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A Land to the East: A Shining Pan-Arab Republic

Contributed by Alex Shrugged

Since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire 36 years ago, the Arabs have been negotiating for a unification of Arab states. This latest effort is prompted by the success of Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nasser after the Suez Crisis and subsequent Sinai War. Nasser has pulled a diplomatic victory out of the jaws of defeat, so he is a popular guy in some circles... like Syria. The socialist Ba'ath Party is in favor of a merger, so Egypt and Syria become the United Arab Republic. It is a hopeful beginning to a Pan-Arab republic. North Yemen will join later in a confederation called the United Arab States. (FYI, North Yemen eventually merges into a greater Yemen.) Last week the King of Iraq and the King of Jordon formed the Arab Federation. (The kings are cousins.) It collapses a few months later when the King of Iraq is deposed in a military coup backed by the British. Other Pan-Arab republics will come and go. They won't last long probably because the Arabs are made up of several tribes, and to unify them will take a charismatic and strong leader. Nasser won the Sinai War on points, but he needed to win by force-of-arms to make him the credible leader of a Pan-Arab state. No joy this time, so more war is on the way. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Bible fans will recognize the "land to the East" as that region promised to Ishmael, the son of Abraham through the concubine Hagar. Traditionally, Arabs draw their linage through Ishmael and the 12 princes who were his sons. Today, Arabs seem to think that the Land of Israel is... (STOP! A long biblical discussion is hereby mercifully deleted by Alex Shrugged.) Secondly, during World War 1 the Arabs were promised the Mashreq or "East" to be divided (or united) as they saw fit, but in a secret agreement called the Sykes–Picot Agreement, Britain and France agreed to split up the Middle East between them (and the Arabs could take a flying leap). This broken promise became the basis of the current mistrust between the Middle East and the West. From their perspective, the State of Israel is another example of how the West mistreats the Arabs. I know it was all long ago, but like the Irish resentment over the British Ulster Plantation, these things take time to heal. The Ulster Plantation was established in 1606, so we have less than 400 years to go. Mark your calendars. [8] [9] [10]

FYI: Alex Shrugged is Jewish and supports Israel, but is doing his best to present a balanced picture of these events. Your mileage may vary. [11]

The U.S. Air Force (Almost) Nukes South Carolina... and Georgia

Contributed by Alex Shrugged

"Not too many people can say they've had a nuclear bomb dropped on them."
-- Walter Gregg recalling when a nuclear weapon landed in his backyard. [12]

Luckily, the bomb is unarmed and it contains no fissionable material. (FYI, even without nuclear material inside, a nuclear bomb contains enough explosives to upset Aunt Jenny's Sunday picnic real good. Know what I mean?) Although the Air Force claims that the bomb was released from 15,000 feet, residents say that the B-47 Stratojet sounded like it was right on top of them. A 6-kiloton nuclear package lands in the backyard of Walter Gregg, a railway conductor. He is in his garage with his son making a bench. It is not clear what the Air Force has against railway workers or handmade benches, but clearly... they missed. All joking aside, what happened is that during a military exercise, the co-pilot realized that the bomb was not properly secured, so he hit the button that would secure the bomb. IT WAS THE WRONG BUTTON! Hal opened the pod-bay doors, and all hell broke loose. The bomb left a crater 75 feet wide and about 30 feet deep. People had cuts and bruises, but no one was killed. Gregg and his family move to Florence. The hole remains. [13]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Are we done yet? HECK NO! A Mark 15 hydrogen bomb is lost off of Tybee Island near Savannah, Georgia. Yet another B-47 Stratojet is carrying an honest-to-Heavens LIVE nuclear weapon. The Stratojet is involved in a mid-air collision with an F-86 fighter plane. The fighter pilot ejects, and the Stratojet drops 18,000 feet. It can still fly, but no one knows for how long. In order to insure that the B-47 doesn't blow up, killing the crew and everyone within 10 miles of the landing strip, they drop the bomb into the drink. They search for it later, but they can't find it. In a report from 2001 the Air Force concludes that, "it is in the best interest of the public and the environment to leave the bomb in its resting-place". There are times when it is forgivable to shout something vulgar: when you hit your thumb with a hammer, when you slam your fingers in the car door, and when you lose a HYDROGEN FRICKIN' BOMB!) So... the bomb is still out there? Yes, it is. Loud shouting may commence. [14] [15]

