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Second Balkan War Ends

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The First World War was an unprecedented catastrophe that killed millions and set the continent of Europe on the path to further calamity two decades later. But it didn’t come out of nowhere. With the centennial of the outbreak of hostilities coming up in 2014, Erik Sass will be looking back at the lead-up to the war, when seemingly minor moments of friction accumulated until the situation was ready to explode. He'll be covering those events 100 years after they occurred. This is the 81st installment in the series.

August 12, 1913: Second Balkan War Ends

After the Balkan League’s victory over the Ottoman Empire in the First Balkan War, Bulgaria attacked its former allies Serbia and Greece over the division of Turkish territory—but the Second Balkan War immediately proved to be a disastrous mistake. Following Serbian and Greek victories over Bulgarian forces in Macedonia, Bulgaria’s fate was sealed when Romania and the Ottoman Empire attacked from the rear. Bulgaria’s Tsar Ferdinand begged for peace on July 21, 1913, and ten days later, the belligerents met in the Romanian capital, Bucharest. The terms of peace were agreed on August 10, and on August 12, 1913, the Treaty of Bucharest was finally ratified, ending the Second Balkan War. 

The Treaty of Bucharest stripped Bulgaria of most of its gains from the First Balkan War, as well as its own pre-war territory of Dobruja along the Black Sea coast. Between the First and Second Balkan Wars, Serbia increased its territory 82 percent, from 18,650 square miles to 33,891 square miles, and Greece grew 67 percent, from 25,041 to 41,933 square miles, with more than half of this coming at Bulgaria’s expense; adding insult to injury, Romania snipped off 2,700 square miles in Bulgaria’s northeast.

Most contemporary observers realized there was little chance of a lasting peace. Unsurprisingly, the Treaty of Bucharest left the Bulgarians embittered and resentful; in a few years, Tsar Ferdinand would lead his country into the maelstrom yet again, in an effort to redeem its lost territories and self-respect. The Second Balkan War also upended the diplomatic status quo in the Balkans, by turning Bulgaria against its traditional patron Russia, which had failed to protect Bulgaria against its enemies. Seeking a new protector among the Great Powers, Bulgaria turned to Austria-Hungary, which shared Bulgaria’s enmity towards Serbia and its backer Russia.

Indeed, on July 27, 1913, Tsar Ferdinand warned the Austro-Hungarian ambassador that “An opportunity has been wasted of wiping Serbia off the map. War between [Austria-Hungary] and Russia was inevitable and would come within a few years… The aim of his life was the annihilation of Serbia, which ought to be partitioned between Bulgaria, Austria-Hungary, and Romania…” On August 1, 1913, the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister Count Berchtold—now converted to the idea of war by the hawks in Vienna—agreed that “in a not-too-distant future [Serbia] will compel us to have recourse to violent measures.” Meanwhile Russia was left with Serbia as its only client state in the Balkans, meaning the Russians had no choice but to back the quarrelsome Serbs in their future disputes, or risk forfeiting all their influence in the Balkans.

The Balkan states and their Great Power backers were on a collision course that was about to plunge the region, and the rest of Europe, into unimaginable bloodshed and misery. 

Germans, British Partition Portuguese Colonies

While tensions were brewing in the Balkans, the situation in Western Europe seemed to be improving, as Britain and Germany worked to iron out longstanding sources of friction. After Germany accepted a compromise to slow the naval arms race in February 1913, in March the two leading Great Powers reached an agreement to settle the boundary between the British colony of Nigeria and the German colony of Cameroon. Then, in August 1913, they followed up with a preliminary agreement secretly divvying up Portugal’s African possessions.

Europe’s first colonial power, Portugal, led the conquest of Africa beginning in the 15th century, but like its fellow colonial pioneer, Spain, the small maritime state had suffered a long decline, surpassed by a new generation of colonial powers including Britain, France, and eventually Germany. It still held some large chunks of African real estate, in Portuguese West Africa (modern-day Angola) and Portuguese East Africa (modern-day Mozambique)—but as the unclaimed areas of the world shrank, it was only natural for the dominant colonial powers to turn their gaze to these remnants of empire, directly adjacent to their own African possessions.

Under the terms of the Anglo-German Convention agreed in principle on August 13, 1913, Britain and Germany assigned most of Angola—312,000 square miles in area, with a population of two million, located north of German Southwest Africa (Namibia)—to Germany, with Britain getting a small corner southeast of the Zambezi River. Meanwhile, most of northern Mozambique abutting German East Africa (Tanzania) would also go to Germany; the southern part of Mozambique, geographically contiguous with the Transvaal of British South Africa, would go to Britain.

