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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

On This Day in History - September 13 (Oprah Winfrey, Tupac Shakur, Yasser Arafat...)



September 13, 2004 --- Oprah gives away nearly 300 new cars
On this day in 2004, TV talk-show host Oprah Winfrey gives a brand-new Pontiac G-6 sedan, worth $28,500, to everyone in her studio audience (a total of 276 cars in all). Oprah had told her producers to fill the crowd with people who “desperately needed” the cars, and when she announced the prize (by jumping up and down, waving a giant keyring and yelling “Everybody gets a car! Everybody gets a car!”), mayhem - crying, screaming, delirium, fainting–broke out all around her. It was, as one media expert told a reporter, “one of the great promotional stunts in the history of television.”


Alas, scandal wasn’t far behind. For one thing, the gift wasn’t really from Oprah at all. Pontiac had donated the cars, paying the hefty price tag out of its advertising budget, because the company hoped that that the giveaway would drum up some enthusiasm for its new G-6 line. (To this end, during the segment, Winfrey herself took a tour of a Pontiac plant, gushing over the cars’ satellite radios and fancy navigation systems.) The car company also paid the state sales tax on each of the automobiles it donated. However, that still left the new-car recipients with a large bill for their supposedly free vehicles: Federal and state income taxes added up to about $6,000 for most winners. Some people paid the taxes by taking out car loans; others traded their new Pontiacs for cheaper, less souped-up cars. “It’s not really a free car,” one winner said. “It’s more of a 75 percent-off car. Of course, that’s still not such a bad deal.” 

September 13, 1996 ---Tupac Shakur dies
Hip hop star Tupac Shakur dies on September 13, 1996 of gunshot wounds suffered in a Las Vegas drive-by shooting. The story of Shakur’s death on September 13, 1996, begins with a failed attempt on his life two years earlier. On November 30, 1994, Tupac Shakur was shot and seriously wounded during a robbery committed by two armed men in the lobby of a midtown Manhattan office building that housed a recording studio where he’d been working on his third album, Me Against the World (1995). 

In Las Vegas on September 7, 1996, for the Mike Tyson-Bruce Seldon boxing match, Shakur and others in his entourage were captured on tape in the lobby of the MGM Grand hotel engaging in a violent scuffle with a man later identified as a member of the Los Angeles-based Bloods street gang. Hours later, Shakur was riding as a passenger in a car driven by Death Row Records head Marian “Suge” Knight when a white Cadillac pulled up alongside them at a stoplight on Flamingo Road and opened fire. At least 12 shots were fired, four of which struck Shakur and one of which grazed the head of Suge Knight. Emergency surgery at University Medical Center saved Shakur’s life that night, and in the days following, doctors announced that his chances of recovery had improved. On September 13, 1996. however, Tupac Shakur died of his wounds.

Six months later, Shakur’s rap rival, Christopher Wallace, was murdered in similar circumstances in Los Angeles. No arrest has been made to date in connection with either murder.

September 13, 1993 --- Israel-Palestine peace accord signed
After decades of bloody animosity, representatives of Israel and Palestine meet on the South Lawn of the White House and sign a framework for peace. The “Declaration of Principles” was the first agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians towards ending their conflict and sharing the holy land between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea that they both claim as their homeland.

Fighting between Jews and Arabs in Palestine dates back to the 1920s when both groups laid claim to the British-controlled territory. The Jews were Zionists, recent emigrants from Europe and Russia who came to the ancient homeland of the Jews to establish a Jewish national state. The native Arabs (they did not yet call themselves Palestinians) sought to stem Jewish immigration and set up a secular Palestinian state.

In the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel seized control of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Golan Heights. Israel permanently annexed East Jerusalem and set up military administrations in the occupied territories. Israel let it be known that Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai might be returned in exchange for Arab recognition of the right of Israel to exist and guarantees against future attack. The Sinai was returned to Egypt in 1979 as part of an Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement, but the rest of the occupied territories remained under Israeli control. A faction of Israelis called for permanent annexation of these regions, and in the late 1970s nationalist Jewish settlers moved into the territories as a means of accomplishing this aim.

After the 1967 war, the PLO was recognized as the symbol of the Palestinian national movement, and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat organized guerrilla attacks on Israel from the PLO’s bases in Jordan and, after 1971, from Lebanon. The PLO also coordinated terrorist attacks against Israelis at home and abroad. The Palestinian guerrilla and terrorist activity provoked heavy reprisals from Israel’s armed forces and intelligence services. By the late 1970s, Arafat had won international acceptance of the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

September 13, 1971--- Massacre at Attica Prison
The four-day revolt at the maximum-security Attica Correctional Facility near Buffalo, New York, ends when hundreds of state police officers storm the complex in a hail of gunfire. Thirty-nine people were killed in the disastrous assault, including 29 prisoners and 10 prison guards and employees held hostage since the outset of the ordeal.

On September 9, prisoners rioted and seized control of the overcrowded state prison. One prison guard was fatally beaten. Later that day, state police retook most of the prison, but 1,281 convicts occupied an exercise field called D Yard, where they held 39 prison guards and employees hostage for four days. After negotiations stalled, New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller ordered the state police to regain control of the prison by force. On the rainy Monday morning of September 13, an ultimatum was read to the inmates, calling on them to surrender. They responded by putting knives against the hostages’ throats. At 9:46a.m., helicopters flew over the yard, dropping tear gas as state police and corrections officers stormed in with guns blazing. The police fired 3,000 rounds into the tear gas haze, killing 29 inmates and 10 of the hostages and wounding 89. Most were shot in the initial indiscriminate barrage of gunfire, but other prisoners were shot or killed after they surrendered.

In the aftermath of the bloody raid, authorities said that the inmates had killed the slain hostages by slitting their throats. One hostage was said to have been castrated. However, autopsies showed that these charges were false and that all 10 hostages had been shot to death by police. The attempted cover-up increased public condemnation of the raid and prompted a Congressional investigation.


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