This Day in History: October 20th- The Long March

One year after Communist troops retreated to the hills to avoid the wrath of Chiang Kai-shek and the Chinese Nationalist Party, only 4,000 out of the 86,000 had lived to tell the tale. Even though only five percent of Mao Tse-tung’s forces made it to the end of the Long March to northwest China, Mao’s position as the leader of Communist China was a done deal.

China was a fragmented nation in the early 1930s, fraught with instability and civil war. Warlords regularly attacked the government of Chiang Kai-shek. With help from the Soviet Union, Mao took advantage of this chaos and in November 1931 declared a new Chinese Soviet Republic.

Chiang saw the Red Army quickly gaining strength, so he moved his forces into the countryside where Mao’s troops were concentrated, and began to encircle them. It seemed certain the Nationalists with their greater numbers would crush the Communists. So the leaders of the Red Army ordered a secret retreat – that would become known as the Long March – to begin on October 16, 1934.

The leaders of the Army informed their troops, including Mao, that the idea was to become a mobile threat to Nationalist forces. The Red Army managed to evacuate a good number of their troops before the Nationalists even caught wind of what they were doing.

The Long March covered approximately six thousand miles. It traversed 24 rivers and 18 mountain ranges. The marchers endured starvation, disease, aerial bombardment, and almost daily attacks from Nationalist forces.

Mao Tse-tung’s influence steadily grew along the way. Shortly after he was made chairman of the party he changed tactics, sending his forces in several directions to confuse the enemy. Their destination was Shensi Province in farthest northwest corner of China. On October 20, 1935, Mao and his troops arrived at the Great Wall of China and were greeted by five armed red flag bearing horsemen. One bade him welcome by saying: “Welcome, Chairman Mao. We represent the Provincial Soviet of Northern Shensi. We have been waiting for you anxiously. All that we have is at your disposal!”

And with that, the Long March was finally over, the longest continuous march in the history of warfare.

The Long March cemented the position of Mao Tse-tung as Communist China’s undisputed leader. The other veterans of the march became the elite higher-ups in the Party. When China’s youth learned of the communists’ heroism during the Long March, they rushed to Shensi to enlist in the Red Army in droves. Chairman Mao ruled the CCP with an iron fist (some estimate 70 million died as a result of his regime) until his death in 1976.

Found at Today I Found Out.

Translators who have aided the U.S. Military in Afghanistan and Iraq are in great danger in their home countries, but red tape is making it impossible for many of them to leave. John Oliver interviews Mohammad, one translator who made it out.

Marc Andreessen steps down from eBay’s board.

He’s calling it quits after six years on the company’s board. He had argued against splitting eBay and PayPal, and had a public spat over it with Carl Icahn. PayPal will be split from eBay next year.



Meet Nature’s Nightmare

It is as astonishing as it is sad to watch a ladybug turn into a zombie. Normally ladybugs are sophisticated and voracious predators. A single individual may devour several thousand aphids in a lifetime. To find a victim, it first waves its antennae to detect chemicals that plants release when they’re under attack by herbivorous insects. Once it has homed in on these signals, the ladybug switches its sensory scan to search for molecules released only by aphids. Then it creeps up and strikes, ripping the aphid apart with barbed mandibles.

Ladybugs are also well protected against most of their enemies. Their red-and-black dome, so adorable to the human eye, is actually a warning to would-be predators: You will regret this. When a bird or some other animal tries to attack, the ladybug bleeds poison from its leg joints. The attacker tastes the bitter blood and spits the ladybug out. Predators learn to read the red-and-black wing covers as a message to stay away.

A predator protected from other predators, the ladybug would seem to have the perfect insect life—were it not for wasps that lay their eggs inside its living body.

One of these wasps, Dinocampus coccinellae, is about the size of an ice-cream sprinkle. When a female wasp is ready to lay an egg, she alights near a ladybug and swiftly inserts her stinger into its underside, injecting an egg into her victim along with a blend of chemicals. When the egg hatches, the larva feeds on the fluids that fill its host’s body cavity.

Though the ladybug is gradually being devoured, on the outside it seems unchanged. It goes on attacking aphids with abandon. But after it has digested its prey, its parasite feeds and grows on the resulting nutrients. Some three weeks later, the wasp larva has grown so much that it is ready to leave its host and develop into an adult. It squirms out through a chink in the ladybug’s exoskeleton.

Even though the ladybug’s body now is free of the parasite, its mind remains enthralled. As the wasp larva wraps itself in a silk cocoon beneath it, the ladybug remains immobile.

From the wasp’s point of view, this is a very positive development. A growing D. coccinellae wasp nestled in its cocoon is intensely vulnerable. Lacewing larvae and other insects will happily devour it. But if one of these predators approaches, the ladybug will thrash its limbs, scaring off the attacker. In effect it has become the parasite’s bodyguard. And it will continue to loyally play this role for a week, until an adult wasp cuts a hole through the cocoon with its mandibles, crawls out, and flies away.

Only then do most of the ladybug zombies die, their service to their parasite overlord complete.

Much more to read HERE.



Fascinating Photographs Capture Working Life In Cities Around The World

Could this drug make you mentally stronger?

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Istanbul, The City That Lies in Two Continents

Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey and the fifth-largest city in the world by population, is considered European, yet it occupies two different continents. One part of Istanbul lies in Europe and the other part lies in Asia. Istanbul’s European part is separated from its Asian part by the Bosphorus strait, a 31-km-long waterway that connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara, and forms a natural boundary between the two continents. Two suspension bridges across the Bosporus – the Bosporus Bridge and Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, also called Bosporus Bridge II, connect the two sides, yet many tourist prefer to visit the European side of Istanbul because of its historical significance. The European side is also the city’s commercial center with banks, stores and corporations and two-third of its population. The Asian side feels more relaxed, with wide boulevards, residential neighbourhoods and fewer hotels and tourist attractions.

Lots of pictures of Istanbul found HERE.


Old Timers’ Day, 1977


That was a historic year in American baseball as Yankees and Dodgers met at the World Series for the first time since 1963, but a more momentous event has occurred a few months earlier. On July 16th, 1977, Duke Snider, Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, and Mickey Mantle made an appearance together at Old Timer’s day during All-Star Game weekend at Shea Stadium.

As the quartet walked away from the Center Field, an iconic photo was made; the jersey numbers — 4, 5, 24, 7 — were sufficient to convey that this was the group who had staggering 1,964 homeruns among them. A few years later, Terry Cashman, that Balladeer of Baseball, recalled this iconic photo to write his famous song, “Talkin’ Baseball” (itself later immortalized by The Simpsons)

Cashman wrote the song during a bitter baseball strike, harkening back to a different America. That sunnier era for him was 1957, when New York had three great teams in the city — and three of the greatest center fielders in history. That was, according to Gallup, also the happiest year in American history, right amidst the Ike prosperity. Soon Edsel would disastrously debut, Sputnik went up — twin ignominies for American science and industry. That same year, the Giants and the Dodgers moved away to San Francisco and Los Angeles respectively.

Try as he might, Cashman couldn’t find a rhyme for DiMaggio’s name; the star was left out of the song and airbrushed from the record’s picture sleeve (below) — something that had disappointed both the singer and the player. Cashman later wrote, “Cooperstown, The Town Where Baseball Lives” where diMaggio featured prominently as an apology.

Found HERE.


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