The British and German representatives agreed to “compensate” Portugal with a $100 million loan on easy terms, but the agreement was still fairly treacherous on the part of the British, who were partners with Portugal in the world’s oldest alliance, the Treaty of Windsor, agreed in 1386; in fact, the British diplomat Arthur Nicolson called it “one of the most cynical diplomatic acts in my memory.” But British Foreign Minister Edward Grey was willing to strong-arm Britain’s weak ally in order to improve relations with Germany, a much larger and more important state.

In the end, the Anglo-German Convention was never ratified, as it was first delayed by predictable Portuguese objections, and finally superseded by the Great War. But the existence of even the preliminary agreement had an “excellent effect in clearing the air between England and Germany,” according to a contemporary analysis—and ironically, this may have contributed to the outbreak of war. As with the Nigeria-Cameroon boundary treaty, the Germans overestimated the importance of these colonial compromises to Britain: Of course British diplomats were happy to clear up minor disagreements about African borders, but that didn’t mean they were going to stand aside and let Germany violate Belgian neutrality, crush France, and establish hegemony in Europe. In less than a year the Germans would pay a heavy price for this fatal miscalculation. 

See the previous installment or all entries.

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Space
NASA Is Posting Hundreds of Retro Flight Research Videos on YouTube
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If you’re interested in taking a tour through NASA history, head over to the YouTube page of the Armstrong Flight Research Center, located at Edwards Air Force Base, in southern California. According to Motherboard, the agency is in the middle of posting hundreds of rare aircraft videos dating back to the 1940s.

In an effort to open more of its archives to the public, NASA plans to upload 500 historic films to YouTube over the next few months. More than 300 videos have been published so far, and they range from footage of a D-558 Skystreak jet being assembled in 1947 to a clip of the first test flight of an inflatable-winged plane in 2001. Other highlights include the Space Shuttle Endeavour's final flight over Los Angeles and a controlled crash of a Boeing 720 jet.

The research footage was available to the public prior to the mass upload, but viewers had to go through the Dryden Aircraft Movie Collection on the research center’s website to see them. The current catalogue on YouTube is much easier to browse through, with clear playlist categories like supersonic aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles. You can get a taste of what to expect from the page in the sample videos below.

[h/t Motherboard]

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History
15 Fascinating Facts About Amelia Earhart
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Amelia Earhart was a pioneer, a legend, and a mystery. To celebrate what would be her 120th birthday, we've uncovered 15 things you might not know about the groundbreaking aviator.

1. THE FIRST TIME SHE SAW AN AIRPLANE, SHE WASN'T IMPRESSED.

In Last Flight, a collection of diary entries published posthumously, Earhart recalled feeling unmoved by "a thing of rusty wire and wood" at the Iowa State Fair in 1908. It wasn't until years later that she discovered her passion for aviation, when she worked as a nurse's aide at Toronto's Spadina Military Hospital. She and some friends would spend time at hangars and flying fields, talking to pilots and watching aerial shows. Earhart didn't actually get on a plane herself until 1920, and even then she was just a passenger.

2. SHE WAS A GOOD STUDENT WITH NO PATIENCE FOR SCHOOL.

After working with the Voluntary Aid Detachment in Toronto, Earhart took pre-med classes at Columbia University in 1919. She made good grades, but dropped out after just a year. Earhart re-enrolled at Columbia in 1925 and left school again. She took summer classes at Harvard, but gave up on higher education for good after she didn't get a scholarship to MIT.

3. ANOTHER PIONEERING FEMALE AVIATOR TAUGHT EARHART HOW TO FLY.

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Neta Snook was the first woman to run her own aviation business and commercial airfield. She gave Earhart flying lessons at Kinner Field near Long Beach, California in 1921, reportedly charging $1 in Liberty Bonds for every minute they spent in the air.

4. EARHART BOUGHT HER FIRST PLANE WITHIN SIX MONTHS OF HER FIRST FLYING LESSON.

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She named it The Canary. The used yellow Kinner Airster biplane was the second one ever built. Earhart paid $2000 for it, despite Snook's opinion that it was underpowered, overpriced, and too difficult for a beginner to land.

5. AMY EARHART ENCOURAGED HER DAUGHTER'S PASSION. HER FATHER, ON THE OTHER HAND, WAS AFRAID OF FLYING.

Earhart's mom used some of her inheritance to pay for The Canary. She was a bit of an adventurer herself: the first woman to ever climb Pikes Peak in Colorado.

