Also on this day
Monkey Trial begins
In Dayton, Tennessee, the so-called “Monkey Trial” begins with John Thomas Scopes, a young high school science teacher, accused of teaching evolution in violation of a Tennessee state law. The law, which had been passed in March, made it a misdemeanor punishable by fine to “teach any theory that denies the...
British General Richard Prescott captured in Rhode Island
Colonel William Barton of the Rhode Island Patriot militia captures British General Richard Prescott, from his bed, during the early morning hours of this day in 1777. Prescott was the only British general to suffer the ignominy of being captured twice by Patriot forces during the War for Independence. American...
U.S. Patent issued for three-point seatbelt
The United States Patent Office issues the Swedish engineer Nils Bohlin a patent for his three-point automobile safety belt “for use in vehicles, especially road vehicles” on this day in 1962. Four years earlier, Sweden’s Volvo Car Corporation had hired Bohlin, who had previously worked in the Swedish aviation industry, as...
Siege on Battery Wagner begins
On this day, Union troops land on Morris Island near Charleston, South Carolina, and prepare for a siege on Battery Wagner, a massive sand fortress on the island. In the summer of 1863, Union General Quincy Gillmore waged an unsuccessful campaign to capture Charleston. Although the city was an...
Gorbachev re-elected as head of Communist Party
In a vindication of his sweeping economic and political reforms, Mikhail Gorbachev withstands severe criticisms from his opponents and is re-elected head of the Soviet Communist Party by an overwhelming margin. Gorbachev’s victory was short-lived, however, as the Soviet Union collapsed in late 1991. Gorbachev came to power in the...
The Exxon Valdez captain’s conviction is overturned
The Alaska court of appeals overturns the conviction of Joseph Hazelwood, the former captain of the oil tanker Exxon Valdez. Hazelwood, who was found guilty of negligence for his role in the massive oil spill in Prince William Sound in 1989, successfully argued that he was entitled to immunity from...
Dam collapses in Switzerland, kills 70
On this day in 1887, a dam breaks in Zug, Switzerland, killing 70 people in their homes and destroying a large section of the town. The dam at Zug was 80 feet high and made of concrete. When the dam was built, concrete-making and setting techniques were not...
Allies land on Sicily
On July 10, 1943, the Allies begin their invasion of Axis-controlled Europe with landings on the island of Sicily, off mainland Italy. Encountering little resistance from the demoralized Sicilian troops, the British 8th Army under Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery came ashore on the southeast of the island, while the...
Hugh Grant appears on Tonight Show after Hollywood arrest
On this day in 1995, Hugh Grant appears on late-night television’s The Tonight Show less than two weeks after being arrested with a Hollywood prostitute. The show’s host, Jay Leno, famously asked the English actor, “What the hell were you thinking?” Grant, who shot to stardom with the 1994 hit British...
Alice Munro is born
Canadian short story writer Alice Munro is born in Wingham, Ontario, on this day in 1931. Munro was raised on a fox and turkey farm. Her parents encouraged her to read, and she decided to become a writer during her childhood. She attended the University of Western Ontario but dropped out...
Jazz great Jelly Roll Morton dies
On this day in 1941, Jelly Roll Morton—a native of New Orleans who became the first great jazz pianist, composer, arranger and bandleader—dies in Los Angeles, California. Born Ferdinand Joseph Lamothe in New Orleans (his year of birth is recorded variously as 1885 and 1890), he was the son of...
“Buckskin” Frank Leslie murders a prostitute
In a drunken rage, “Buckskin” Frank Leslie murders his lover, the Tombstone prostitute Blonde Mollie Williams. Leslie was an ill-tempered and violent man, especially when he drank. He told conflicting stories about his early life. At times, he said he was from Texas, at other times from Kentucky. He sometimes claimed...
Millard Fillmore sworn in as president
On this day in 1850, Vice President Millard Fillmore is sworn in as the 13th president of the United States. President Zachary Taylor had died the day before, five days after falling ill with a severe intestinal ailment on the Fourth of July. Fillmore’s manner of ascending to the presidency earned...
U.S. women win World Cup
On July 10, 1999, the U.S. women’s soccer team defeats China to win their second Women’s World Cup. The game ended in a 5-4 shootout after 120 scoreless minutes: 90 tightly played minutes of regulation dictated by the United States and 30 tense minutes of overtime largely controlled by the...
MiGs shot down as bombing of North Vietnam continues
U.S. planes continue heavy raids in South Vietnam and claim to have killed 580 guerrillas. U.S. Phantom jets, escorting fighter-bombers in a raid on the Yen Sen ammunition depot northwest of Hanoi, engaged North Vietnamese MiG-17s. Capt. Thomas S. Roberts with his backseater Capt. Ronald C. Anderson, and Capt. Kenneth...
Heavy fighting continues near An Loc and the Central Highlands
Outnumbered South Vietnamese troops repel an attack by two battalions of the 141st North Vietnamese Regiment on a military camp five miles east of An Loc, 60 miles north of Saigon. Communist forces captured a third of the base camp before they were thrown back with the assistance of U.S....
World War I1917
German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg resigns
On July 10, 1917, Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg, chancellor of Germany, resigns his position after failing to control the divided German Reichstag (government) as World War I threatened to stretch into its fourth agonizing year. A former Prussian minister of the interior and state secretary in the Imperial German Office, Bethmann...
World War II1940
The Battle of Britain begins
On this day in 1940, the Germans begin the first in a long series of bombing raids against Great Britain, as the Battle of Britain, which will last three and a half months, begins. After the occupation of France by Germany, Britain knew it was only a matter of time before...
The French secret-service agent who led an attack on a Greenpeace ship that killed photographer Fernando Pereira 30 years ago has apologized publicly for the first time.
Speaking to the New Zealand station TVNZ on Sunday, Jean-Luc Kister said now was the right time to apologize to Pereira and his family for what he said was an “accident.”
“Now that emotions have calmed, and also with the hindsight I have regarding my professional life, I thought that this was a chance for me to express both my deepest regrets and my apologies,” Kister told TVNZ.
On July 10, 1985, Greenpeace activists on board the Rainbow Warrior, which was moored in Auckland, were preparing to sail to French Polynesia to protest against French nuclear testing on Mururoa atoll.
In what the BBC called one of the most notorious acts of state sabotage, Kister and his 12-man team, who were working for the French spy agency DGSE, planted two mines on the vessel. The explosions sank the Rainbow Warrior and killed Portuguese photographer Pereira.
Kister said that it was not his team’s intention to kill anybody in the attack. “I have the blood of an innocent man on my conscience, and that weighs on me,” he told French investigative site Mediapart.
Kister said the mission, which was ordered by then French Defense Minister Charles Hernu was “disproportionate” and “an unfair clandestine operation conducted in an allied, friendly and peaceful country.”
But, he pointed out, “We had to obey orders, we were soldiers.”
Greenpeace said in a statement that the apology “will not bring Fernando back but proves once again that our colleague was sacrificed in the name of a state interest that even one of the state’s servants is calling into question.”
Two other agents who took part, Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur, were arrested in New Zealand two days after the attack and sentenced to 10 years in jail for manslaughter. They were transferred to French Polynesia as part of a settlement and released two years later.
France paid $8.2 million in damages to Greenpeace and in 1996 stopped the nuclear testing that the activist group protested.