The Cod Wars - No, that's not a typo

Contributed by Southpaw Ben

This war was between Iceland and the UK, with West Germany also taking sides with the UK. On September 1st 1958, an Icelandic law went into effect that expanded the Icelandic fishery zone from 4 nautical miles to 12 nautical miles. All NATO members were opposed to this new law, most notably the UK, which was most directly affected by this law, as many of it's commercial fishermen had fished these cod rich waters exclusively, supporting thousands of British jobs. From the enactment of this law until March 11th 1961, the UK declared that their fishing trawlers would be under protection by their warships. There were 20 British trawlers being guarded by 4 warships. Between September 1958 until February 1960, the UK spent around half a million pounds on oil on the 53 warships that rotated through the Icelandic fishing areas. On the other had, Iceland only deployed seven patrol vessels and a flying boat, and only one of which could actually take action and arrest and tow a trawler into harbor. In the end, there were no casualties, despite several close calls, and Iceland "won", with the UK eventually agreeing to the terms put forth by Iceland prior to the law taking effect in 1958. [16] [17]

My Take by Southpaw Ben
In the end, between 1958 and 1976 there were three different Cod Wars between Iceland and some combination of UK, West Germany and Belgium. These three conflicts resulted in a grand total of 1 death, 1 wounded, and 21 vessels damaged. Because of the lack of a declaration of war, and how little actual fighting there was, most don't consider the Cod Wars to be actual wars. However, it can be seen as an example of a successful guerrilla action, as Iceland, which had a much smaller navy than the UK was able to leverage the advantages they did have to their advantage. Their biggest leverage was the political leverage they had as a result of having vital US bases they could threaten to close. Due to this, NATO was forced to mediate the conflict and get the UK to agree to Icelandic terms for the resolution of this conflict. Alex Shrugged pointed out to me one other major reason the US was forced to side with Iceland; the 12 mile limit came from a US law, signed by President Truman to stop Japanese from fishing along the cost of Alaska, as well as to claim control of the mineral resources found within the 12 miles, which was based on the size of the continental shelf.

Notable Births

  • Mark Cuban: Owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Landmark Theatres, and member of TV's Shark Tank. [18]
  • Billy Mays (died 2009, age 50): TV pitchman. He died after he offered affordable health insurance. (Pure coincidence, I'm sure.-- alexsshrugged) [18] [19]
  • Tim Kaine: US Senator (D) Virginia and 2016 VP candidate with Hillary Clinton. [18]
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson: Astrophysicist, and host of TV's Cosmos. (Fun guy. Filled with BS... bad science.--alexshrugged) [18]
  • Karen Pence: Wife of VP Mike Pence and Second Lady of the United States. [18]
  • And in Entertainment...
  • -- Directors: Chris Columbus and Tim Burton. [18]
  • -- In Music: Alan Jackson, Ice-T, Madonna, Michael Jackson (died 2009, aged 50) and Prince (died 2016, age 57). [18]
  • -- In Comedy: Ellen DeGeneres, Drew Carey, and Jeff Foxworthy. [18]
  • -- Gary Oldman: The Fifth Element, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, The Space Between Us, and more. [18]
  • -- Alec Baldwin: Beetlejuice, The Hunt for Red October, TV's 30 Rock and President Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live. [18]

