bodies explained his symptoms. (Full article...)


July 22

Hurricane Emily

Hurricane Emily was the strongest storm of the 1993 Atlantic hurricane season, and caused record flooding in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The fifth named storm of the season, Emily became a tropical storm on August 25, after becoming nearly stationary southeast of Bermuda. On August 31, the hurricane reached peak winds of 115 mph (185 km/h) on its approach to North Carolina. Part of the eye passed over Hatteras Island in the Outer Banks, but its absolute center remained 23 mi (37 km) offshore. Emily's strong winds coincided with high tides during a full moon, causing severe flooding along the Pamlico Sound. The villages of Avon and Hatteras were inundated, and in Buxton, the floods left behind water marks as high as 10.54 ft (3.21 m). The storm wrecked 553 homes, leaving a quarter of the Cape Hatteras population homeless. Off the coasts of North Carolina and Virginia, three swimmers drowned. (Full article...)


July 23

Arthur Blackburn

Arthur Blackburn (1892–1960) was an Australian soldier, lawyer, politician, and recipient of the Victoria Cross. Enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force in 1914, he fought with his unit for most of the Gallipoli campaign of 1915, during which he was commissioned. On 23 July 1916, during the Battle of Pozières in France, he led four sorties to drive Germans from a strong point using hand grenades and captured 370 yards (340 m) of trench. He fought in the Battle of Mouquet Farm in August, then was evacuated to Australia due to illness. He served as a member of the South Australian parliament in 1918–1921. After the outbreak of World War II, Blackburn led the 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion during the Syria–Lebanon campaign in 1941, personally accepting the surrender of Damascus. In early 1942, his battalion was deployed to Java in the Dutch East Indies. Captured by the Japanese, Blackburn spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war. After the war, he served on the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. (Full article...)


July 24

Greta Thunberg, featured on the track
Greta Thunberg, featured on the track

"The 1975" is a song by the band of the same name and the first track on Notes on a Conditional Form (2020), their fourth album. In the song, Greta Thunberg (pictured) calls for civil disobedience in response to climate change, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Each of their three previous albums began with a track titled "The 1975" that used the same lyrics, beginning "Go down / Soft sound", but the lead vocalist Matty Healy thought it was important to give a platform to Thunberg, the "voice of this generation". After the recording in Stockholm, they released the song earlier than intended—on 24 July 2019. Proceeds from the song were donated to the grassroots environmental movement Extinction Rebellion, at Thunberg's request. The band opened encores at their performances with the song, before the COVID-19 pandemic halted their touring. It was received positively by music critics, many of whom praised the album's transition from the end of "The 1975" into the punk rock song "People". (Full article...)


July 25

Range of O. dimidiatus (yellow) in Central America
Range of O. dimidiatus (yellow) in Central America

Oryzomys dimidiatus, also known as the Nicaraguan oryzomys, Thomas's rice rat, or the Nicaraguan rice rat, is a rodent in the genus Oryzomys of the family Cricetidae. It is known from only three specimens, all collected in southeastern Nicaragua (range pictured) since 1904. Placed in Nectomys upon its discovery, it was later classified in its own subgenus of Oryzomys and finally recognized as closely related to other species now placed in Oryzomys, including the marsh rice rat and Oryzomys couesi, which occurs in the same region. With a head and body length of 118 to 128 mm (4.6 to 5.0 in), O. dimidiatus is a medium-sized rice rat. The upperparts are gray-brown and the underparts are grayish, not buffy as in O. couesi. The tail is only slightly darker above than below. All three specimens were caught near water and the species may be semiaquatic, spending some time in the water. There is currently not enough data to make a proper assessment of its conservation status. (This article is part of a featured topic: Oryzomys.)


July 26

The storming of Caen
The storming of Caen

The Battle of Caen on 26 July 1346 was an assault on the French-held town by a force of archers and men-at-arms, part of an invading English army under King Edward III during the Hundred Years' War. This force, nominally commanded by the Earls of Warwick and Northampton, was eager for plunder, and attacked against orders, before the rest of their army was in position. Caen was garrisoned by 1,000–1,500 soldiers and a large number of armed townsmen, commanded by Grand Constable of France Raoul, the Count of Eu. The town was captured in the first assault; over 5,000 of the ordinary soldiers and townspeople were killed and a small number of nobles were taken prisoner. After sacking the town for five days, the army marched to the River Seine, and by 12 August they were 20 miles (32 kilometres) from Paris. After turning north they heavily defeated the French at the Battle of Crécy two weeks later, and commenced the successful siege of Calais the following week. (This article is part of a featured topic: Crécy campaign.)


