TLW's Disasterscope™ (Disaster Historyscope)
By T.L. Winslow (TLW), the Historyscoper™
© Copyright by T.L. Winslow. All Rights Reserved.
Original Pub. Date: Mar. 15, 2017. Last Update: Sept. 17, 2017.
Westerners are not only known as history ignoramuses, but double dumbass history ignoramuses when it comes to disaster history. Since I'm the one-and-only Historyscoper (tm), let me quickly bring you up to speed before you dive into my Master Historyscope.
Some people think that history is bunk because only the Devil makes the headlines. Some headlines are bigger than others. Should the Devil be blamed for these? Scope major historical disasters manmade and natural to gain a better perspective.
About 1627 B.C.E. the volcano on the island of Thera AKA Santorini in the Aegean Sea 100 mi. SE of Athens erupts, causing half of the island to sink into the sea, along with a city in the Bay of Naples, becoming the greatest vocanic eruption in ancient times; a tsunami hits Crete, destroying the Minoan fleet, dealing their civilization a lethal blow; ditto the Hyksos; in 1967 Greek archeologist Spyridon Nikolaou Marinatos (1901-74) discovers remains of a Minoan civilization in Akrotiri in SW Santorini, incl. a sewage and freshwater system, and 3-story bldgs. with indoor bathrooms and toilets; the explosion is the origin of the Atlantis legend of Plato, according to Greek seismologist Angelos Galanopoulos; frescoes found in Thera show a goddess presiding over the manufacture of drugs from the saffron flower (Crocus sativus); each flower has three stigmas, and it takes 150 flowers to yield 1g of dry saffron threads, which currently cost $1K per lb.; Atlantis is really in Morocco?
On Feb. 5, 79 C.E. volcanic Mt. Vesuvius in the Gulf of Naples 5.6 mi. E of Naples erupts, causing an earthquake that severely damages Herculaneum at its NW base (5 mi. E of modern-day Naples) and Pompeii, killing 1K.
In 164/5 C.E. the Great (Antonine) Plague Era (named after a Greek phyisician in Rome) (smallpox?) (measles?) begins in the Roman Empire (ends 180) when soldiers returning from the Parthian War bring it with them, killing 4M-7M, and depopulating towns from Persia to the Rhine River, becoming a turning point in the empire's fortunes; Greek physician (in Rome) Galen (Claudius Galenus) (Gk. "healer") (129-201), who moved from Pergamum to Rome in 162 becomes emperor Marcus Aurelius' physician, and coins the term "tumor" for cancer, from the Latin word "tymbos" for sepulchral mound; "The ancient world never recovered from the blow inflicted on it by the plague which visited it in the reign of M. Aurelius." (Barthold Georg Niebuhr)
In 1343 the Black Death (AKA the bubonic plague), which originated in C Asia hops along the Silk Road to the Crimea, after which it hops onto ships aboard Oriental rat fleas who live on black rats, killing 75M-200M in Eurasia and 30%-60% of the pop. of Europe, reducing world pop. from 450M down to 350M-375M by the end of the cent., which doesn't recover unitl the 19th cent. amid occasional recurrences in Europe; on the good side, it shook the absolute authority of the Church, spawning the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution that took us out of the monkey monkey Dark Ages; death usually occurs within 10 days, with a 30%-90% mortality rate if antibiotics are not used; by 2013 there are only 750 known cases, resulting in 126 deaths.
On Jan. 23, 1556 (a.m.) the 1556 Shaanxi Earthquake in Shensi (Shaanxi) Province in Ming China kills 830K, becoming the worst earthquake on record (until ?).
On Sept. 22-24, 1815 the Great Sept. Gale of 1815, the first to strike New England in 180 years strikes the S shore of Long Island, N.Y. on Sept. 23, splitting Long Beach from the Rockaways, then hits Saybrook, Conn., creating 11-ft. waves that destroy 500 houses and 35 ships, then floods Providence, R.I.; in 1819 John Farrar (1779-1853) of Harvard U. first proposes that a hurricane is a "moving vortex and not the rushing forward of a great body of the atmosphere".
In 1845 pop. of Ireland: 8M (vs. 4M in 1800, and 6M in 1850); Potato Late Blight (Phytophthora infestans) imported from the Americas infects potato crops in Ireland, which, combined with the prior reduction from four potato varieties (Black, Apple, Cup, Lumper) to one (Lumper, the least tasty, but most prolific) causes starvation to a large portion of the Irish this autumn and next winter, causing 32K to migrate to Quebec (70K more next year) in "coffin ships", dying of cholera and being buried in mass graves on shore; the avg. Irish person consumes 10 (70?) potatoes a day; there are 65K Irish potato farms of an acre or less; total potato acrage: 6M; total potato production: 15M tons/year, reduced 90% by the famine; PM Peel (Potato Peel?) proposes repeal of the Corn Law and importation of Indian corn to make food as cheap as possible, but his cabinet refuses to support him, so he resigns; attempts of Lord John Russell to form a Whig cabinet fail, and Peel returns with a new cabinet pledged to the repeal of the Corn Law.
On Apr. 27, 1865 (2:00 a.m.) the 1.7K-ton Mississippi River sidewheel steamboat Sultana (launched Jan. 3, 1863), en route from St. Louis, Mo. to New Orleans, La. carrying Union POWs home has a triple boiler explosion a short distance out of Hopefield, Ark. (7 mi. N of Memphis, Tenn.), killing 1,547 of 2.3K aboard, mostly from Andersonville and Cahaba prison camps, from burning or drowning; it was designed to carry only 376, but previous steamers had left almost empty and bribery is suspected? - good month for bottom-feeders?
On Dec. 28, 1879 (7:15 p.m.) the Tay Bridge Disaster in Scotland sees it collapse during a violent storm when a train en route from Wormit to Dundee passes over it, killing all aboard, revealing shoddy construction by Scottish engineers - and is the original source of the phrase "Beam me up, Scotty"?
Atlas cracks his toe in Indonesia? Krakonesia, biggest volcano grave on Earth? On Aug. 26-27, 1883 the small volcanic island of Krakatoa (Krakatau) in Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra (100 mi. W. of Batavia) erupts with a ginormous explosive force of 100 megatons (force 6), creating a 120-ft.-high tsunami which travels 5,450 mi. to South Africa in 12 hours and drowns 36K people; a Dutch warship in Batavia (Djakarta) 100 mi. away is washed ashore and left stranded .5 mi. inland 30 ft. above sea level; the sound (largest noise ever heard by man?) is heard 3K mi. away in Bangkok; at Batavia people have to light their lamps during the day; for the next two years a thin haze of particles can be seen in the night sky as far away as London, and for three years all over the world sunrise and sunet are brilliantly colored; the explosion leaves a 2,667-ft. cone, and the island shrinks from 18 sq. mi. to 6 sq. mi.; the explosion causes the Muslims of Indonesia to call it a sign from Allah and began a jihad to push the Dutch out.