This Year in Film

  • Gigi: A young French girl is trained to become a consort. "Thank Heaven for Little Girls!" is the popular song from that film. [20] [21]
  • South Pacific: World War 2 in song. (It doesn't have to make sense. It's a musical.--alexshrugged) [20]
  • No Time for Sergeants: Andy Griffith plays a country boy drafted into the Army. (It is hilarious.--alexshrugged) [20]
  • B-Movie horror films: The Fly, The Blob, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, Return of the Fly, and Return of Frankenstein (but no return to sanity--alexshrugged). [20]

This Year in Music

  • Volare: An Italian song. The half-English version is sung by Dean Martin. [22] [23] [24] [25]
  • (Hang down your head) Tom Dooley: The Kingston Trio. [22] [26]
  • The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late): David Seville keeps Simon, Theodore and Alvin under control... mostly. [22] [27] [28]
  • Elvis Presley is inducted into the Army: It is a media event. He tries to remain a normal soldier even though he is not. The record company releases unpublished recordings, and Elvis records songs while on leave. This keeps his career going. He will meet Priscilla, his future wife, next year. SHE IS 14-YEARS-OLD! (Elvis, you dog!--alexshrugged) His induction inspires the stage production, movie and song "Bye Bye Birdie". (The song is sung poorly but enthusiastically by a young Ann-Margret.--alexshrugged) [29] [30] [31]

