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Good InfoGood News in History, March 26

Good News in History, March 26

49 years ago today, the Biological Weapons Convention, (BWC) entered into force. It’s considered to have established a strong global norm against biological weapons reflected in the treaty’s preamble, which states that the use of biological weapons would be “repugnant to the conscience of mankind”. It is also demonstrated by the fact that not a single state today declares to possess or seek biological weapons, or asserts that their use in war is legitimate, and today, only Israel, Chad, Eritrea, and 5 small island nations have not signed the agreement. READ more about the BWC… (1979)

The Biological Weapons Convention document

In the United States, President Nixon terminated the American bioweapons program in 1969. The UK at this time was proposing the separation of chemical and biological weapons into different treaties, but the Soviet Union remained adamant they both be banned under the same international law.

The Soviet Union during these years may have had the largest and most sophisticated biological weapons program ever devised on Earth, and entrenched interests made it difficult to walk back from the degree of weaponization they had achieved in strains of smallpox and Marburg disease. However, after an anthrax contamination in 1979 killed between 65 and 100 people in the city of Yekaterinburg, it was likely significantly scaled back.

While the BWC has had resounding success in preventing the use and development of biological and chemical agents for war, its degree of universality remains low compared to other weapons of mass destruction regimes, including the Chemical Weapons Convention with 193 parties, and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons with 191 parties.

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • Voters in West Virginia approved the gradual emancipation of slaves (1863)
  • Robert Frost, one of the most popular and critically respected American poets of the twentieth century, was born (1874)
  • Tennessee Williams, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright was born—his turbulent childhood, which included an alcoholic, workaholic father, and frequent uprooting, fueled his depression, but also prolific writing, including The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1911)
  • Leonard Nimoy, the actor who portrayed the logical Mr. Spock on the Star Trek television series in the 1960s, was born (1931–2015)
  • Joe DiMaggio, beginning only his second year in Major League Baseball, took Ty Cobb’s advice and started using a heavier 40-ounce bat, which raised his slugging percentage almost 100 points, and preceded his famous 56-game hitting streak— a record that still stands today (1937)
  • Jonas Salk announced a new vaccine to prevent polio, an acute, viral, infectious disease that by 1910 had resulted in thousands of children and adults paralyzed (1953)
  • Bangladesh celebrates its Independence Day (1971)
  • The film Tommy premiered in London, based on the rock opera by The Who (1975)
  • The first single by Elvis Costello, Less Than Zero, was released (1977)
  • The Camp David peace treaty was signed between Israel & Egypt (1979)
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial Ground-breaking ceremony held in Washington, D.C. (1982)
  • Stanford researchers published a paper announcing the discovery of an antibody that was found to dramatically shrink or completely eradicate human cancer tumors that were transplanted into laboratory mice, no matter which type of cancer created the tumor (2012)

Happy 81st Birthday to one of America’s great investigative reporters, Bob Woodward. Along with partner Carl Bernstein, the two contributed the vast majority of the research that would expose the Watergate Scandal and force Nixon into resignation, described as one of the finest reporting efforts ever made in America. Author of 21 books on politics and current affairs, 13 of which have gone on to top best-seller lists, Woodward remains an honorary associate editor of the Washington Post, the paper for whom he has worked and contributed to for more than 50 years.

Bob Woodward holding a copy of his book on the Watergate Scandal

The Watergate Scandal was reviewed in his book All The Presidents Men which was made into a film of the same name starring Robert Redford as Woodward, and Dustin Hoffman as Bernstein. The film was a big success, and inspired a wave of interest in investigative reporting, and turned Woodward into a celebrity.

Woodward also caused an enormous stir in 1996 when he broke a story that the DOJ was investigating large-scale Chinese Communist Party funding of the Democratic National Committee in the 1996 Presidential Election which saw Bill Clinton take power in the Oval Office.

