Good News in History, July 31

Good News in History, July 31

gorbachev-bush-on-time-magazine25 years ago today, American President George H.W. Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed the historic Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, known as Start. The treaty reduced the countries’ stockpiles of nuclear warheads by about a third. (1991)

MORE Good News on this Day:

  • English writer Daniel Defoe (Robinson Crusoe) was placed in a pillory as punishment for writing a satire, but instead of humiliation in the public square, Defoe met sympathy from Londoners who threw flowers instead of vegetables or stones, and drank to his health (1703)
  • Marquis de Lafayette, a 19-year-old French nobleman, was bestowed by the US Congress with the rank and commission of major-general of the United States, “in consideration of his zeal, illustrious family and connexions.”  (1777)
  • A total ban on the use of landmines was announced by the British government, after significant public pressure to endorse an international landmines treaty (1998)
  • The presence of the British Army in Northern Ireland, the longest-running British Army operation ever, came to an end (2007)
  • At the end of his European tour, Bruce Springsteen played his longest show to date – 4 hours and 6 minutes (2012)
  • American swimmer Michael Phelps broke a record held for 48 years by Russian gymnast, Larisa Latynina, when he won his 19th Olympic medal, the most by any athlete in history (2012)

J.K. Rowling Twitter Photo

 

And, on this day in 1965, J.K. Rowling, the author who gave the same birth date to her most famous character–the young wizard, Harry Potter–was born. Rowling went from a single mom supported by welfare to the world’s first female billionaire novelist. Her artful wizarding fantasies became the best-selling book series in history, translated into 73 languages. She’s not on the Forbes’ Billionaires list anymore because she gives so much away–particularly to multiple sclerosis, illiteracy and child welfare charities–but also to the tax man, as a form of patriotism. She said, “I am indebted to the British welfare state…  When my life hit rock bottom, that safety net, threadbare though it had become… was there to break the fall.” To honor her 50th birthday in 2015, Time gathered well-wishes from 17 actors in the Harry Potter films, with whom she worked closely during production. Read them here.

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