" Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion. "
Mark Twain

Back in the day


Nelson Mandela Is Freed

As a young man, Mandela was an active opponent of South Africa's apartheid regime. Initially committed to non-violent struggle, he became the leader of the armed wing of the African National Congress after the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre, when police opened fire on several thousand protesters. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1964, but international pressure led to his release in 1990. Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and was elected his country's first black president in what year?



Hiroo Onoda

When Lubang Island in the Philippines was reclaimed by the Allies at the end of WWII, Japanese army officer Hiroo Onoda hid in the dense jungle and refused to surrender. He remained there for 29 years, dismissing all attempts to convince him of the war's end as ruses. Later found by a Japanese student, Onoda refused to surrender unless given the order by his superior officer, who was then flown to Lubang by the Japanese government to do so. How has Onoda spent his life since?

Born on a day like today


Manuel Noriega

Noriega was a Panamanian general and the country's de facto military leader from 1983 to 1989. A one-time operative for the CIA, he was implicated in drug trafficking, the sale of US secrets to Cuba, and other illegal activities. Following the murder of a US marine on the streets of Panama City, Noriega was captured and brought to America to stand trial for drug trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering. What other countries have convicted Noriega of crimes in absentia?

Last updated on Friday, 12th February 2010

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