World Health Organization officially names novel coronavirus disease COVID-19

A few months after the first known case was detected in Wuhan, China, and approximately three weeks after the first U.S. case was reported, on February 11, 2020, the World Health Organization officially named the illness that would go on to cause a pandemic “coronavirus disease 2019,” shortened to the acronym COVID-19.

Often referred to as the “Wuhan virus” in its very early stages, and also “nCoV-2019,” WHO guidelines state that names for new infectious diseases may not include geographic locations, animals, individuals or groups of people and must be pronounceable. CO stands for corona, VI is for virus, D is for disease and 2019 represents the year it was first discovered.

“Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a media briefing announcing the name. “It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks.”

Since its onset, COVID-19 rapidly spread to every continent. By February 2021, it resulted in more than 105 million global cases and 2.3 million deaths, including more than 455,000 deaths in the U.S. alone. 

Read all our pandemic coverage here

Source

Pop superstar Whitney Houston dies at age 48


Year
2012
Month Day
February 11

Whitney Houston, one of the world’s top-selling singers from the mid-1980s to late 1990s, is found dead in the bathtub of her suite at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California on February 11, 2012. Houston’s death was the result of accidental drowning; heart disease and cocaine, which was found in her system, were determined to be contributing factors. The 48-year-old pop diva, known for her soaring voice and beauty, won a total of six Grammy Awards and 22 American Music Awards (more than any other female), and was credited with influencing several generations of singers, from Mariah Carey to Jennifer Hudson.

Whitney Elizabeth Houston was born on August 9, 1963, in Newark, New Jersey, to John Houston, a theatrical manager, and Cissy Houston, a singer who backed up a variety of artists, including Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley. Growing up, the younger Houston sang in her church’s gospel choir. In high school, she performed background vocals on songs for Chaka Khan and others, and modeled, becoming one of the first African-American women to appear on the cover of Seventeen magazine.

In 1983, music producer Clive Davis heard Houston perform at a New York City nightclub and signed her to a recording deal. Her self-titled debut album, released in 1985, sold more than 25 million copies around the world and featured the hit singles “Saving All My Love for You,” “How Will I Know,” “You Give Good Love” and “The Greatest Love of All.” Her next album, 1987’s “Whitney,” was also a top-seller and included the hits “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me),” “Didn’t We Almost Have It All,” “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” and “So Emotional.” Her third album, 1990’s “I’m Your Baby Tonight,” was another big commercial success.

In 1992, the songstress made her movie debut, starring opposite Kevin Costner in the blockbuster “The Bodyguard.” The film’s soundtrack featured Houston’s recording of the ballad “I Will Always Love You,” which became the best-selling single by a female artist in music history. She went on to co-star in “Waiting to Exhale” (1995) and “The Preacher’s Wife” (1996), and also performed on the hit soundtracks for both movies.

In 1992, Houston married singer Bobby Brown, whose bad boy reputation was a contrast to her then-wholesome public image. The couple had a daughter in 1993. Houston and Brown’s relationship was tumultuous and became frequent tabloid fodder. They divorced in 2007.

In 1998, Houston released “My Love is Your Love,” which, like her previous albums, sold millions of copies. However, over the next decade, her career was marred by substance abuse and erratic public behavior and she spent time in rehab facilities. In 2009, Houston released what would be her final album, “I Look to You.” In 2010, she embarked on her first world tour in more than 10 years, with concerts in Asia, Australia and Europe. However, these shows received mixed reviews, with some critics and fans complaining Houston’s voice sounded strained. In 2011, she entered rehab again for drug and alcohol treatment.

On the afternoon of February 11, 2012, Houston died at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where she was expected to perform that night at a pre-Grammy Awards party hosted by Clive Davis. A week later, on February 18, her televised funeral was held at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, and featured musical tributes by such performers as Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys and the gospel singers BeBe and CeCe Winans. Tyler Perry, Kevin Costner and Houston’s cousin, Dionne Warwick, were among those who spoke at the service. The following day, Houston was buried next to her father at Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, New Jersey.

READ MORE: Inside Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown’s Tumultuous Relationship

Source

Japan launches its first satellite


Year
1970
Month Day
February 11

From the Kagoshima Space Center on the east coast of Japan’s Ohsumi Peninsula, Ohsumi, Japan’s first satellite, is successfully launched into an orbit around Earth. The achievement made Japan the world’s fourth space power, after the Soviet Union in 1957, the United States in 1958, and France in 1965.

