What Happened on January 13?

  • Henry Ford patented a plastic car. (1942) The car was actually made of soybean derivatives, and was 30 percent lighter than a normal car at the time. Known as the "soybean car," the design was abandoned when World War II diverted the focus of the auto industry.

  • The USSR boycotted the United Nations Security Council. (1950) The USSR had been unhappy with the UN's refusal to recognize the government of the People's Republic of China, and refused to attend security council meetings in hopes of preventing the council from any further action. The council continued to operate, and undertook the decision to send troops to fight in the Korean War during the USSR's absence, an action which the USSR likely would have vetoed.

  • Emile Zola exposed the Dreyfus affair in a French newspaper. (1898) Alfred Dreyfus had been sentenced to life in solitary confinement after allegedly passing military secrets to the German embassy. Dreyfus was later found to be innocent, but was still kept in jail on fabricated evidence, and the whole thing was covered up. Writer Emile Zola exposed the whole cover-up in his letter "J'Accuse," which started an intense political scandal, eventually leading to Dreyfus' release.

  • One British survivor escaped Kabul after his 16,000 man troop was massacred. (1842) British authorities had been trying to establish authority in Afghanistan to protect their holdings in India. Dr. William Brydon was the only survivor of an exploratory expedition to Kabul, which ended when Afghans massacred the troops in the Khyber Pass.

  • Allied leaders promised to prosecute war criminals. (1942) As word of the atrocities committed by the Axis forces began to leak out, Allied leaders met in London to agree on how to deal with them after the war. This was one of the first times the idea of "war crimes" was recognized and one of the first times it was decided to officially punish those that committed them.

  • An ejection seat was first used in a fighter jet. (1942) Before the ejection seat was designed, it was incredibly difficult for a pilot to get out of a fighter jet if something went wrong. This invention is still commonly used, and has saved hundreds of lives.

  • Gunslinger Wyatt Earp died. (1929) Earp was a famous outlaw and gunslinger, and was one of the main people involved in the shootout at the OK Corral. Earp died quietly in Los Angeles at age 80.

  • The Colored National Labor Union was founded. (1869) The CNLU was one of the first national associations of black leaders in America. Frederick Douglass was the second leader of the CNLU.

  • A vote in Saarland, a state in Germany, showed that 90 percent of the population wished to join Nazi Germany. (1935) Saarland had been occupied by allied forces after World War I, and developed heavy anti-French sentiments. When their term of occupation was over, the state voted overwhelmingly to rejoin Nazi Germany.

  • The Pope recognized the Knights Templar. (1128) The Knights Templar was a military order that protected Christians on their pilgrimages to the Holy Land. The order was later persecuted by the Catholic Church, and has since played a large role in conspiracy theories.

Discussion Comments


Does anyone else find it funny how when many inventions are first being produced, the designs and concepts can be downright silly? Obviously, it's always a good place to start somewhere, but on the other hand, some of the earlier designs don't make much sense.

On another note, even though Henry Ford was the one who patented the plastic car, who was the inventor the first real car, and even more so, where did the idea of the car come from? Was it originally built as a means to get around to places much faster? If so, that was definitely a brilliant idea.

Overall, I think it's something interesting to think about. After all, let's look at it this way. Even though it might seem downright ridiculous to make a car out of soybean derivatives, it still defined what cars have become today.

For example, let's look at it this way. When people first started building the car, if they weren't willing to take risks, and experiment with what they have, then transportation might be a whole lot different today.

With cars, we can get around a lot easier, we don't always have to walk to places, and even more so, they're a lot faster than the horses people used to ride.


The third bullet point seems to bring up some interesting points about not only being a spy, but about secrets as well.

I don't know about anyone else, but until I learned about the secrecy of military secrets in school, I didn't realize how much of a crime it was to reveal them, especially even as far back as the 1800's.

While there might be some people who wouldn't think sharing secrets is that big of a deal (especially when compared to the likes of murder), don't forget that military secrets are confidential for a reason, and only those who have the right to know about it, are allowed to have the knowledge of it.

In fact, speaking of which, this can also go back to why going into other countries and spying is considered such a serious offense, if you're to get caught.

When one is a spy, and they're learning secrets, what they're doing is against the law, especially because they're not even associated with said group. If they're revealed to be a fake, it's treason of the highest order.


In relation to the fifth bullet point, one thing that I've always been confused about is the likeness of war criminals. Has anyone else? For me, the main reason why is due to the fact that from what I've learned in school, some of these so called war "criminals" aren't even criminals at all. Using one example, is when the Vietnam War was being discussed in my class.

During this discussion, my teacher said that there were many soldiers who were mocked and criticized when they came home from the war. To make a long story short, they had been accused of raping and murdering children from villages, and it all leaked out to the public. Overall, I think some people need to get their facts straight before they begin to make such serious accusations. However, that's not to say there aren't exceptions.

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