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Today in context, September 15, 2020

History’s Great Mysteries

In honor of Agatha Christie—who was born on September 15, 1890—we’re taking a closer look at some real-life mysteries that have yet to be solved.
Where is D.B. Cooper?
After hijacking a plane in 1971, he parachuted out of the aircraft with the ransom money and disappeared.
What happened to Malaysia Airlines flight 370?
While it seems incredible that a passenger jet could go missing, that’s exactly what happened in 2014.
Who was Jack the Ripper?
The identity of the man who brutally killed at least five women in 1888 has obsessed detectives and armchair sleuths for decades.
Did Edgar Allan Poe die from rabies?
While that’s one theory, we don’t really know. The cause of his death is one of literature’s great unsolved mysteries—fitting for the man who created the genre of detective fiction.
Where is Jimmy Hoffa?
Read our list of nine mysterious disappearances of people, including the controversial labor leader who went missing in 1975.

“The Madness of Racism”

On the morning of September 15, 1963, the predominantly Black members of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, were attending Sunday school when a bomb planted by white supremacists exploded. Four girls—Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, and Carole Robertson, all age 14, and Denise McNair (age 11)—were killed. Fourteen others were injured. The loss of innocent lives spurred a racial reckoning in the United States, not unlike the one experienced thissummer, and galvanized the civil rights movement. Yet justice would not be found until decades later when three KKK members were sent to prison.
The Bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church
article / Politics, Law & Government
Thomas J. O'Halloran—U.S. News and World Report Magazine Photograph Collection/Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (digital file number. ppmsca-04298 -6A)
Timeline of the American Civil Rights Movement
List / World History
Bill Hudson/AP Images
4 Little Girls
article / Entertainment & Pop Culture
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

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Entertainment & Pop Culture Entertainment & Pop Culture
Entertainment and leisure activities have been a part of all cultures in one form or another since the ancient times, whether the activity in question involved participating in a dance performance, attending a Broadway show, going to a music festival, or watching a movie.
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Geography & Travel Geography & Travel
Planet Earth contains some extraordinarily diverse environments, some of which are easily habitable and some not so much. In different areas of Earth, one might find sweltering deserts, dense tropical rainforests, or bone-chilling tundras. Each biome and habitat comes with its own selection of flora and fauna, and it may include physical features such as canyons, volcanoes, rivers, or caves. Human beings have built homes in many different environments, settling the area and organizing it into units such as cities, states, regions, and countries, each with its own points of interest. Shifting trends in human migration have resulted in a human geography that is profoundly different from that of centuries ago.
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The study of the human mind and body, how these function, and how they interact—not only with each other but also with their environment—has been of utmost importance in ensuring human well-being. Research on potential treatments and preventive medicine has expanded greatly with the development of modern medicine, and a network of disciplines, including such fields as genetics, psychology, and nutrition, aims to facilitate the betterment of our health.
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It's easy enough to agree that human beings all around the world have certain basic requirements that must be fulfilled in order to ensure their individual and collective well-being. History has shown us, however, that it's not so easy to form societies or communities that fulfill these requirements for all members. The fight over human and civil rights has persisted for hundreds of years and remains alive today, both within the borders of nations and on an international scale. It has led to large-scale social movements and reforms concerning issues such as suffrage, slavery, women's rights, racial discrimination, environmentalism, gay rights, and more.
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With the development of language, the human imagination has found a way to create and communicate through the written word. A literary work can transport us into a fictional, fantastic new world, describe a fleeting feeling, or simply give us a picture of the past through novels, poems, tragedies, epic works, and other genres. Through literature, communication becomes an art, and it can bridge and bond people and cultures of different languages and backgrounds.
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Philosophy & Religion Philosophy & Religion
Humans have long pondered not only how we came to be but also why we came to be. The earliest Greek philosophers focused their attention upon the origin and nature of the physical world; later philosophers have theorized about the nature of knowledge, truth, good and evil, love, friendship, and much more. Thus, philosophy involves a methodical assessment of any and all aspects of human existence and experience. The realms of philosophy and religion have sometimes intersected in conducting inquiries such as these. As with philosophy, the study of religion underscores how humankind has long speculated about its origins. The possibility of a higher being (or beings) to which livings things owe their existence has long captived human thought. Many religions also offer their own views on the nature of good and evil, and they may prescribe guidelines and judgment on different kinds of human behavior.
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The world today is divided territorially into more than 190 countries, each of which possesses a national government that claims to exercise sovereignty and seeks to compel obedience to its will by its citizens. Governments can be classified in any number of ways. For example, they might be classified by the number of rulers, thus distinguishing government by one (as in a monarchy or a tyranny) from government by the few (in an aristocracy or oligarchy) and from government by the many (as in a democracy). Governments can also be classified by mode of succession; for example, ascension to governmental leadership may follow the rules of hereditary succession, or it may be determined through elections or by force. Governments also vary in terms of the laws and rules of conduct that each political entity follows.
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Science Science
How can the sky be blue one day and stormy the next? Why do heavy objects tend to fall downwards when dropped? How are birds able to fly (and why can’t I do the same?)? Human beings have long been curious about the world in which we live, striving to identify connections among the phenomenons we witness and to understand how it all works. The field of science has developed over many centuries as a way of studying and understanding the world, beginning with the primitive stage of simply noting important regularities in nature and continuing through the rise of modern science. The modern-day sciences cover a vast range of fields, including biology, chemistry, meteorology, astronomy, physics, and much more.
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Sports & Recreation Sports & Recreation
Physical contests and recreational games have long played a part in human society. In both team and solo sports, the human body has been pushed to its limits in the name of improving athletic performance and to break record upon record. The ancient Olympic Games are an early example of the contests in which humans have engaged to showcase physical prowess. In modern times, sports and games have evolved into a lucrative and competitive industry, while other leisure activities, such as card and video games, can be competitive or can just be a way to unwind or socialize.
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Technology Technology
Humankind has long striven to improve its living conditions through the development of tools, instruments, and transportation and communications systems, all with the goal of making our lives easier, more productive and—why not—more fun, too! Thanks to human curiosity and technological research, many significant inventions have been made throughout history that in turn made a difference in our daily lives.
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Visual Arts Visual Arts
These are the arts that meet the eye and evoke an emotion through an expression of skill and imagination. They include the most ancient forms, such as painting and drawing, and the arts that were born thanks to the development of technology, like sculpture, printmaking, photography, and installation art, the latter a combination of multiple creative expressions. Though beauty is in the eye of the beholder, different eras in art history have had their own principles to define beauty, from the richly ornamented taste of the Baroque to the simple, utilitarian style of the Prairie School.
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World History World History
Does history really repeat itself, or can we learn from the mistakes of those who came before us? History provides a chronological, statistical, and cultural record of the events, people, and movements that have made an impact on humankind and the world at large throughout the ages. Investigating the causes and results of past events is critically important in gaining a full understanding and perspective of present-day issues.
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