Two months after Japan’s launching of Ohsumi, China became the world’s fifth space power when it successfully launched Mao 1 into space. The satellite, named after Mao Zedong, the leader of communist China, orbited Earth broadcasting the Chinese patriotic song The East Is Red once a minute.

Source

Virgin Mary appears to St. Bernadette


Year
1858
Month Day
February 11

In southern France, Marie-Bernarde Soubirous, a 14-year-old French peasant girl, first claims to have seen the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ and a central figure in the Roman Catholic religion. The apparitions, which totaled 18 before the end of the year, occurred in a grotto of a rock promontory near Lourdes, France. Marie explained that the Virgin Mary revealed herself as the Immaculate Conception, asked that a chapel be built on the site of the vision, and told the girl to drink from a fountain in the grotto, which Marie subsequently discovered by digging into the earth.

The concept of the Immaculate Conception, in which the Virgin Mary is regarded free from original sin from the moment of her conception, had been accepted just four years previous by Pope Pius IX. Marie’s claims garnered widespread attention, but skeptical church authorities subjected her to severe examinations and refused to accept her visions. After years of mistreatment at the hands of the authorities and the curious public, she was finally allowed to enter the convent of Notre-Dame de Nevers, where she spent her remaining years in prayer and seclusion. She died of ill heath at the age of 35.

The sight of her manifestations subsequently became the most famous modern shrine of the Virgin Mary, and in 1933 Marie-Bernarde Soubirous was canonized as St. Bernadette by the Roman Catholic Church. Today, millions travel to Lourdes every year to visit St. Bernadette’s grotto, whose waters supposedly have curative powers.

READ MORE: What Did Jesus Look Like?

Source

Nelson Mandela released from prison

Year
1990
Month Day
February 11

Nelson Mandela, leader of the movement to end South African apartheid, is released from prison after 27 years on February 11, 1990.

In 1944, Mandela, a lawyer, joined the African National Congress (ANC), the oldest black political organization in South Africa, where he became a leader of Johannesburg’s youth wing of the ANC. In 1952, he became deputy national president of the ANC, advocating nonviolent resistance to apartheid–South Africa’s institutionalized system of white supremacy and racial segregation. However, after the massacre of peaceful black demonstrators at Sharpeville in 1960, Nelson helped organize a paramilitary branch of the ANC to engage in guerrilla warfare against the white minority government.

In 1961, he was arrested for treason, and although acquitted he was arrested again in 1962 for illegally leaving the country. Convicted and sentenced to five years at Robben Island Prison, he was put on trial again in 1964 on charges of sabotage. In June 1964, he was convicted along with several other ANC leaders and sentenced to life in prison.

READ MORE: The Harsh Reality of Life Under Apartheid in South Africa

Mandela spent the first 18 of his 27 years in jail at the brutal Robben Island Prison. Confined to a small cell without a bed or plumbing, he was forced to do hard labor in a quarry. He could write and receive a letter once every six months, and once a year he was allowed to meet with a visitor for 30 minutes. However, Mandela’s resolve remained unbroken, and while remaining the symbolic leader of the anti-apartheid movement, he led a movement of civil disobedience at the prison that coerced South African officials into drastically improving conditions on Robben Island. He was later moved to another location, where he lived under house arrest.

In 1989, F.W. de Klerk became South African president and set about dismantling apartheid. De Klerk lifted the ban on the ANC, suspended executions, and in February 1990 ordered the release of Nelson Mandela.

Mandela subsequently led the ANC in its negotiations with the minority government for an end to apartheid and the establishment of a multiracial government. In 1993, Mandela and de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. One year later, the ANC won an electoral majority in the country’s first free elections, and Mandela was elected South Africa’s president.

Mandela retired from politics in 1999, but remained a global advocate for peace and social justice until his death in December 2013.

READ MORE: Nelson Mandela: His Written Legacy

Source

Yalta Conference ends


Year
1945
Month Day
February 11

On February 11, 1945, a week of intensive bargaining by the leaders of the three major Allied powers ends in Yalta, a Soviet resort town on the Black Sea. It was the second conference of the “Big Three” Allied leaders–U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin–and the war had progressed mightily since their last meeting, which had taken place in Tehran in late 1943.

