First News
Volume:7, Number:49
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FUN FACTS
THIS WEEK

Country That Missed Moon Landing

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South Africa was one of the few countries that were unable to watch the moon landing live in 1969. At the time, television was banned in South Africa, because the government feared television would promote race mixing for nonwhites, and the country’s Apartheid might be undermined. Prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd compared television with atomic bombs and poison gas, claiming that they are modern things, but that does not mean they are desirable. Television in South Africa was introduced in 1976.

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Negro Seaman Acts

These were laws passed in South Carolina, which allowed people to imprison free African-American sailors while their ships were docked in South Carolina. In fact, they were required to be jailed for the duration of the vessel’s visit! The captain had to pay their jail fees to get them out. If the captain refused to pay the jail fees, the sailors could be sold into slavery. This law was on the books in South Carolina from 1822 to 1863.

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Origin of the Word Vitamin

The word “vitamine” was first created very recently: in 1912! It was a Franken word combining “vita,” the Latin word for “life,” and “amine” because that is the chemical term for an amino acid and vitamins were thought to contain amino acids. The “e” was removed in 1920 when scientists figured out there was no amino acid in vitamins.

Compiled by: Sameer Miyaz Ahmed

Famous People, Funny Stories

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In a meeting during World War I, Germany's Wilhelm II and the Netherlands' queen Wilhelmina had a historic battle of wits: "Our guardsmen," Wilhelm boasted, "are seven feet tall." "But when we open our dikes," the queen replied, "the waters are ten feet deep."

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When the German delegation came to Marshal Foch at the end of the World War I to ask for armistice terms, the Frenchman picked up a paper from his desk and read a set of conditions. “But there must be some mistakes,” the leader of the German officers stammered in dismay. “These are terms which no civilized nation could impose upon another!” Foch replied gravely. “No, gentlemen, these are not our terms. These are the terms imposed on Lille by the German commander when that city surrendered.”

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During the negotiations at Versailles following World War I, Woodrow Wilson adamantly opposed the concession of the Adriatic port of Fiume to Italy. V. E. Orlando, leading the Italian delegation, eloquently presented Italy's case: given that Fiume's population, language, and culture were all largely Italian, its right to the city was irrefutable. "I hope you won't press the point in respect to New York City," Wilson retorted, "or you might feel like claiming a sizable piece of Manhattan Island."

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Toward the end of his life, Winston Churchill visited the House of Commons. A buzz throughout the room accompanied his presence, taking away from attention to the debate at hand. "They say he is potty," murmured one Member of Parliament. "They say he cannot hear either," murmured back Churchill.

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