Galveston, oh Galvesto-o-n? On Sept. 8, 1900 Galveston, Tex., the #2 wealthiest city in the U.S. after New York City is struck by the Category 4 (145 mph) 1900 (Great) Galveston Hurricane (Aug. 27-Sept. 17), killing 6K-12K and almost wiping the city off the map, throwing smug Americans who thought they ruled the world into denial, becoming the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history (until ?); the authorities failed to order evacuation, thinking they were immune from Mother Nature?
On Dec. 30, 1903 (3:15 p.m.) a fire at the recently opened Iroquois Theatre in Chicago, Ill. kills 602+ and injures 250, becoming the worst theater fire to date in the U.S. (until ?); the play Mr. Bluebeard is playing that night.
What in Sam Hill? Millennium Feverists get a godsend in Fawlty Towers California? On Apr. 18, 1906 (5:12 a.m.) the 7.8 1-min. 8.25 North Am. Plate 1906 (Great) San Francisco Earthquake in Calif., centered in San Francisco, located on the 600-mi. San Andreas Fault Zone lays 490 city blocks waste, demolishes 25K bldgs., and breaks gas mains and power lines, causing four days of fire and $400M in property damage; 3K-6K are killed and 250K left homeless; the board of supervisors whitewashes it, pegging the official death toll at 478 for decades; Lotta's Fountain (donated in 1875 by dancer Lotta Crabtree) at Market, Geary and Kearny Sts. in downtown is used as a meeting point for survivors trying to locate family and friends; the Westin St. Francis Hotel survives, and offers 10 survivors a free room for the night; their breakfast menu is chilled rhubarb, rice griddle cakes, southern hominy, and scrambled eggs; the newly-formed Pentecostal Church sees it as a sign of the End of Times, causing its ranks to swell with don't-let-freezer-burn-happen-to-your-family true believers pretending another quake is coming and rolling around on the floor; Los Angeles overtakes San Fran as the city of choice for Calif. newcomers; as it is rebuild the famously crooked Lombard St. winds down Russian Hill; Pacific Heights becomes home to classic Victorian homes; 710 Ashbury St. at its intersection with Haight St. later becomes home to the Grateful Dead; the S turntable for cable cars is at Market and Powell Sts.
On Mar. 25, 1911 (Sat.) just before closing time the Triangle Shirtwaist Co. Fire on the top three floors of the 10-story Asch Bldg. in New York City at Washington Pl. and Greene St. (1 block E of Washington Square) kills 146 out of 500 $6-$8 per week female workers (daughters of Jewish and Italian immigrant families who had struck unsuccessfully against working conditions a year earlier, some as young as 13-y.-o.) in an overcrowded sweatshop with blocked fire exits; it starts on the 8th floor, causing half of the workers working on the 9th floor to be trapped, and 54 to leap to their deaths while 92 more perish in the fire after a fire escape collapses, fire ladders only reach to the 6th floor, and water from firehoses to the 7th floor; in June after a resolution introduced by Henry Moskowitz, the N.Y. legislature appoints a 9-member Factory Investigation Commission headed by Alfred E. Smith and Robert F. Wagner Sr., which investigates for four years and issues extensive recommendations for legislation, shocking the U.S. into enacting workplace safety regulations.
It's judgment time as Man and the Icy Abyss of High Tech come face to face with corporate disregard of public safety in the quest for profits, shattering the faith in golden progress of the Gilded Age? On Apr. 10, 1912 (Wed.) (noon) after a christening in Belfast, Ireland before a crowd of 100K on Apr. 2, "unsinkable" 46.3K-ton 852.5 ft. (4 city blocks) (world's largest ship, built for comfort and luxury not speed) RMS Titanic ("the Millionaires' Special") (call letters MGY) of the White Star Line (part of a trio with Olympic and never-built Gigantic), built by the Belfast shipbuilding firm of Harland and Wolff, and captained by veteran (highest-paid ship captain in the world) (last voyage before retirement) Capt. Edward John Smith (b. 1850) (who captained the maiden voyage of the Olympic, and freezes up during the sinking, failing to give vital orders and allowing the passengers and crew to feel no sense of emergency) leaves Southampton, England on its maiden voyage for New York City with 2,223 crew and passengers (collectively worth $500M) (771 3rd class or steerage passengers, mainly immigrants, who are treated like cattle, but are delighted with the accomodations, incl. newfangled toilets); the ship carries only 20 68-person lifeboats, incl. 4 collapsible ones, all of which could have been safely overloaded in the calm seas; 2nd class tickets cost as much as 1st class ones on other ships; Shipbuilder mag. calls it "practically unsinkable"; the South Western Hotel in Southampton is booked by the richer passengers to wait for departure; J.P. Morgan books passage but cancels at the last minute; as it departs Southampton, its suction causes the New York to break free from its mooring, almost colliding with it; a fire breaks out in a bunker, which is still burning when it sinks on the calm moonless night of Apr. 14-15 (Sun.-Mon.); on Apr. 10 (eve.) it docks in Cherbourg, France to pick up more passengers; on Apr. 11 it docks in Queenstown, Ireland, where the last photos of life aboard the ship that survive are taken; on Apr. 12 a warning is received from the French liner La Turenne about an approaching ice field; on Apr. 14 Sun. services are held, and a spectacular sunset is enjoyed, along with the best food of the voyage for dinner; on Apr. 14 at 9:00 p.m. Capt. Smith visits the bridge to discuss arrangements for spotting icebergs, asking them to let him know if anything appears; on Apr. 14 at 10:00 p.m. the watch on the bridge is changed, with binoculars forgotten; too bad, the captain orders the crew to beat the Olympic's speed record and get into New York City on Tues. night before it is scheduled to arrive, at the urging of White Star Line pres. (a passenger) J. Bruce Ismay, who according to passenger Emily Ryerson hands the captain an iceberg warning from the Baltic, telling him to speed up to avoid it; the ship received 8+ telegraph warnings about icebergs, incl. that they were already inside a large ice field; as it goes down, the band on deck plays the hymn Abide with Me; of course Ismay has no trouble getting on a lifeboat, making coded arrangements to sail out of the U.S. fast in a patent attempt to avoid prosecution, only to be tagged when the Carpathian docks in New York City and handed a subpoena to the Smith Committee investigation of the disaster, chaired by U.S. Sen. (Mich.) William Smith, testifying that he was just another passenger who did nothing to influence the conveniently dead captain; on Apr. 14 at 10:21 p.m. the Californian, captained by Capt. Stanley Lord reaches the same ice field as the Titanic, and stops for the night, radioing Titanic about it, receiving the rebuke "Shut up, shut up, I am busy" at 10:40 p.m., causing the Californian radio operator to turn in for the night at ? p.m.; on Apr. 14 at 11:40 p.m. as