14 Years Ago This Week, The Cronulla Riots Began
Dec 8, 1980 - John Lennon shot and killed in New York
Legendary Beatles singer/songwriter and 60s and 70s music icon John Lennon was gunned down in front of his Manhattan apartment by disgruntled former fan Mark David Chapman.
After returning from a recording session with his wife Yoko Ono, Lennon was fatally struck four times in the back. He was 40 years old.
Chapman had planned the killing for months after growing increasingly disenchanted with Lennon, who he once viewed as an idol. After meeting Lennon earlier in the day and getting his autograph, he waited near the famed archway of New York's Dakota building, carrying a .38 caliber revolver and a copy of J.D. Salinger's novel The Catcher In The Rye, which he said inspired the murder. Once Lennon passed the archway, Chapman opened fire. Lennon staggered up the steps of the building and collapsed in the reception area, gravely wounded. He was rushed to hospital in the back of a police squad car, but pronounced dead on arrival.
Chapman remained calmly on scene where he was arrested, apologising to the officer for "causing all the trouble". After pleading guilty to the murder, he was sentenced to 20-years-to-life in prison.
Lennon's innovative and influential music helped shape a generation. His legacy includes multiple Beatles, solo and collaboration albums, industry awards and accolades, writings, artworks and his anti-war and political activism.
Dec 10, 1878 - Bushranger Ned Kelly's gang robs Euroa's National bank
Australian bushranger-turned-outlaw Ned Kelly and his gang 'cordially' stole more than £2000 of cash and gold from Euroa, Victoria's National bank, after taking 22 hostages at the nearby Faithful Creek Station.
Dressed in new clothes stolen from the station, the 'stylish' Kelly entered the bank with a gun drawn, with a second robber entering from the back. The pair forced the manager to open the safe, and made off with its contents.
Before the robbery, the gang had severed the telegraph lines near the railway station so the alarm couldn't be raised.
After 10 minutes in the bank, Kelly forced the manager, his family and children to return to Faithful Creek Station, where the gang wined and dined the 'hostages' until late in the evening. In the morning, Kelly told them they couldn't leave for three hours, as the gang made its escape.
Kelly remained on the run for two years until a failed attempt to derail a police train. He was captured after a shootout, tried, convicted and hung at the Old Melbourne Gaol, his last words reportedly were: "such is life".
Dec 11, 1936 - Britain's King Edward VIII abdicates the throne to marry American socialite Wallis Simpson
King Edward VIII, the first-born son of King George V and Queen Mary, abdicated the thrown after less than a year so he could wed American divorcee Wallis Simpson. He'd proposed to the socialite despite the protests of the British royal family.
The abdication paved the way for Prince Albert, affectionately known as 'Bertie' to his family, to take the throne, and then later his first-born daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, at the age of 25.
Dec 11, 2005 - Cronulla Riots start
Fourteen years ago this week, angry crowds descended on Cronulla in Sydney's south, sparking the largest race riots in Australia's recent history and turning the usually quiet beach suburb into scenes resembling a war zone.
Racial tensions had been simmering for a week, after an altercation between two white off-duty lifesavers and a group of Middle Eastern men on Cronulla beach. Accusations -- later disputed as largely exaggerated -- of the lifesavers being 'bashed' by 'Lebanese' men spread quickly via text message, and thousands of young 'patriotic' white men, including members of far-right groups, gathered alongside the beach on the morning of Dec 11, chanting racial slurs and abuse.
Throughout the day, many men of 'foreign' background were targeted, cornered, racially abused and assaulted by the angry mob. Dozens of people were injured and 16 people were arrested.
After the initial violence, reprisal attacks began, with the riots not dying down for several days amid a police crackdown.
The violence shook the community and the country; to many, the shameful display was one of Australia's darkest moment in recent history.
Dec 14, 2012 - Students and teachers killed In massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School
Twenty young primary school children along with six school staff were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in one of America's most devastating and deadly mass shootings in recent history.
The children, aged six and seven, were targeted in their Year One classrooms by shooter Adam Lanza, a 20 year old with Asperger syndrome, who had shot and killed his mother before setting upon the school. He was armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, which his mother had legally purchased.
After the murders, Lanza shot and killed himself.
The massacre sparked outrage across America, renewing the gun control debate, and brought about a slew of gun reform proposals. While some states took more robust gun control measures on board, on the federal level, a ban on assault weapons and expanded background checks were ultimately defeated in the US Senate.
Do you love history? No? Well you should.
It's great for putting the world in context, broadening your understanding of the human condition, and earning back the respect of your pub trivia team.
And whether you're a Seven Years War buff, a Hammurabi enthusiast or you can barely remember who your last prime minister was, a quick history brush-up is always a fascinating way to make sure you're not doomed to repeat stuff.
To understand who we are, we must understand where we came from. Everything in the 'now' has a greater context rooted in the 'then'. Equally important is realising that history is usually written by the victors, and while we learn those narratives, we must also learn to question them, put them within a larger scope, seek other perspectives, and seek the untold stories.
Now that I've convinced you, let's take a look back at a few of this week's most notable moments in world history.