6. EARHART HAD A LOT OF ODD JOBS.

In addition to volunteering as a nurse's aide, Earhart also worked early jobs as a telephone operator and tutor. Earhart was a social worker at Denison House in Boston when she was invited to fly across the Atlantic for the first time (as a passenger) in 1928. At the height of her career, Earhart spent time making speeches, writing articles, and providing career counseling at Purdue University's Department of Aeronautics. Oh, and flying around the world.

7. SHE WASN'T SURE ABOUT MARRIAGE, BUT SHE DEFINITELY BELIEVED IN PRE-NUPS.

When promoter George Putnam contacted Earhart about flying across the Atlantic Ocean in 1928, it was her first big break ... and the beginning of their love story. The two began a working relationship, which soon turned into attraction. When Putnam's marriage to Dorothy Binney fell apart, he eventually proposed to Earhart. She said yes, albeit reluctantly.

Earhart wasn't worried about safeguarding financial assets so much as she wanted the two of them to maintain separate identities. Earhart asked Putnam to agree to a trial marriage. If they weren't happy after a year, they'd be free to go their separate ways, no hard feelings. He agreed. They lived happily until her disappearance.

8. SHE WROTE ABOUT FLYING FOR COSMOPOLITAN.

In 1928, Earhart was appointed Cosmopolitan's Aviation Editor. Her 16 published articles—among them "Shall You Let Your Daughter Fly?" and "Why Are Women Afraid to Fly?"—recounted her adventures and encouraged other women to fly, even if they just did so commercially. (Commercial flights date back to 1914, but they wouldn't really take off until after World War II.)

9. FIRST LADY ELEANOR ROOSEVELT WAS SO INSPIRED BY EARHART THAT SHE SIGNED UP FOR FLYING LESSONS.

The two became friends in 1932. Roosevelt got a student permit and a physical examination, but never followed through with her plan.

10. EARHART WAS THE FIRST WOMAN TO GET A PILOT'S LICENSE FROM THE NATIONAL AERONAUTIC ASSOCIATION (NAA).

That was in 1923, when pilots and aircrafts weren't legally required to be licensed. Earhart was the sixteenth woman to get licensed by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), which was required to set flight records. Still, the FAI didn't maintain women's records until 1928.

11. SHE ACCOMPLISHED A LOT OF "FIRSTS."

Earhart eventually became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic as a passenger (1928) and then solo (1932) and nonstop from coast to coast (1932) as a pilot. She also set records, period: Earhart was the first person to ever fly solo from Honolulu to Oakland, Los Angeles to Mexico City, and Mexico City to Newark, all in 1935.

What do John Glenn, George H.W. Bush, and Amelia Earhart have in common? They all earned an Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross. But only Earhart was the first woman—and one of few civilians—to do so.

12. SHE WAS ONE OF THE FIRST CELEBRITIES TO LAUNCH A CLOTHING LINE.

Amelia Earhart Fashions were affordable separates sold exclusively at Macy's and Marshall Field's. The line's dresses, blouses, pants, suits, and hats were made of cotton and parachute silk and featured aviation-inspired details, like propeller-shaped buttons. Earhart studied sewing as a girl and actually made her own samples.

13. THE U.S. GOVERNMENT SPENT $4 MILLION SEARCH FOR EARHART.

At the time, it was the most expensive air and sea search in history. Earhart's plane disappeared July 2, 1937. The official search ended a little over two weeks later on July 19. Putnam then financed a private search, chartering boats to the Phoenix Islands, Christmas Island, Fanning Island, the Gilbert Islands, and the Marshall Islands.

14. THE SEARCH ISN'T OVER.

There are several theories about what happened to Earhart's plane during her last flight. Most people believe she ran out of fuel and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. Others believe she landed on an island and died of thirst, starvation, injury, or at the hands of Japanese soldiers in Saipan. In 1970, one man even claimed that Earhart was alive and well and living a secret life in New Jersey.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) has explored the theory that Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan lived as castaways before dying on Gardner Island, now called Nikumaroro, in the western Pacific. Over the years, they've found a few potential artifacts, including evidence of campfire sites, pieces of Plexiglas, and an empty jar of the brand of freckle cream that Earhart used.

In early July 2017, a photo surfaced that seemed to confirm the theory that Earhart and Noonan crashed and were captured by Japanese soldiers, but that photo was quickly debunked.

15. TODAY, ANOTHER AMELIA EARHART IS MAKING HISTORY.

In 2014, another pilot named Amelia Earhart took to the skies to set a world record. The then-31-year-old California native became the youngest woman to fly 24,300 miles around the world in a single-engine plane. Her namesake never completed the journey, but the younger Earhart landed safely in Oakland on July 11, 2014. We think "Lady Lindy" would be proud.

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