After serving as an adviser to Muhammad, Umar succeeded Abu Bakr as caliph of Islam in 634 CE. During his 10-year reign, Islam became an imperial power, with conquests in Syria, Egypt, and the Persian Empire. Umar further laid the administrative base of the empire and reopened the canals of Mesopotamia and the waterway from the Nile to the Red Sea. Before he converted, Umar was hostile to Islam and had in fact plotted to kill Muhammad. Ultimately, however, it was he who was assassinated—by whom?
Back in the day
Near London on the morning of December 12, 1988, the driver of the 7:18 train from Basingstoke to Waterloo saw a signal in front of him abruptly change from green to red. He stopped his train and called the signalman, who told him to proceed. Before he could, however, the 6:14 from Poole rammed into his train's rear at about 40 mph (64 km/h). Then, an empty train traveling in the opposite direction hit the wreckage. The crashes killed 35 and injured hundreds more. What caused the signal failure?
Born on a day like today
A member of abstract expressionism's second generation, Frankenthaler was greatly influenced by Jackson Pollock. Inspired by his way of working on a canvas laid on the floor rather than mounted upright, Frankenthaler developed a technique for staining unprimed canvases with thinned pigments that she poured. Her work gave rise to the color-field movement of the late 50s. An appointee to the National Endowment for the Arts, she controversially opposed government grants to artists on what grounds?