What was then called the Crimea conference was held at the old summer palace of Czar Nicholas II on the outskirts of Yalta, now a city in the independent Ukraine. With victory over Germany three months away, Churchill and Stalin were more intent on dividing Europe into zones of political influence than in addressing military considerations. Germany would be divided into four zones of occupation administered by the three major powers and France and was to be thoroughly demilitarized and its war criminals brought to trial. The Soviets were to administer those European countries they liberated but promised to hold free elections. The British and Americans would oversee the transition to democracy in countries such as Italy, Austria and Greece.

Final plans were made for the establishment of the United Nations, and a charter conference was scheduled to begin in San Francisco in April.

A frail President Roosevelt, two months from his death, concentrated his efforts on gaining Soviet support for the U.S. war effort against Japan. The secret U.S. atomic bomb project had not yet tested a weapon, and it was estimated that an amphibious attack against Japan could cost hundreds of thousands of American lives. After being assured of an occupation zone in Korea, and possession of Sakhalin Island and other territories historically disputed between Russia and Japan, Stalin agreed to enter the Pacific War within two to three months of Germany’s surrender.

Most of the Yalta accords remained secret until after World War II, and the items that were revealed, such as Allied plans for Germany and the United Nations, were generally applauded. Roosevelt returned to the United States exhausted, and when he went to address the U.S. Congress on Yalta he was no longer strong enough to stand with the support of braces. In that speech, he called the conference “a turning point, I hope, in our history, and therefore in the history of the world.” He would not live long enough, however, to see the iron curtain drop along the lines of division laid out at Yalta. In April, he traveled to his cottage in Warm Springs, Georgia, to rest and on April 12 died of a cerebral hemorrhage.

On July 16, the United States successfully tested an atomic bomb in the New Mexico desert. On August 6, it dropped one of these deadly weapons on Hiroshima, Japan. Two days later, true to its pledge at Yalta, the Soviet Union declared war against Japan. The next day, the United States dropped another atomic bomb on Nagasaki, and the Soviets launched a massive offensive against the Japanese in Manchuria. On August 15, the combination of the U.S. atomic attacks and the Soviet offensive forced a Japanese surrender. At the end of the month, U.S. troops landed in Japan unopposed.

When the full text of the Yalta agreements were released in the years following World War II, many criticized Roosevelt and Churchill for delivering Eastern Europe and North Korea into communist domination by conceding too much to Stalin at Yalta. The Soviets never allowed free elections in postwar Eastern Europe, and communist North Korea was sharply divided from its southern neighbor.

Eastern Europe, liberated and occupied by the Red Army, would have become Soviet satellites regardless of what had happened at Yalta. Because of the atomic bomb, however, Soviet assistance was not needed to defeat the Japanese. Without the Soviet invasion of the Japanese Empire in the last days of World War II, North Korea and various other Japanese-held territories that fell under Soviet control undoubtedly would have come under the sway of the United States. At Yalta, however, Roosevelt had no guarantee that the atomic bomb would work, and so he sought Soviet assistance in what was predicted to be the costly task of subduing Japan. Stalin, more willing than Roosevelt to sacrifice troops in the hope of territorial gains, happily accommodated his American ally, and by the end of the war had considerably increased Soviet influence in East Asia.

READ MORE: World War II: Causes and Timeline

Source

Sacagawea gives birth to her first child


Year
1805
Month Day
February 11

Sacagawea, the Shoshone interpreter and guide to the Lewis and Clark expedition, gives birth to her first child, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau.

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark first met the young Sacagawea while spending the winter among the Mandan Indians along the Upper Missouri River, not far from present-day Bismarck, North Dakota. Still only a teenager, Sacagawea was the wife of a French-Canadian fur trapper, Toussaint Charbonneau, who had purchased her from Hidatsa kidnappers the year before. The Hidatsa had taken Sacagawea from her homeland along the Continental Divide in modern-day southwestern Montana and southeastern Idaho, where she was the daughter of a prominent Shoshone chief. Viewing such captives as little more than slaves, the Hidatsa were happy to sell Sacagawea and another woman to Charbonneau, who used them as laborers, porters, and sexual companions.