In Other News

  • Linus Pauling warns of radioactive Carbon 14 in the atmosphere: He is an activist, but C-14 is increasing, and his findings are published in Science, a peer-reviewed journal. [32] [33] [34]
  • The Patron Saint of... Television?: Saint Clare of Assisi (born Jul, 16 1194, died August 11, 1253, canonized September 26, 1255) is declared the patron saint of television by Pope Pius XII. [35][36]
  • The Baby Boom Ends: 1958 marks the end of post war baby boom and starts a record 11 year decline of birth rate. However it still remains elevated above the pre-war average for several more years. [37]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1958, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. United Arab Republic - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 21 February 2017. “a short-lived political union between Egypt and Syria. The union began in 1958 and existed until 1961, when Syria seceded from the union after the 1961 Syrian coup d'état. Egypt continued to be known officially as the 'United Arab Republic' until 1971. The president was Gamal Abdel Nasser. It was a member of the United Arab States, a loose confederation with North Yemen which in 1961 dissolved along with the Republic.”
  2. United Arab States - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 21 February 2017. “The United Arab Republic was a sovereign state formed by the union of Egypt and Syria in 1958. The same year, the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen (North Yemen), which had already signed a defense pact with Egypt, joined with the new state in 1958 in a loose confederation called the United Arab States. However, unlike the member countries of the United Arab Republic, Yemen remained an independent sovereign state.”
  3. Arab Federation - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 21 February 2017. “The Federation was formed on 14 February 1958, when King Faisal II of Iraq and his cousin, King Hussein of Jordan, sought to unite their two Hashemite kingdoms, as a response to the formation of the United Arab Republic. The union lasted only six months, being officially dissolved on 2 August 1958, after Faisal was deposed by a military coup on 14 July.”
  4. Federation of Arab Republics - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 21 February 2017. “an attempt by Libya's Muammar Gaddafi to merge Libya, Egypt and Syria in order to create a United Arab state. Although approved by a referendum in each country on 1 September 1971, the three countries disagreed on the specific terms of the merger. The federation lasted from 1 January 1972 to 19 November 1977. It is not to be confused with the United Arab Republic, which was a single sovereign state uniting Egypt and Syria.”
  5. Pan-Arabism - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 21 February 2017. “It was not until Nasser that Arab nationalism (in addition to Arab socialism) became a state policy and a means with which to define Egypt's position in the Middle East and the world, usually articulated vis-à-vis Zionism in the neighboring Jewish state of Israel. There have been several attempts to bring about a pan-Arab state by many well-known Arab leaders, all of which ultimately resulted in failure. British Foreign Minister Anthony Eden called for Arab unity during the 1940s, and was followed by specific proposals from pro-British leaders, including King Abdullah of Transjordan and Prime Minister Nuri al-Said of Iraq, but Egyptian proposals for a broader grouping of independent Arab states prevailed with the establishment of the League of Arab States, a regional international organization, in 1945. In large part representing the popularity Nasser had gained among the masses in the Arab world following the Suez crisis, the United Arab Republic (UAR) in 1958 was the first case of the actual merger of two previously-independent Arab countries. Hastily formed under President Nasser's leadership but on the initiative of Syrian leaders who feared a takeover by communists or 'reactionaries' and hoped to lead the new entity, the UAR was a unitary state, not a federal union, with its critics seeing this as hardly more than a small country being annexed by a larger one.”
  6. Key facts about the war in Yemen - News from Al Jazeera (June 2016). Retrieved on 22 February 2017. “The Houthis and the Yemeni government have battled on-and-off since 2004, but much of the fighting was confined to the Houthis' stronghold, northern Yemen's impoverished Saada province.”
  7. 1958 Iraqi coup d'état - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 22 February 2017. “The 1958 Iraqi coup d'état or the 14 July Revolution took place on 14 July 1958 in Iraq, resulting in the overthrow of the Hashemite monarchy established by King Faisal I in 1921 under the auspices of the British.”
  8. Mashriq - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 21 February 2017. “The Mashriq (also Mashreq, Mashrek) is the region of the Arab world to the east of Egypt. This comprises Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Iraq. Poetically the 'place of sunrise', the name is derived from the verb sharaqa ('to shine, illuminate, radiate' and 'to rise'), referring to the east, where the sun rises.”
  9. European Neighbourhood Policy in the Mashreq Countries: Enhancing Prospects for Reform - Centre for European Policy Studies (2017). Retrieved on 22 February 2017. “in the Mashreq region (covering Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian territories)”
  10. Genesis 25 - The Death of Abraham - Abraham had - Bible Gateway (2017). Retrieved on 22 February 2017. “5 Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. 6 But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east.”
  11. Alex Shrugged notes: Tom Clancy fans will recognize the origins of the story line behind his novel, "Executive Orders," where the Iranians attempt to unify the Arab world the hard way. (Of course, Clancy's plots are more complex than that, so it includes an ebola attack on the USA, and more.)