Titanic cruises at 21-22 knots, lookout Fredrick Fleet (b. 1887) utters the immortal soundbyte "Iceberg, right ahead!", and after the engines are unwisely reversed, making the slow-responding ship (rudder too small) unable to turn sufficiently (they could have saved themselves by ordering full steam ahead to give the rudder the needed torque to turn?), it scrapes a black (blue) (virtually invisible) iceberg on its starboard side, creating a tear along one-third the length of the ship (the first six watertight compartments, more than it was designed to survive), and sinks 400 mi. SE of Cape Race, Newfoundland in 12.5K ft. of salty ice water at 2:20 a.m. on Apr. 15; passenger Henry Sleeper Harper (1864-1944) sees the iceberg scraping the ship out of his window; there is no public announcement system to alert passengers, and the 3rd class passengers are a motley polyglot group, with no ship translators; radio messages give the location as 41 deg 46 min N, 50 deg 14 min W; the distress signal sent is CQD, followed by the new signal SOS; at 12:27 a.m. the last radio signals are transmitted; at 12:30 a.m. the ship lists noticeably as the watertight compartments lack watertight tops, turning the ship into a gigantic ice cube tray; at 12:45 a.m. after spotting a ship off the port bow 5 mi. away, Titanic begins shooting off distress rockets, causing the complacent passengers to wake up to their peril; the Californian 10 mi. away sees the rockets and wakes Capt. Stanley Lord, and after failing to get a response to a Morse lamp and seeing no more rockets, figures that it steamed away; at 1:00 a.m. the ship's string Band That Played On begins playing on deck; only women and children are permitted on the lifeboats (except crewmen, who row), many of which are launched at less than full capacity, esp. the first ones because people didn't believe there was any danger; the ship's builder Thomas Andrews Jr. (b. 1873) (who initially estimates that the ship will sink in 1-2 hours) is among those who go down with the Titanic, incl. millionaire John Jacob Astor IV (b. 1864) (richest person on board) (cousin of William Waldorf Astor, and great-grandson of John Jacob Astor), whose 19-y.-o. 5-mo.-pregnant cradle-robber wife Madeleine Talmage Force Astor (1893-1940), maid Rosalie Bidois, and nurse Caroline Endres are rescued, while he, his pet airedale Kitty, and his valet Victor Robbins aren't, with cigarette-puffing tough-meets-classy-stylish-ridgeline Astor telling Madeline after she boards the lifeboat: "The sea is calm. You're in good hands. I'll see you in the morning"; millionaire playboy Benjamin Guggenheim (b. 1865) and his French singer mistress Leontine Pauline Aubart (1887-1964); celebs Isidor Straus (b. 1845) (co-owner since 1896 of Macy's dept. store in New York City) (and his wife, who refuses to leave him), William Thomas Stead (b. 1849) (English #1 journalist), U.S. maj. Archibald Willingham Butt (b. 1865) (White House chief military advisor, whose disappearance causes Pres. Taft to send U.S. Navy cruisers Chester and Salem to the scene), Francis Davis Millet (b. 1848) (artist), and Jacques Futrelle (b. 1875) (Am. detective story writer); ENglish Roman Catholic father Thomas Roussel Davids Byles (1870-1912) forgoes a lifeboat to minister to the other passengers, and is fast-tracked for sainthood?; a total of 1517 are killed, incl. 832 passengers and 685 crew, incl. the boiler room workers, who work to keep the generators and lights going until all lifeboats are gone; Guggenheim issues the immortal soundbyte "We are dressed in our best, and are prepared to go down like gentlemen"; survivor Molly Brown (1867-1932), a suffragette who founds the Denver Woman's Club in Colo. steals the epithet "Unsinkable" from the sunken ship, becoming a celeb; future Nat. Broadcasting Co. (NBC) founder David Sarnoff (1891-1971), working for the Marconi Wireless Co. gains fame by narrating news of the disaster; the SS California, only 8 mi. away stinks itself up by failing to have an officer on duty and missing the distress signal; the RMS Carpathia 70 mi. away is the first to answer the SOS, picking up 706 survivors in 19 lifeboats; its own wreck is discovered in 1999 120 mi. off the English coast; 7-y.-o. novelist Graham Greene (1904-91) later claims in his 1971 autobio. A Sort of Life that he dreamt about the ship sinking the night it was lost; Am. passenger (feminist writer) Helen Churchill Candee (1858-1949) gives a locket to friend Edward Austin Kent (b. 1854) after the ship hits the iceberg, and it is found in his jacket pocket when his body is recovered, while Candee survives and writes a 36-page Description of the Sinking of the Titanic, which fetches $85K in a London auction on Apr. 29, 2006, plus $100K for the locket; the wooden lifeboats are recycled by the White Star Line, and eventually all rot; although 61 children are killed, 2-y.-o. Lorraine Allison is the only child from 1st or 2nd class to die after her parents keep her aboard to look for her brother; in 1940 Helen Kramer (-1992) claims to be her, but in Jan. 2014 the claim is debunked with a DNA test; London-born Elizabeth Gladys "Millvina" Dean (1912-2009), the youngest passenger on board (9 weeks old), who becomes the last survivor and never marries dies in her sleep on May 31, 2009 at age 97 of pneumonia, on the 98th anniv. of the Titanic's launch in a nursing home in Ashurst, Hampshire; in 2010 it is revealed by the family of 2nd officer Charles Herbert Lightoller (1874-1952) (highest ranking officer to survive) that the Titanic sunk because the helmsman panicked and turned the ship the wrong way, and after it struck the iceberg the ship wouldn't have sunk if it hadn't moved off; the Titanic was really the RMS Olympic, whose keel had been badly bent in its Sept. 1911 collision with the HMS Hawke, and J.P. Morgan wanted to crash and sink it on an iceberg to collect insurance to pay the £800K owed, which is why the Titanic had special longitudinal bulkheads to brace the keel?; the real reason that the Titanic sunk is a 1K F fire that had been buning for three weeks and weakened the metal?; the White Star Line begins a coverup, initially claiming that the ship didn't sink and that all the passengers were rescued on lifeboats, sending a special train to Halifax, N.S. to pick them up; the New York Times gets a hunch from the lack of communications to pub. a scoop that the Titanic sunk, rocketing the newspaper's rep to the top; the coverup story is initially that the Titanic sunk intact, despite witnesses to the contrary, and after the wreck is discovered broken into two pieces in 1985, the story is changed to claim that the Titanic's stern rose high into the air before the ship broke in two and sunk, when later investigations prove that it broke at the aft expansion joint at a shallow angle of 11-12 deg., which meets or exceeds the design reqts. for withstanding large waves, making a coverup unnecessary; on May 12 the British Board of Trade Investigation begins in London, whitewashing and exonerating the White Star Line because they were responsible for its oversight.
