This Day in History: Britain Declares War; Fairness Doctrine Abolished; and Serena Completes Golden Slam

Britain declares war on Germany, engulfing Europe in war (1914)
On August 4, 1914, after a week of rising tension – beginning with Austria-Hungary waging war on Serbia – Britain declared war on Germany in retaliation for aggression toward Belgium and France.

Belgium, Britain, France and their colonial empires made up Allied forces on the Western Front. Austria-Hungary and the German Empire, the Central Powers-forces, pushed the front well into Belgium and France.

Germany seemed to be gaining ground in 1918 – forcing Russia to sign the Brest-Litovsk treaty, as the Russian revolution picked up – but their army ceded immense territory as American forces became a greater part of the war. The Armistice of November 11, 1918, effectively ended the war on the Western Front, with Germany accepting defeat and ceding much of the land gained.

The Treaty of Versailles, which actually ended the war, placed large economic sanctions on the Central Powers. Those sanctions are now considered drastically too demanding, by some historians, which led to the economic anxiety exploited by the Nazi Party in the early 1930s.

Anne Frank and company arrested (1944)
During the second World War – August 4, 1944 – Anne Frank and her family were arrested by Nazi police officers, the ‘Gestapo’.

Anne Frank, a Jewish-German, kept a diary of her experiences. Her family and some close friends spent over two years in hiding in Amsterdam, attempting to avoid Nazi persecution.

After being discovered, they were briefly sent to Auschwitz, before the Soviet liberation of Poland. Anne and her sister were then taken to Bergen-Belsen, where they would eventually die of typhus.

Otto Frank was the only member of the group to survive. The hiding place he created is now a museum.

The Diary of Anne Frank is now considered one of the most important literary works of the 1940s. 

Fairness Doctrine revoked, sparking new era of journalism (1987)
On August 4, 1987, the Federal Communication Committed voted unanimously to revoke the Fairness Doctrine – a mandate for radio and television stations to present balanced coverage of controversial issues.

Fox News and MSNBC – now the two highest-rated cable news channels – both launched within a decade.

The Fairness Doctrine has been considered for reimplementation several times, but certain partisan groups have fought it, arguing it would kill the broadcasting of their beliefs.

The debates over whether it creates false balance, or hinders free speech, have ultimately proved unconvincing in causing change. The revocation has changed how a generation of people have received local and national news.

Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds go deep (2007)
On August 4, 2007, Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds hit historical home runs – it didn’t buy either of them any extra love.

Rodriguez, one of the most successful players of the last generation, retired last season. He twice signed the richest contract in baseball history – once with the Texas Rangers, later with the New York Yankees.

Rodriguez was basically forced out by the organization, retired four home runs short of 700, a mark many assumed he would easily surpass. Injuries and steroids-related suspensions cost the superstar over half of his last four seasons of play.

Alex Rodriguez likely retired one of the most successful – but most disliked – baseball players in Major League Baseball history. Only Hank Aaron has more hits, home runs and RBI’s than Rodriguez.

On the same day, Barry Bonds – Major League Baseball’s home run king – tied Hank Aaron with 755 homers. Bonds would go on to break the record, three days later, in front of a home crowd in San Francisco.

Bonds, who has been denied entry into the National Baseball Hall of Fame for alleged steroid use, posted some of the best offensive numbers in the history of baseball during the early 2000s – now considered part of the ‘Steroid Era’.

Bonds was a seven-time National League MVP, but may never be inducted to his reputation. Supporters have argued that his three MVPs and career numbers before steroid allegations should be enough, as well as the fact less-accomplished players with steroid allegations are in the Hall.

Bonds may never be inducted, but it is just as likely that his records are never broken.

Serena Williams completes 'Golden Slam' with Olympic Gold (2012)
Though Serena Williams completed the professional tennis career grand slam nearly a decade earlier - in her early 20s - she became the fourth tennis player ever to complete the career 'Golden Slam' on August 4, 2012.

Williams had been dominating the Women's Tennis Association for some time, but her only Olympic Medals were in double's competitions with her sister, Venus Williams. 

Williams dominated the field, and crushed Maria Sharapova in the final, to cruise to her first single's Gold Medal. Serena is now considered the most accomplished women's tennis player in history - some argue the most dominant tennis player ever.

She currently holds the record for the most Grand Slam titles in the Open Era, twice holding all four titles at the same time.

Williams recently won the Australian Open while pregnant. She is engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

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