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Kennedy addresses US warning of nuclear weapons in Cuba

In a televised speech of extraordinary gravity, President John F. Kennedy announces that U.S. spy planes have discovered Soviet missile bases in Cuba. These missile sites, under construction but nearing completion, housed medium-range missiles capable of striking a number of major cities in the United States, including Washington, D.C. Kennedy announced that he was ordering a naval "quarantine"... Read more >

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Double Agent George Blake Escapes

The (Sort Of) Great EscapeIt was just like a Jason Bourne film. Except for any stunts, car chases or excessive, extravagant kicking. It was on this day in 1966 that a daring escape was initiated from Wormwood Scrubs by notorious double agent George Blake. Somehow, the former British spy turned Soviet espionage specialist had managed to cut through some window bars and shimmy down a handily plac... Read more >

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The first parachutist

The first parachute jump of note is made by André-Jacques Garnerin from a hydrogen balloon 3,200 feet above Paris. Leonardo da Vinci conceived the idea of the parachute in his writings, and the Frenchman Louis-Sebastien Lenormand fashioned a kind of parachute out of two umbrellas and jumped from a tree in 1783, but André-Jacques Garnerin was the first to design and test parachutes capable of ... Read more >

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Pianist and composer Franz Liszt is born

Born on this day in 1811 in the Hapsburg Kingdom of Hungary, Franz Liszt would go on to make a name for himself not only as an important composer in the Romantic era, but also as one of the greatest pianists who ever lived. In a career that spanned five eventful decades in classical-music history, his professional accomplishments alone would have made him a figure of historical significance, bu... Read more >

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Sartre wins and declines Nobel Prize

On this day in 1964, Jean-Paul Sartre is awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, which he declines. In his novels, essays, and plays, Sartre advanced the philosophy of existentialism, arguing that each individual must create meaning for his or her own life, because life itself had no innate meaning. Sartre studied at the elite École Normale Supérieure between 1924 and 1929. He met Simone de B... Read more >