December 7, er, 6, Pearl, er, Halifax Harbor? On Dec. 6, 1917 (9:04 a.m.) French munitions ship SS Mont-Blanc collides with Norwegian vessel SS Imo and explodes in the harbor of Halifax, N.S., destroying much of the city and killing 1,950 and injuring 9K (20% of the city's pop.), becoming the greatest manmade explosion until the atomic bomb?
Speaking of germs, Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore? In Mar. 1918 after a new strain of influenza spread around the globe last fall then mutated, and U.S. war secy. Newton D. Baker issues a "work or fight" order, mandating that virtually every activity in the U.S. be devoted to the war effort, the 1918 Spanish Influenza (Flu) (H1N1) Pandemic begins in Kansas and is carried to France by U.S. soldiers; either that or it begins with some of the 96K Chinese laborers working behind British and French lines in WWI; after a dip in activity in July, it goes over the top and kills 20M-50M worldwide (most between 20-40 years of age) by next year, incl. 500K in the U.S., becoming the worst killer in history (until ?) (and the world war just a pimple on its butt?); avg. life expectancy in the U.S. drops by over 10 years; the entire pop. of San Francisco, Calif. is ordered to wear gauze masks; up to 90% in isolated rural communities die, compared to less than 1% in urban areas; on Sept. 26 the military draft calls for Oct. are cancelled; the mass deaths were really caused by aspirin overdoses?; the pandemic sprang from North Am. domestic and wild birds, not swine?
On Oct. 24, 1929 (Thurs.) Black Thursday is the beginning of the U.S. stock market crash, with 12,894,650 shares traded; the real fun starts next Tues. On Oct. 28 (Mon.) Black Monday sees 9M shares traded as prices continue to fall. Down on the corner, out in the street? Black Tuesday drops a bomb on the world? On Oct. 29 (Tues.) after a small temporary drop on Mar. 26, followed by a "golden summer" when the NYSE sets a record on Sept. 19 (Thur.), the huge WWI war debt finally catches up with the world as Black Tuesday descends upon the New York Stock Exchange, which crashes as 16M shares are traded, causing thousands of investors to be wiped out amid panic selling, leading the Fed to begin tightening credit, followed by a worldwide Great Depression; stock prices reach their lowest point on Nov. 13 (Wed.), falling from an avg. of 311.90 in Sept. to 164.43; industrial avgs. fall from 469.49 to 220.95 (a total of $30B in listed stock value wiped out in the NYSE); the Oct. 30 issue of Variety carries the title "Wall Street Lays An Egg"; part of the blame for the panic goes to the slowness of mechanical stock tickers; Jewish financier Bernard Mannes Baruch (1870-1965) brings Winston Churchill to personally view the NYSE on Oct. 24, fueling the speculations of conspiracy theorists, esp. after Baruch later becomes the person to coin the term "Cold War"?; gasoline, which costs 21.4 cents a gal. this year in the U.S. begins its own crash, not recovering to this level until 1947, after which it holds at 27 cents from 1949-52; Pres. Hoover attempts to take a leadership role with business and labor to smooth the nation over "rough spots", but fails to ask Congress for major legislation, allowing the latter to put the blame on him later, even though they proposed no new legislation either?
On Mar. 17, 1936 (St. Patrick's Day) the Johnstown Flood of 1936 hits Johnstown, Penn. (first flood 1889, next flood 1977), killing 25 and reaches Pittsburgh, destroying 100K bldgs and causing $250M in damage, putting 60K steel workers out of work, killing 69 and injuring 500, becoming its worst flood (until ?).
5-6-37-boom? On May 6, 1937 (Thur.) the 830-ft. hydrogen-filled German Zeppelin LZ 129 Hindenburg (call sign DEKKA), commanded by Ernst August Lehmann (b. 1886) explodes and burns as it approaches its mooring tower at the Lakehurst, N.J. Naval Air Station, killing 13 passengers and 22 crew out of 36 passengers and 61 crew aboard, plus a Navy crewman on the ground, Lehmann uttering the deathbed soundbyte "It must have been an infernal machine"; Herbert O. "Herb" Morrison (1905-89) of Chicago's WLS radio gives the first recorded eyewitness news broadcast as he describes the disaster ("It's burning, bursting into flames") and breaks down in tears; the ship made 10 passenger-carrying round trips in 1936, and this is the first and last crossing of 1937; the U.S. monopily refused to sell helium to the Germans, forcing them to use hydrogen, and therefore it's a conspiracy, as dirigible development virtually ends in favor of more expensive, fuel-wasting and lucrative powered aircraft, produced in the U.S.? - fuel prices finally get so high that dirigibles make a comeback in ?
Fatal Blunder Two for Hitler: Declaring war on the U.S. while overengaged in Europe leads to the very world war he blames on the Jews? On Dec. 7, 1941 (7:55 a.m.) after U.S. ambassador to Japan (since 1932) Joseph Clark Grew (1880-1965) warns FDR of a possible attack, and minutes before/after Japan declares war on the U.S. and U.K., after running overnight with no lights and in radio silence in heavy seas, catching the entire U.S. Pacific Fleet minus its three aircraft carriers and their escorts (which are delivering planes to Midway) anchored like sitting ducks, the Japanese First Air Fleet attacks the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor on "the Gathering Place" Oahu, with a first wave of 183 planes from six Japanese carriers 275 mi. N led by Capt. Mitsuo Fuchida (1902-76) (who leads the attack on Darwin, Australia next Feb. 19, becomes a Christian evangelist in 1950, and a U.S. citizen in 1960), while U.S. Army planes are caught on the ground at nearby Hickam and Wheeler Airfields; the Japanese code signal to begin the Pearl Harbor attack is "Climb Mount Nitaka"; the planes reach Ford Island at 7:55 a.m.; the 2nd wave of 167 planes arrives at 8:40 a.m.; the U.S. loses 188 planes at Hickham, Wheeler, and Bellows Airfields (incl. 159 damaged), and 320 aircraft total that day, with not one U.S. fighter taking off; the Japanese drop 20 tons of bombs, sinking 12 ships and heavily damaging nine more (9 battleships, 3 light cruisers, 3 destroyers, 4 auxiliary vessels, a minelayer and a target ship), with 2,403 killed incl. 68 civilians and 1,178 wounded, which the U.S. govt. understates to the public; the Japanese lose 29 aircraft and five midget subs along with 64 men KIA; Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki (1918-99) becomes the first Japanese POW after his midget sub runs aground on Oahu (make me some saki, sucker?); too bad, the Japanese screw up by failing to destroy repair facilities, submarine pens, and fuel storage tanks; the U.S. is only left with two battleships capable of combat (out of 9) vs. 10 for the Japanese; the battleships sunk are the USS Arizona, which sinks after a torpedo hits a gun magazine, going down in 9. min, killing 1,177 of 1,500 (80%), along with Adm. Isaac Campbell Kidd Sr. (b. 1884); the USS Oklahoma, which rolls over on its side, pinning many underwater, killing 429 of 1,301 crew; the USS West Virginia, which is struck by many bombs and torpedoes; the USS California (salvaged); and the USS Utah; only damaged are the battleships USS Maryland, USS Nevada (beached), USS Pennsylvania, and USS Tennessee; a Photo of the USS Shaw Exploding becomes one of the most famous combat photos of WWII, along with a Movie of the USS Arizona Sinking; African-Am. mess attendant Doris "Dorie" Miller (1919-43) of the battleship USS West Virginia becomes a hero after he takes the place of a dead machine-gun operator and shoots down four Japanese airplanes sans training, receiving a Navy Cross; he is then promoted, er, assigned to the aircraft carrier Liscome Bay as a steward until a Jap sub sinks it on Nov. 24, 1943.