July 27

Call of Duty

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered is a first-person shooter game, developed by Raven Software and published by Activision. It is a remastered version of 2007's Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. It was initially released for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows in November 2016 as part of special edition bundles of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. The story follows the USMC and SAS in conflict against a Middle Eastern separatist group and a Russian ultranationalist group. The remaster began development as the result of an online petition. It features extensive technical enhancements while retaining the original core gameplay, and includes new single-player and multiplayer content. Critical reception was generally positive, with praise for the range of modifications and the simplistic but challenging gameplay. However, it was criticized for its balancing, narrative pacing, and artificial intelligence. The game was controversial for several business decisions made by Activision. (Full article...)


July 28

R. A. B. Mynors

R. A. B. Mynors (28 July 1903 – 17 October 1989) was an English classicist and medievalist who held the senior chair of Latin at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. He served as the Kennedy Professor of Latin at Cambridge from 1944 to 1953 and as the Corpus Christi Professor of Latin at Oxford from 1953 until his retirement in 1970. Mynors had the reputation of one of Britain's foremost classicists. A textual critic, he specialised in the study of manuscripts and their role in the reconstruction of classical texts. He was an expert on palaeography, and has been credited with unravelling a number of highly complex manuscript relationships. His publications include critical editions of Vergil, Catullus, and Pliny the Younger. In addition to receiving honorary degrees and fellowships from various institutions, Mynors was made a Knight Bachelor in 1963. He died in a car accident, aged 86. His comprehensive commentary on Vergil's Georgics was published posthumously. (Full article...)


July 29

Probable portrait of Palaiologos
Probable portrait of Palaiologos

Andreas Palaiologos (1453–1502) was the elder son of Thomas Palaiologos, Despot of the Morea, and a nephew of Constantine XI Palaiologos, the final Byzantine emperor. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and the Ottoman invasion of the Morea in 1460, Andreas's father fled to Corfu with his family. Upon his father's death in 1465, Andreas moved to Rome and was recognized as the titular Despot of the Morea and as the chief claimant to the ancient imperial throne. Although his father had never claimed the title, Andreas proclaimed himself "Emperor of Constantinople" from 1483 onwards, a claim that was supported by some of the Byzantine refugees who lived in Italy. Andreas traveled around Europe in search of a ruler who could aid him in retaking Constantinople, but rallied little support. In 1481 an expedition he started organizing to restore the Byzantine Empire was canceled. He died in poverty in Rome in 1502 and was buried in St. Peter's Basilica. (Full article...)


July 30

Apollo 15

Apollo 15 (July 26 – August 7, 1971) was the fourth crewed mission to land on the Moon. It was the first J mission, with a longer stay on the Moon (July 30 – August 2) and a greater focus on science, including the first Lunar Roving Vehicle. David Scott and James Irwin landed near Hadley Rille and spent 18+12 hours on extravehicular activity, collecting 170 pounds (77 kg) of surface material. At the same time, Alfred Worden orbited the Moon, operating the sensors in the SIM bay of the service module. During the return trip, Worden performed the first spacewalk in deep space. The Apollo 15 mission splashed down safely, with all goals accomplished, but was marred when it emerged that the crew had carried unauthorized postal covers to the lunar surface, some of which were sold by a West German stamp dealer. The crew was reprimanded for poor judgment, and did not fly in space again. The mission also saw the collection of the Genesis Rock, thought to be part of the Moon's early crust, and Scott used a hammer and a feather to demonstrate Galileo's theory that absent air resistance, objects fall at the same rate regardless of mass. (Full article...)


July 31

White-eyed river martin

The white-eyed river martin (Pseudochelidon sirintarae) is a passerine bird in the swallow family. First found in 1968, it is known only from a single wintering site in Thailand, and may be extinct, since there have been no confirmed sightings since 1980 despite targeted surveys in Thailand and Cambodia. The adult has mainly glossy greenish-black plumage, a white rump, and a tail with two long central feathers that widen to a racket-shaped tip. It has a white eye ring and a broad, bright greenish-yellow bill. The juvenile lacks the tail ornaments and is browner. Like other swallows, it feeds on insects caught in flight, and its wide bill suggests that it may take relatively large species. It roosts in reed beds in winter, and may nest in river sandbanks. Its apparent demise may have been hastened by trapping, loss of habitat and dam construction. The martin is one of only two birds endemic to Thailand. The country's government has featured the bird on a stamp and a commemorative coin. (This article is part of a featured topic: River martin.)