That winter, Lewis and Clark hired Charbonneau as an interpreter for their projected expedition to the Pacific and back, provided he agreed to bring along his young wife. Lewis and Clark knew they would have to obtain horses from the Shoshone to cross the Continental Divide, and Sacagawea’s services as an interpreter could prove invaluable. Charbonneau agreed, and she became the only woman to join the Corps of Discovery.

Two months before the expedition was to depart, Lewis and Clark found themselves with another co-traveler, who later proved useful in an unexpected way. On this day in 1805, Sacagawea went into labor. Lewis, who would often act as the expedition’s doctor in the months to come, was called on for the first and only time during the journey to assist in a delivery. Lewis was anxious to insure his new Shoshone interpreter was in good shape for the arduous journey to come, and he later worriedly reported “her labour was tedious and the pain violent.” Told that a small amount of the rattle of rattlesnake might speed the delivery, Lewis broke up a rattler tail and mixed it with water. “She had not taken [the mixture] more than ten minutes before she brought forth,” Lewis happily reported.

Named Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, the cries of the healthy young boy announced the arrival of a new member of the Corps of Discovery. No one, it seemed, contemplated leaving Sacagawea and her infant son behind–when the party set out up the Missouri in April 1805, Sacagawea carried Jean Baptiste on her back in an Indian cradleboard. Nicknamed “Pomp” or “Pompey” by Clark, who developed a strong attachment to the boy, Jean Baptiste accompanied his mother on every step of her epic journey to the Pacific and back.

Mother and son both were invaluable to the expedition. As hoped, Sacagawea’s services as a translator played a pivotal role in securing horses from the Shoshone. Jean Baptiste’s presence also proved unexpectedly useful by helping to convince the Indians the party encountered that their intentions were peaceful-no war party, the Indians reasoned, would bring along a mother and infant.

When the Corps of Discovery returned east in 1805, Charbonneau, Sacagawea, and Jean Baptiste resumed the fur-trading life. Little is known of Sacagawea’s subsequent fate, though a fur trader claimed she died of a “putrid fever” in 1812 at a Missouri River trading post. True to a promise he had made to Sacagawea during the expedition, Clark paid for Jean Baptiste’s education at a St. Louis Catholic academy and became something of an adoptive father to the boy. A bright and charismatic young man, Jean Baptiste learned French, German, and Spanish, hunted with noblemen in the Black Forest of Germany, traveled in Africa, and returned to further explore the American West. He died in 1866 en route to the newly discovered gold fields of Montana.

READ MORE: Lewis and Clark: A Timeline of the Extraordinary Expedition

Source

Voltaire returns to Paris from exile


Year
1778
Month Day
February 11

On February 11, 1778, some 300 people visit Voltaire following his return to Paris. Voltaire had been in exile for 28 years.

Born Francois-Marie Arouet to middle-class parents in Paris in 1694, Voltaire began to study law as a young man but quit to become a playwright. He made a name for himself with classical tragedies and also wrote poetry. In 1717, he was arrested for his satirical poem La Henriade, which attacked politics and religion. Voltaire spent nearly a year in the Bastille as punishment.

Voltaire’s time in prison failed to dry up his satirical pen. In 1726, government disapproval of his work forced him to flee to England. He returned several years later and continued to write plays. In 1734, his Lettres Philosophiques criticized established religions and political institutions, and he was again forced to flee Paris. He retreated to the region of Champagne, where he lived with his mistress and patroness, Madame du Chételet. In 1750, he moved to Berlin on the invitation of Frederick II of Prussia and later settled in Switzerland, where he wrote his best-known work, Candide. After 28 years, he returned to Paris and was greeted by hundreds of intellectuals. He died in Paris in May 1778.

Source

The Payola scandal heats up


Year
1960
Month Day
February 11

The Payola scandal reaches a new level of public prominence and legal gravity on February 11, 1960, when President Eisenhower called it an issue of public morality and the FCC proposed a new law making involvement in Payola a criminal act.

What exactly was Payola? During the hearings conducted by Congressman Oren Harris (D-Arkansas) and his powerful Subcommittee on Legislative Oversight—fresh off its inquiry into quiz-show rigging—the term was sometimes used as a blanket reference to a range of corrupt practices in the radio and recording industries. But within the music business, Payola referred specifically to a practice that was nearly as old as the industry itself: manufacturing a popular hit by paying for radio play.