On Nov. 28, 1942 (Sat.) (night) satin decorations covering the 900-sq.-ft. ceiling of the basement Melody Lounge of the Cocoanut Grove nightclub (cap. 460) in Bay Village, Boston, Mass. catch fire, causing an inferno that kills 492, incl. cowboy film star Buck Jones (b. 1889), mainly from asphyxiation caused by inward-opening exit doors; earlier that day the 8-0 Boston College Eagles football team was upset 55-12 by 3-4-1 Holy Cross, and cancelled their reservations?
On June 25, 1946 a fire at the St. George Terminal of the Staten Island Ferry in New York City kills three and injures 280.
On Dec. 5-9, 1952 the Great Smog (Big Smoke) of London kills 4K-12K and injures 200K, becoming the worst air pollution disaster in U.K. history (until ?), resulting in the 1956 British Clean Air Act.
On July 25, 1956 the Italian liner SS Andrea Doria (launched June 16, 1950) (Italy's premier passenger ship, largest, fastest, and safest) en route to New York collides with the Swedish liner MS Stockholm off Nantucket Island, Mass.; when the ships are separated the next day, the Andrea Doria sinks into the 200-ft. water (11 hours after the crash), making half of its lifeboats unusuable, killing 51, incl. 46 on the Italian ship (over 1.6K are rescued); Cary Grant's LSD-loving 3rd wife (1949-62) Betsy Drake is a passenger on the Andrea Doria returning from a trip to Italy to visit him, later learning he was hooking up with Sophia Loren, after which they separate in 1958; 14-y.-o. Andrea Doria passenger (stateroom 52) Linda Morgan (1942-), daughter of news commentator Edward Paddock Morgan (1910-93) is dubbed the "Miracle Girl" when she is found alive in the other ship after the separation; an Aerial Photo of the Sinking of the Andrea Doria by Harry A. Trask of the Boston Traveller wins the Pulitzer Prize for best photo of 1956; the last reel of the 1955 film Foxfire (starring Jane Russell and Jeff Chandler) is showing on the Doria in the tourist section theater when the collision occurs.
On Sept. 15, 1958 a Central Railroad of New Jersey train goes through an open drawbridge on the Newark Bay Bridge near Bayonne, N.J. killing 47 and injuring 48 of 200 passengers; after the number 932 shows on an AP photo, numbers racket bookies take a large number of bets on it, and when it comes up on the next drawing, Irish-Am. N.J. bookie (since age 13) Joseph Vincent "Newsboy" Moriarty (1910-79) pays them all off, lending money to other bookies, pissing-off Harlem mob boss Mike Coppola, who gets him arrested and imprisoned in N.J. State Prison; on July 2, 1962 a 1947 Plymouth is found abandoned in a garage in Jersey City with $2.6M in cash in it, which is later traced to Moriarty.
On Nov. 9, 1965 (5:16 p.m. EST) (17:16 9-11-65) the Great Northeast Blackout of 1965 occurs during rush hour (beginning at 4:44 p.m.) in an 80K sq. mi. area of Ontario, New York and New England (seven NE states and two Canadian provinces) inhabited by 30M as Sir Adam Beck Station No. 2 four mi. W of Niagara Falls on the Canadian side of the border trips a relay, and by 5:38 a domino effect completes the blackout; New York City goes black at 5:27 p.m.; mucho leche flows in the dark as people begin playing hot rabbit?; 62M phone calls are placed in New York City, the most ever recorded in one day; the blackout is traced to the Beck plant on Nov. 15; the blackout lasts up to 13.5 hours.
On Dec. 12, 1972 Ronald Neame's The Poseidon Adventure (20th Cent. Fox) debuts, based on the 1969 Paul Gallico novel, featuring a star-studded cast incl. Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Shelley Winters, Red Buttons, Jack Albertson, and Stella Stevens (Jan. 1960 Playboy Playmate of the Month) as passengers on cruise ship SS Poseidon that gets capsized on New Year's Eve en route from New York to Athens, causing its 10 survivors (out of 1.4K) to have to climb up inside the upside-down boat to the hull; creates the new film genre of big cast disaster flick; orcalike Winters' swimming feats in a submerged boiler room becomes a classic (her 3rd drowning victim role); The Morning After by Maureen McGovern wins a best song Oscar; #2 grossing film of 1972 ($93.3M U.S. and $127.3M worldwide box office on a $4.7M budet); refilmed in 2005 and 2006.
On Dec. 14, 1974 John Guillermin's The Towering Inferno (20th Cent. Fox) (Warner Bros.) (first major Hollywood studio joint feature) debuts, based on the novels "The Tower" by Richard Martin Stern and "The Glass Inferno" by Thomas N. Scortia and Frank M. Robinson about a San Fran skyscraper on fire, starring Paul Newman and Steve McQueen leading an all-star cast incl. William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, Richard Chamberlain, O.J. Simpson, Robert Vaughn, Robert Wagner, Dabney Coleman, and Jennifer Jones (last film appearance); does $139.7M box office on a $14.3M budget (highest-grossing film of 1974).
On July 13-14, 1977 the 25-hour 1977 New York City Blackout hits the New York City area after lightning strikes on upstate power lines, causing looters to rampage while the rabbits rustle, causing $150M in theft and property damage; Con Edison is later found guilty of negligence.
On Mar. 28, 1979 (4:00 a.m. EST) there is a little ole accident at the new Metropolitan Edison Co. Three Mile Island Nuclear Station in Dauphin County near Harrisburg and Middletown, Penn. when the Unit Two reactor almost melts down after losing cooling water, dumping tons of water into an auxiliary bldg. through an improperly open valve, causing 144K to be evacuated despite little radiation being released; Pres. Carter tours the facility on Apr. 1 along with Penn. gov. Dick Thornburgh; the bad publicity causes 11 nuclear reactor projects in the U.S. to be cancelled this year, and no new construction is announced until 2010; other nations incl. the Soviet Union, Japan and France continue to build them; it costs $1B and takes until 1993 to remove the damaged nuclear fuel - are people living downwind inflicted with increased cancer rates, or was this a staged disaster to test the fledgling FEMA?