Hehas won nearly every American journalism award, and former Director of the CIA Robert Gates said in 2014 that he wished he had recruited Woodward into the Agency, saying of him “He has an extraordinary ability to get otherwise responsible adults to spill [their] guts to him…his ability to get people to talk about stuff they shouldn’t be talking about is just extraordinary and may be unique.” (1943)

88 years ago today, an Alaskan nurse named Mary Joyce ended her pioneering journey after setting off into the wilderness with five sled dogs she had inherited for a 1,000-mile dog sled journey from her home in Juneau toward Fairbanks.

Invited to the 1936 March Fairbanks Ice Carnival, she left in December and joined up with a native group that would guide her through the White Pass to Whitehorse. Challenged by illness and blizzard conditions she persevered through temperatures as low as -60°F with no shelter.

A book, Mary Joyce—Taku to Fairbanks, 1,000 Miles by Dogsled, featured her first-hand account of these exploits, going a distance equal to today’s Iditarod sled race.

She was the first white person over a portion of the trail which later became part of the AlCan Highway. Born on a farm in Baraboo, Wisconsin, she was also a pilot, a stewardess, a homesteader, a movie actress, and a territorial government candidate—but always she loved her adopted Alaska, and the Taku Glacier Lodge which she helped to run, until her death in 1976. READ her thoughts about men telling her she couldn’t do it… (1936)

“Is there any reason why a woman should not be as capable as a man?” she wrote. When she told men about her travel plans she often heard, “‘But you can’t do that, there are mountains or something you can’t get over. Anyway it’s no place for a woman.’ Thus man disposes of woman.” Meanwhile, she went “quietly” about her business of getting ready…

And, on this day in 1974, Gaura Devi led a group of 27 women of Laata village, Henwalghati, in the Garhwal Himalayas, to form circles around trees to stop them being felled by loggers. Their protest lasted four days and eventually succeeded when contractors gave up. It was the birth of the Chipko movement in India.

Chipko movement hugging tree in India-fiaruseHappy 80th Birthday to Diana Ross, the Detroit lead singer of Motown’s most successful act—The Supremes (Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Baby Love, and Where Did Our Love Go?), the most popular girl group ever. The Guinness Book of World Records declared Ross the most successful female music artist in history, with the most hits—a career total of 70 hit singles, earned as a Supreme and solo performer. (1944)

Rob Bogaerts: Anefo – Nationaal Archief, 1982 – CC BY-SA 3.0

Also, Happy 76th Birthday to Steven Tyler. The lead singer and songwriter for Aerosmith, his high screams and on-stage acrobatics perfectly propelled hit singles like “Dream On”, “Sweet Emotion” and “Walk This Way.

By Gage Skidmore, 2018 CC license

After drug rehab, he led the band in a remarkable comeback releasing the multi-platinum albums Permanent Vacation, Pump, Get a Grip, and Nine Lives, which produced a combined 13 Top 40 singles and won the band 4 Grammys. Raised in New York City by a classical pianist father, Tyler was also a judge on American Idol and the author of a bestselling book, Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?: a Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir. WATCH him sing Amazing Grace with a church choir… (1948)


And, Happy Birthday to Martin Short who turns 78 today. Born in Canada, the comic actor got his break on Saturday Night Live and won two career Emmys—one for comedic writing. Also a fantastic singer, he has won several theater awards including a 1999 Tony Award for his lead performance on Broadway, in Little Me.

Photo by Dominick D, CC license, 2014

He co-starred with his good friend Steve Martin, with whom he still performs, in the film Three Amigos, and you might remember him in Mars Attacks!, Father of the Bride, The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, or Madagascar 3.

He’s continued to tour in a one-man show, which features many of his best-loved characters (like, Ed Grimley and Katharine Hepburn). Short released a 2014 memoir, covering his 40-year career in show business, entitled I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend. WATCH his hilarious Tonight Show visit in January… (1950)

SHARE the Milestones, Memories, and Music…


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