Thursday, September 4, 2008

On September 4

On this day in ...
... 2004, in Samira Bellil died of stomach cancer at age 31. As described in this obituary by free-lance journalist Rose George, Bellil was born in Algeria to Algerian parents who soon moved to France; she grew up in a banlieu outside Paris. In 2002 Bellil published Dans L'Enfer Des Tournantes, which told of having twice been raped by gangs and of violence against other young women in the ghettos of France. She went on to help found Ni Putes Ni Soumises, a women's rights NGO that, complete with rap-tracked pink website, remains active to this day. (credit for Baptiste Lignel photo of Bellil, center, at an International Women's Day march)
... 1858 (150 years ago today), a special supplement of the periodical Harper's Weekly published the image below right, which depicts the efforts of 2 ships, the British Agamemnon and the American Niagara, to battle Atlantic storms and lay more than 1,000 miles of cable, reaching from Valentia, Ireland, to Trinity Bay, Newfoundland. Once the effort was completed, "North America and Europe were wired for instant communication." Unfortunately, too high a voltage was used, and the cable failed about the time that this image was published. It would be nearly another decade before a durable transatlantic cable would enter operation.

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