On Nov. 21, 1980 (dawn) a 2-hour fire at the 26-story 2,076-room MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nev. (built in 1973 under safety codes that don't require smoke alarms) traps 3.5K and kills 85 and injures 500 after 1K+ are helicoptered from the roof, becoming the worst U.S. hotel fire since the 1946 Winecoff Hotel fire in Atlanta, Ga. that killed 119.
On May 23, 1984 a methane gas explosion at the Abbeystead Water Treatment Works in Lancashire, England kills 16.
On Dec. 2-3, 1984 (night) deadly methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas leaks from a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradhes, , killing 3,787 and injuring 558,125, 3.9K of them permanently disabling, incl. blinding; up to 15K allegedly later die from the delayed effects, incl. cancer, TB, and birth defects; the Indian govt. sues Union Carbide for $3B, and the Indian supreme court in Feb. 1989 orders them to pay $470M in damages; on June 7, 2010 chmn.-CEO Warren Anderson (1921-2014) and six other employees are convicted of negligent homicide and sentenced to 2 years in jail and a $2K fine.
On Jan. 28, 1986 NASA Space Shuttle Challenger Mission STS-51-L (mission #10) explodes 73 sec. after liftoff while millions (incl. many school kids) watch helplessly as their schoolteacher astronaut Christa McAuliffe and the other astronauts just go poof; Sally K. Ride serves on the board investigating the accident; the crew incl. Francis Richard "Dick" Scobee (1939-86), Michael John "Mike" Smith (1945-86), Ellison Shoji Onizuka (1946-86), Judith Arlene Resnick (1949-86) Ronald Ervin McNair (1950-86), Sharon Christa Corrigan McAuliffe (1948-86), Gregory Bruce Jarvis (1944-86); backup crew incl. teacher Barbara Radding Morgan (1951-); asteroids #3350-3356 are named for the crew.
On Apr. 26, 1986 (01:23 a.m.) a nuclear accident at a poorly-designed power plant (reactor #4) in Chernobyl near Pripyat, Ukraine N of Kiev releases radioactive pollution and results in the first radiation fatalities from a nuclear power plant; a 300 sq. mi. area is evacuated, and 60 die, 31 as a direct result of the fire, plus 29 rescuers, firefighters and plant workers who die later from radiation poisoning and burns; damage is estimated at $130B over a 77.22K sq. mi. area; 9.3K are likely to die of radiation cancers ultimately, according to the U.N. health agency on 4-18-2006 (Greenpeace claims 10X that); a 1.1M ton steel-concrete sarcophagus is hastily built over the reactor to contain the 200 ton glob of radiactive gunk that fused at temperatures up to 1.8K F while a multinat. $1.1B project to build a permanent steel arch stalls for decades?
On Mar. 24, 1989 (12:04 a.m. local time) the nation's worst oil spill (until 2010) occurs as the supertanker Exxon Valdez, under Capt. Joseph Jeffrey Hazelwood (1946-) runs into Bligh Reef in Alaska's Prince William Sound and begins leaking 260K barrels (10.8M gal.) of crude out of its cargo of 54M gal., its remote location making cleanup efforts more difficult as the oil covers 1.3K mi. of coastline and 11K sq. mi. of ocean; Hazelwood is cleared of being intoxicated and convicted of negligent discharge of oil, fined $50K, and sentenced to 1K hours of community service.
On Apr. 15, 1989 96 are killed and 766 injured in a crush of Liverpool soccer fans against high fences at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England in a game against Nottingham Forest, becoming Britain's worst sporting accident (until ?).
On Oct. 17, 1989 (5:04 p.m.) the 6.9 1989 Loma Prieta (Watsonville) (San Francisco) Earthquake, centered in the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park 10 mi. NE of Santa Cruz hits the San Francisco (N Calif.) area minutes before the start of World Series Game 3, killing 63, injuring 3,757 and causing $5.6-$6B in damage; the WS is delayed for 10 days.
On July 1, 1998 Michael Bay's Armageddon (Touchstone Pictures) (Buena Vista Pictures) debuts, starring Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Steve Buscemi, Billy Bob Thornton, Will Patton, Michael Clarke Duncan, Owen Wilson, Peter Stormare, and Liv Tyler, attempting to cash in on Millennium Fever with a giant asteroid threatening to impact Earth and a special NASA expedition to deflect it combined with silly love affairs and overblown heroism; #2 movie of 1998 ($202M U.S. and $553.7M worldwide box office on a $140M budget); "It's time to kick some asteroid."
On Sept. 11, 2001 (Tues.) Pres. George W. Bush is targeted in an assassination plot by al-Qaida in Sarasota, Fla.? On Sept. 11 (Tues.) the New York Times pub. a story about ex-Weatherman radical Bill Ayers, quoting him as saying "I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough." On Sept. 11 (Tues.) the 9/11 Attacks see the New York City skyline changed after 19 lowdown cowardly stinking crazed Satan-controlled Muslim raghead jihad terrorist scumbags (incl. 15 Saudis) hijack four U.S. commercial airliners and take over the unprotected cabins, using flying lessons given them in the U.S. to steer and crash into the twin towers of the World Trade Center (WTC) (dedicated in Apr. 1973), and also the Pentagon; Am. Airlines Flight 11 (Boeing 767) from Boston to Los Angeles hits the North Tower at 8:46:26 a.m. with a direct hit that disables all the elevators; actor Tony Perkins' wife Berinthia "Berry" Berenson-Perkins (b. 1948) is on Flight 11; United Airlines Flight 175 (Boeing 767) from Boston to Los Angeles hits the South Tower at 9:02:54 a.m. at an angle, permitting people to escape; Am. Airlines Flight 77 from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles hits the SW face of the Pentagon at 9:43 a.m. on the 60th anniv. of its groundbreaking; it was really a U.S.-launched missile, and was covered-up?; Pres. Bush had a meeting scheduled with affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood after he arrived back at the White House; Pres. Bush first informs the nation of "an apparent terrorist attack on our country" at 9:30 from the school; at 9:45 a.m. the FAA grounds all civilian domestic and internat. flights to-from the U.S., although an El Al (Boeing 747) flight is allowed to take from JFK Airport to Tel Aviv at 4:11 p.m.; commercial flights resume on Sept. 13, followed by private flights on Sept. 14; on Sept. 20 a flight containing Bin Laden family members is allowed to leave the U.S., carrying four Americans; on Sept. 11 NBC-TV commentator Tom Brokaw answers a speculation by Matt Laurer with "This is war. This is a declaration and execution of an attack on the United States", later chanting "War! War!"; "When I saw the second airplane hit, I knew jihad has come to America" (Nonie Darwish); the South Tower implodes at 9:59:04 a.m., followed by the North Tower at 10:28:31 a.m., after the jet fuel ignites tons of paper, which causes internal temps as high as 2K F; Pres. Bush is informed of the South Tower crash at 9:07 a.m. by White