  12. Man Recalls Day A Nuclear Bomb Fell On His Yard. The Sun News (November 24, 2003). Retrieved on 22 February 2017. “'Not too many people can say they've had a nuclear bomb dropped on them,' said Gregg, now a garrulous 82. 'Not too many would want to.'”
  13. Boeing B-47 Stratojet - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 22 February 2017. “an American long range, six-engine, turbojet-powered strategic bomber designed to fly at high subsonic speed and at high altitude to avoid enemy interceptor aircraft. The B-47's primary mission was to drop nuclear bombs on the Soviet Union.”
  14. America's Lost H Bomb DVD - A Documentary on the lost Tybee bomb. (2014). Retrieved on 22 February 2017. “In 1958, a damaged U.S. B-47 bomber jettisons a nuclear bomb off the coast of Savannah Georgia containing 350 pounds of conventional explosives and an undisclosed quantity of highly enriched uranium. The bomb's explosive yield is 100 times that of the Hiroshima bomb. For weeks, the U.S. Navy and Air Force search for the bomb in the silty waters around Tybee Island. Deemed 'irretrievably lost,' the 7,600 pound nuclear Tybee bomb is still out there…”
  15. "Lost: One H-Bomb. Call Owner (washingtonpost.com)", April 17, 2005. Retrieved on 22 February 2017. “After a weeks-long search, it was 'declared irretrievably lost on 16 April 1958,' the Air Force reported four years ago in an assessment of whether to conduct a new search and recovery mission. It concluded that 'it is in the best interest of the public and the environment to leave the bomb in its resting-place.'” 
  16. Cod Wars - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 22 February 2017.
  17. Kurlansky, Mark. Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World. Walker and Co.. ISBN 0802713262. “Then, in 1945, because the United States wanted to protect its offshore oil production, a new concept in international law appeared. President Harry Truman issued a proclamation stating that the United States had the right to control mineral resources on its continental shelf. No one had ever owned a continental shelf. The banks did not belong to the United States and Canada. England did not own its shelf. No one owned the North Sea. Since cod and most other commercial fish are mostly found on continental shelves, the implications for fishing were enormous.” 
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 18.6 18.7 18.8 18.9 1958 Births - Wikipedia (2017).
  19. Affordable Health Insurance - Billy Mays - New iCan Commercial - YouTube (2017). Retrieved on 21 February 2017. “Billy Mays, along with his family, tell us about the 'most important product' he's ever endorsed: affordable health insurance with iCan.”
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 1958 in film - Wikipedia (2017).
  21. Maurice Chevalier - Thank Heaven For Little Girls - YouTube (2017). Retrieved on 21 February 2017.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 1958 in music - Wikipedia (2017).
  23. Volare (song) - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 21 February 2017. “'Nel blu dipinto di blu' (Italian pronunciation: [nel ˈblu ddiˈpinto di ˈblu]; literally 'In the blue that is painted blue'), popularly known as 'Volare' [voˈlaːre] (meaning 'To fly'), is a song recorded by Italian singer-songwriter Domenico Modugno. Written by Franco Migliacci and Domenico Modugno, it was released as a single on 1 February 1958.”
  24. Volare - Domenico Modugno - Nel blu dipinto di blu - YouTube (2017). Retrieved on 21 February 2017. “Domenico Modugno sings Nel blu dipinto di blu also known as Volare on Ed Sullivan's show in 1958.”
  25. Dean Martin - Volare - YouTube (2017). Retrieved on 21 February 2017.
  26. The Kingston Trio - Tom Dooley - 1958 - YouTube (2017). Retrieved on 21 February 2017.
  27. The Chipmunks with David Seville - The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late) 1958 - YouTube (2017). Retrieved on 21 February 2017. “The Chipmunks with David Seville - The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)”
  28. Alvin And The Chipmunks - Christmas Song (Motion Picture Soundtrack) - YouTube (2017). Retrieved on 21 February 2017.
  29. Bye Bye Birdie - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 21 February 2017. “Originally titled Let's Go Steady, Bye Bye Birdie is set in 1958. The story was inspired by the phenomenon of popular singer Elvis Presley and his draft notice into the Army in 1957. The rock star character's name, 'Conrad Birdie', is word play on the name of Conway Twitty.”
  30. Bye Bye Birdie (trailer) - YouTube (2017). Retrieved on 21 February 2017.
  31. Bye Bye Birdie Intro Song and Outro Song Together!!! - YouTube (2017). Retrieved on 21 February 2017. “The introduction and end song for the classic musical Bye Bye Birdie featuring Anne-Margaret. Other great actors in this fun filled musical are Dick Van Dyke, Janet Leigh and Bobby Rydell.”
  32. 1958 - Wikipedia (2017).
  33. Asimov, Isaac. Isaac Asimov's Book of Facts. Bell Pub. Co.. ISBN 0517361116. “Linus Pauling pointed out the dangers of carbon-14 (a radioactive atom that is part of all living tissue) in detailed form in a paper in Science in 1958. This may well have been one of the deciding factors a few years later in the elimination of atmospheric testing of nuclear bombs in the test-ban treaty signed by the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union.” 
  34. Linus Pauling - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 21 February 2017. “In February 1958, Pauling participated in a publicly televised debate with the atomic physicist Edward Teller about the actual probability of fallout causing mutations. Later in 1958, Pauling published No more war!, in which he not only called for an end to the testing of nuclear weapons but also an end to war itself. He proposed that a World Peace Research Organization be set up as part of the United Nations to 'attack the problem of preserving the peace'.”
  35. 1958 - Wikipedia (2017).
  36. Clare of Assisi - Wikipedia (2017).
  37. 1958 - Wikipedia (2017).

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