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On this day April 20, 1862

French chemist Louis Pasteur and physiologist Claude Bernard completed the first test on pasteurization.

Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur

Claude Bernard

Claude Bernard

Pasteurization is a process which slows microbial growth in foods. The process was named after its creator, French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur.  The process was originally conceived as a way of preventing wine and beer from souring. Read More…

On this day April 14, 1434

The foundation stone of Cathedral St. Peter and St. Paul in Nantes, France is laid by John, Duke of Brittany and Jean de Malestroit, Bishop of Nantes.

cathedrale_saint-pierre_de_nantesThe first architect in charge was Guillaume de Dammartin who was later replaced by Mathurin Rodier. The construction began with the west façade, the aisles of the nave and its lateral chapels.

The construction of the cathedral began in 1434, on the site of a Romanesque cathedral, and took 457 years to finish, finally reaching completion in 1891.

On 28 January 1972 a gigantic fire started on the roof. Firemen managed to bring it under control, but the timber frame was severely damaged, and many other damages were inflicted. This event led to what was undoubtedly the most complete interior restoration of a cathedral in France.

Nuclear Security Summit

President Barack Obama open the 47-nation Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.  The president says he wants new commitments to secure weapons-grade plutonium and uranium to prevent nuclear terrorism.

With concerns about the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea a major backdrop to the conference, this is the biggest U.S.-sponsored gathering of world leaders in more than 60 years.

The New START treaty was signed on April 8, 2010 in Prague by U.S. President Obama and Russian President Medvedev and Iran will hold the Tehran International Conference on Disarmament and Non- Proliferation, 2010, announced on April 4, 2010 and to be held April 17–18, 2010.

The Summit is the largest gathering of heads of state called by a United States president since the 1945 United Nations Conference on International Organization. Delegations from forty-six governments plus the United States are attending, thirty-eight of which are represented by heads of state or government. Read More…

Eurozone growth lowered to zero

According to revised official figures, the economy of the eurozone, the sixteen European countries using the euro, did not grow at all in the final quarter of last year. Eurostat reports that the number was revised from an initial figure of +0.1%.

Eurozone 2010

Meanwhile, the eurozone’s lost more than 2.2% in a year-on year comparison, more than the initial estimate of 2.1%.

According to the numbers, Ireland saw an output drop of 2.3% in the last quarter of 2009, while Greece, the country in the eurozone with the most debt, had its economy contract by 0.8%. Italy was down by 0.3%, Germany saw no gain, but France posted a 0.6% quarterly growth.

The Associated Press reports the stagnation was unexpected by analysts, and will only reinforce expectations that the European Central Bank will keep the key interest rate at one percent for most of 2010.

On this day April 7, 1954

U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower gives his “domino theory” speech during a news conference, though he did not use the term “domino theory”.

If Communists succeeded in taking over the rest of Indochina, Eisenhower argued, local groups would then have the encouragement, material support and momentum to take over Burma, Thailand, Malaya and Indonesia; all of these countries had large popular Communist movements and insurgencies within their borders at the time.

In March 1954, the Viet Minh, a Communist and nationalist army, defeated French troops and took control of what became North Vietnam. This caused the French to fully withdraw from the region then known as French Indochina, a process it had begun earlier. The region now comprised four independent countries: North Vietnam, South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Read More…

On this day March 31, 1889

The Eiffel Tower is inaugurated. The structure was built between 1887 and 1889 as the entrance arch for the Exposition Universelle, a World’s Fair marking the centennial celebration of the French Revolution.

Eiffel Tower under construction

Eiffel Tower under construction

Eiffel originally planned to build the tower in Barcelona, for the Universal Exposition of 1888, but those responsible at the Barcelona city hall thought it was a strange and expensive construction, which did not fit into the design of the city.

After the refusal of the Consistory of Barcelona, Eiffel submitted his draft to those responsible for the Universal Exhibition in Paris, where he would build his tower a year later, in 1889. Read More…

Sarkozy’s party humbled by leftists

The Socialist Party took a strong lead in a first round of regional elections in France on Sunday and its main opposition the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party which is the governing party of President Nicolas Sarkozy is headed for a huge defeat.

President Nicolas Sarkozy

The election results, characterized with mass abstentions, was strongly favoring leftist candidates according to official results nearing completion.

This has given the ruling right wing party a stern blow in the last nationwide election before the 2012 presidential elections.

When 96% of votes had been counted, candidates from the Socialist and other leftist parties had won 53.6 percent votes according to the Interior Ministry. The conservative UMP party and other right-wing candidates won 39.8 percent. The far-right National Front outdid expectations with 12% of the vote. Read More…

On this day March 10, 1831

King Louis-Philippe of France created the French Foreign Legion as a unit of foreign volunteers because foreigners were forbidden to serve in the French Army after the 1830 July Revolution.

Légionnaire in modern uniform

Légionnaire

The Legion was also seen as a convenient way to dispose of numerous recently-displaced foreign nationals (many of whom were thought to hold revolutionary political beliefs) by sending them to Algeria to fight in the French campaign of colonialization.

The Legion was primarily used to protect and expand the French colonial empire during the 19th century, but it also fought in all French wars including the Franco-Prussian War and both World Wars.

The Foreign Legion has remained an important part of the French Army.

It has survived three Republics, one empire, two World Wars, the rise and fall of mass conscript armies, the dismantling of the French colonial empire and the French loss of the legion’s birthplace, Algeria. Read More…

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