House chief of staff (2001-6) Andrew Hill "Andy" Card Jr. (1947-) while visiting with 2nd grade (mainly black) students at Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Fla., and turns red, but stays with the kids, reading aloud from the children's story The Pet Goat (by Siegfried Engelmann and Elaine C. Bruner) with them; British-born former U.S. Army officer Cyril Richard "Rick" Rescoria (b. 1939), vice-pres. of security at Morgan Stanley (scheduled for retirement at year's end) dies after helping 2.7K coworkers to safety; after rushing in to help not knowing about the impending collapse; 343 firefighters die in the Twin Towers, and firefighter (Argentine native) Sergio Gabrial Villanueva (b. 1968) becomes a hero; Hollywood actor Steven Vincent "Steve" Buscemi (1957-) (a former NYC firefighter) quietly returns to Engine Co. 55 and works 12-hour shifts, trying to avoid publicity; two Port Authority of N.Y. and N.J. police officers survive the towers' collapse and are rescued from the rubble after 22 hours; 300K are evacuated by boat in lower Manhattan after hundreds of craft answer a Coast Guard call for help "From All Available Boats" and converge on the West Side; meanwhile United Air Lines Flight 93 from Newark, N.J. to San Francisco, Calif. carrying 37 passengers and seven crew is hijacked by Beirut, Lebanon-born pilot (al-Qaida member) Ziad Samir Jarrah (1975-2001) and three Saudi Arabia-born muscle men Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Nami (1977-2001), Ahmed Ibrahim al-Haznawi (1980-2001), and Saeed Abdallah Ali Sulayman al-Ghamdi (1979-2001), crashing at 10:03 a.m. near Shanksville in Somerset County, Penn. (60 mi. SE of Pittsburgh and 150 mi. NW of Washington, D.C.) after the 33 all-American passengers are first cowed by a fake body bomb then fight back against the four ragheads instead of cowering like sheep, and kick the surprised terrorists butts, although too late to prevent the crash; Flight 93 passenger Todd Morgan Beamer (b. 1968) becomes a U.S. hero when he quarterbacks the makeshift anti-raghead team with the all-American words "Let's roll!", which are heard on his cellphone; his sad-proud wife Lisa later founds the charity Heroic Choices; the Flight 93 Nat. Memorial is established on Sept. 24, 2002, and dedicated on Sept. 10, 2011; 2,976 are killed in the 9/11 attacks, incl. 2,605 in New York City, 125 at the Pentagon (incl. 55 military personnel), and 246 on the four planes, with 24 listed as missing, becoming the most Americans lost on U.S. soil since the Sept. 17, 1862 Battle of Antietam, and the greatest single-day civilian loss of life in the U.S. since the May 31, 1889 Johnstown Penn. Flood; Time mag. pub. a 9/11 tragedy issue with a cover photo by Lyle Owerko; many Palestinians openly celebrate the attackon the Great Satan U.S.; Iraqi pres. Saddam Hussein utters the soundbyte: "The American cowboys are reaping the fruit of their crimes against humanity"; the govts. of Cuba, Iran, Libya, and North Korea join a worldwide chorus denouncing the attacks; Arab leaders denouncing the attacks incl. King Hussein of Jordan, Egyptian pres. Hosni Mubarak, and Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri; some Muslims around the world express sympathy for the 9/11 victims, incl. a moment of silence at a World Cup match between Bahrain and Iran on Sept. 14, and a candlelight vigil by Palestinians in Jerusalem on Sept. 15 along with another in Tehran; on Sept. 14 Ireland holds a nat. day of mourning, becoming the only country other than the U.S. and Israel to do so; the Taliban in Afghanistan condemns the attacks but denies that Osama bin Laden is behind them; bin Laden also denies involvement, claiming that there is a govt. within the govt. of the U.S. that wants to turn the 21st cent. into a cent. of conflict between Islam and Christianity, suggesting U.S. Jews and intel agencies; the mastermind was mechanical engineering-trained Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (1964-); the economic repercussions cost the U.S. economy $1T (same as Bush's June 7 tax cut); 40K workers work at "The Pile" at Ground Zero for the next 8 mo., removing 1M tons of rubble, and 69% of them later develop permanent lung problems known as "WTC Cough"; NASA astronaut Frank Culbertson films the smoking WTC from space; New York Fire Dept. chaplain (Roman Catholic Franciscan friar) Father Mychal (Michael) Fallon Judge (b. 1933) dies at the WTC, becoming the "Saint of 9/11" ("God is going to make the headlines some day rather than the Devil, so don't give up"); St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church at 130 Liberty St. is destroyed, and the govt. stalls in rebuilding it until ?; St. Paul's Chapel at 209 Broadway facing Church St. opposite the E side of the WTC, where new U.S. pres. #1 George Washington prayed after his first inauguration on Apr. 30, 1789 is not harmed, and the syacmore tree in its courtyard becomes known as the 9/11 Sycamore, with a memorial later built for it (Isaiah 9:10); at 8:30 p.m. Pres. Bush gives a great Red-Blooded Am. Cowboy Speech from the White House, with the soundbyte "Make no mistake about it, the U.S. will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts"; the U.S. launches into a new kind of war, the Global War on Terror (Terrorism) (ends ?); Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaida org. are immediately suspected and become the world's most-wanted criminals, despite of a lack of hard evidence; Egyptian-born 9/11 ringleader ("Emir of the WTC Attack") Mohamed Mohamed Atta (b. 1968) (Mohamed Attacker?) (who created the jihad cell in Hamburg, Germany in the late 1990s, incl. three of the four pilots) is found to have met in Prague with an Iraqi spy, throwing suspicions on Saddam Hussein, and New York City-born U.S. nat. security adviser Richard N. Perle (1941-) allegedly either blames the 9/11 attack on Iraq or wants retaliation to incl. them; Pres. Bush activates the "shadow govt." of 75-150 top officials working 90-day shifts in underground bunkers on the East Coast; the Five Dancing Israelis incident starts with a woman named Maria claiming to see a white van with five men in it filming the burning Twin Towers, allegedly with shouts of joy, who are alleged to be Israeli Mossad agents, although they are interviewed and deny dancing etc., causing conspiracy theorists to claim 9/11 was a Mossad operation; New York City Mayor Rudolph William Louis "Rudy" Giuliani (1944-) leads the city in a heroic manner after the attacks, earning the title "America's Mayor", and calling the deaths "worse than anyone could bear"; "Vanity Fair" ed. Graydon Carter comments "I think it's the end of the age of irony"; British Queen Elizabeth II comments "Grief is the price we pay for love"; Russian pres. Vladimir Putin orders a massive expansion of intel-gathering efforts in North Am. and W Europe; a folded $20 U.S. bill shows the Twin Towers