As the Payola hearings got under way in February 1960, the public was treated to tales of a lavish disk-jockey convention in Miami bought and paid for by various record companies. One disk jockey, Wesley Hopkins of KYW in Cleveland, admitted to receiving over the course of 1958 and 1959 $12,000 in “listening fees” from record companies for “evaluating the commercial possibilities” of records. Another DJ named Stan Richard, from station WILD in Boston, also admitted to receiving thousands of dollars from various record promoters, and though like Hopkins he denied letting such fees affect his choice of which records to play on the air, he also offered a vigorous defense of Payola, comparing it to “going to school and giving the teacher a better gift than the fellow at the next desk.” He practically likened it to Motherhood and Apple Pie: “This seems to be the American way of life, which is a wonderful way of life. It’s primarily built on romance—I’ll do for you, what will you do for me?” It was this comment that prompted President Eisenhower to weigh in on February 11, 1960, with his condemnation of Payola.

But what explains the involvement of Congress in this issue? Technically, the concern of the Harris Committee was abuse of public trust, since the airwaves over which radio stations broadcast their signals are property of the people of the United States. However, 1960 was also an election year, and Rep. Harris and his colleagues on the Subcommittee were eager to be seen on the right side of a highly visible “moral” issue. Though it is widely agreed that the famous 1960 hearings on Payola merely reorganized the practice rather than eradicating it, those hearings did accomplish two very concrete things that year: they threatened the career of American Bandstand‘s Dick Clark and they destroyed the man who gave rock and roll its name, the legendary Cleveland disk jockey Alan Freed.

Source

Women’s rights activist arrested


Year
1916
Month Day
February 11

Emma Goldman, a crusader for women’s rights and social justice, is arrested in New York City for lecturing and distributing materials about birth control. She was accused of violating the Comstock Act of 1873, which made it a federal offense to disseminate contraceptive devices and information through the mail or across state lines. In addition to advocating for women’s reproductive rights, Goldman, who was later convicted and spent time in jail, was a champion of numerous controversial causes and ideas, including anarchism, free speech and atheism. Nicknamed “Red Emma,” the forward-thinking Goldman was arrested multiple times for her activist activities.

Goldman was born into a poor Jewish family in Russia in 1869. She fled her homeland as a teenager in 1885 and ended up in Rochester, New York. There she was employed at a factory and became involved in the labor movement, protesting poor working conditions and advocating for unions and an eight-hour workday. She was influenced by the Haymarket Riot in Chicago in 1886, in which a rally organized by anarchist workers turned into a violent confrontation with police. The anarchists were later convicted and four were hanged. Goldman later relocated to New York City, where she joined the anarchist movement and was romantically linked to anarchist and fellow Russian Alexander Berkman. In 1892, Berkman attempted to kill Henry Clay Frick, the owner of Carnegie Steel, following a violent workers’ strike in Homestead, Pennsylvania. Berkman was sent to prison, but Goldman, who was believed to have known about the plan, went free due to a lack of evidence.

READ MORE: Women’s History Milestones: A Timeline

In New York, Goldman spent time working as a nurse and midwife among the poor. Her experiences convinced her that birth control was essential to women improving their lives and achieving economic and sexual equality. Goldman, a skilled writer, editor and orator, spoke publicly about contraception and was a mentor to Margaret Sanger, the birth-control pioneer who founded the organization that would become Planned Parenthood. In 1916, Sanger opened America’s first birth-control clinic in Brooklyn, New York; law enforcement officials shut it down after 10 days. Sanger opened the first legal clinic in the United States in 1923. In 1936, in an amendment to the Comstock Act, American doctors gained the legal right to prescribe and distribute contraceptive devices through the mail and across state lines. In 1960, the FDA approved the first sale of a birth-control pill.

In addition to advocating for women’s reproductive rights, Goldman was an anti-war crusader. In 1917, she was arrested, along with Berkman, for protesting America’s involvement in World War I and the draft. Both spent two years in prison and were then deported back to Russia. Goldman lived the rest of her life in Russia, Europe and Canada, and died in Toronto in 1940 at age 70. She was buried in the German Waldheim Cemetery, near Chicago, the burial place of the Haymarket anarchists and other political radicals.

READ MORE: Early Women’s Rights Activists Wanted Much More Than Suffrage

Source