burning?; Algerian-born British airline pilot Lotfi Raissi becomes the first person accused of participating in the 9/11 attack, and is held for five mo. in Belmarsh hi-security prison in London, then put through nine years of hell until being cleared on Apr. 23, 2010; the 20-ft. Ground Zero Cross, a fortuitous configuration of fallen I-beams draws memorial messages and becomes a religious monument; Alicia Esteve Head, who is in Spain on 9/11 arrives in the U.S. in 2003 and pretends to be 9/11 Twin Towers survivor Tania Head, becoming er, head of the survivors' network until she is exposed in 2007, becoming the subject of the 2012 book The Woman Who Wasn't There: The True Story of an Incredible Deception by Robin Gaby Fisher; ; meanwhile by 2003 a joke translation of Quran 9:11 begins circulating: "For it is written that a son of Arabia would awaken a fearsome Eagle. The wrath of the Eagle would be felt throughout the lands of Allah and lo, while some of the people trembled in despair still more rejoiced, for the wrath of the Eagle cleansed the lands of Allah; and there was peace"; later conspiracy theorists begin exposing the 9/11 attacks as really perpetrated by the U.S. govt. to give them a pretext to destroy the last bastions of the Bill of Rights in the name of homeland security and give them a coverstory to invade the Middle East at will to secure oil, and point to a giant 9/11 conspiracy and coverup, incl. the framing of Muslim terrorists, who allegedly could never have accurately flown the airliners into the WTC, the fact that no fighters were scrambled to accept any of them, the fact that Osama bin Laden et al. were originally trained by the U.S., the problem that eight of those named on the FBI's list of 19 names later turn up alive and well living in different countries, and the evidences of the deliberate demolition of WTC Bldg. 7, which hadn't been struck by an airplane; later civil engineers prove WTC Bldg. 7 was in free-fall for 2.5 sec., pointing to planted explosives; others claim to rebut conspiracy allegations; did the U.S. govt murder its own people to make a power grab, then stage a coverup, stay tuned?; in Aug. 2009 a group of law enforcement officers and others who participated in the 9/11 rescue and cleanup develop immune system cancer and other health problems; by 2010 3K WTC survivors are still experienced long-term PTSD; on Mar. 11, 2010 they reach a $657.5M settlement; Saudi princess Haifa bint Faisal, wife of U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia Prince Bandar bin Sultan is later discovered to have donated money via a conduit to two of the 9/11 hijackers.
On Feb. 1, 2003 NASA Space Shuttle Columbia, which lifted off on Jan. 16 breaks up during reentry and disintegrates 40 mi. up over Palestine, Tex. as it approaches the landing area, killing all seven aboard incl. cmdr. Rick Husband, pilot William McCool, payload cmdr. Michael Anderson, engineer Kalpana Chala, David Brown, Laurel Clark, and Ilan Ramon, all while millions watch the eerie execution on TV; Ramon is the first Israeli in space; giving conspiracy kooks hay to blame Iran, since it's the 24th anniv. of Ayatollah Khomeini's return to Iran, plus the embedded letters "Iran" in Ramon's name, and the coincidence of Palestine, Tex.; the breakup is caused by hot gases escaping through a 3-in. hole in the left wing created at liftoff by a piece of foam insulation breaking off from the external fuel tank, causing NASA to spend $200M to fix the problem before the next flight in 2005; much of the debris lands in Nacogdoches, Tex.
Look what the cat dragged in? On Dec. 26, 2004 (6:58 a.m.) (Boxing Day in Britain) the 2004 Boxing Day (Indian Ocean) Tsunami sees the Sumatra-Anaman Earthquake, the strongest (9.0) earthquake in 40 years (4th largest in the last cent., equal to 1M Hiroshima-size A-bombs) strike deep beneath the Indian Ocean, unleashing 20-40 ft. tidal waves that ravage the coasts of 11 S Asian and African countries (Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand), killing 230K, destroying 430K homes, and leaving millions homeless; 2003 Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover model Petra Niemcova (1979-) and her boyfriend, fashion photographer Simon Atlee are carried away in the resort of Phuket (pr. POO-ket, not fukit?), which is totally devastated, the 2004 Sri Lanka Tsunami Train Wreck kills 1.7K, becoming the worst rail disaster in history (until ?); but she survives by clinging to a tree for 8 hours; Sri Lanka is hardest hit with over 30K dead; Poom Jensen (b. 1983), grandson of Thai King Bumipol-Adulyadej is killed in Phuket while jet skiing; actor Richard Attenborough's 14-y.-o. granddaughter Lucy is killed, along with his daughter Jane; former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl is evacuated from a Sri Lankan hotel by the Sri Lankan air force; interior designer Nate Berkus (1971-) survives the tsunami in Sri Lanka after losing his gay lover, photographer Fernando Bengoechea (b. 1965); the first tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 500 years, there was no warning system put in place like the U.S. one in the Pacific, costing only $4M a year; on Dec. 29 Pres. Bush proposes a worldwide one, at $20M a year, and one is installed on Sumatra Island by German and Indonesian scientists beginning in Oct.; Pres. Bush embarrasses the U.S. when the initial offer of a paltry $35M for emergency aid draws cries of cheapskate from Jan Egeland, U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator; the offer is raised by Dec. 31 to $350M, and total world aid offered reaches $4B ($1.3B from the U.S.) after U.N. Secy.-Gen. Kofi Annan makes a special appeal for long-term aid; Egeland later claims he was misquoted, and that he was talking about rich countries' total contribution to poor countries in dire need, not the one tsunami disaster per se; by 2006 the U.S. gives $3.16B, and individual donors $2.78B, with an avg. household donation of $135; U.S. corps. give $340M.
Katrina and the Waves Walking on Sunshine Not? America's troubles pile ever higher as it gets hit with its greatest natural disaster in a century and proves it can't respond properly? On Aug. 24, 2005 Tropical Depression 12 (begun Aug 23) strengthens into Tropical Storm Katrina; on Aug. 25 Category 1 (92 mph) Hurricane Katrina (Latrine-a?) strikes Fla.'s SE coast, killing two and leaving more than 1M customers without power before heading into the Gulf of Mexico; Kiss Me Katrina is the 11th storm of the June 1-Nov. 30 Atlantic hurricane season, seven ahead of the typical number; on Aug. 28 New Orleans mayor (2002-10) Clarence Ray Nagin Jr. (1956-) orders total evacuation; on Aug. 29 (Mon.) Hurricane Katrina increases to Category 4 (150 mph) as it closes in on the Big Easy New Orleans, causing 53 levee breaches and submerging 80% of the city, killing 1,577 in La., 221 in Miss., 14 in Fla., 2 in Ga., 2 in Ala.) and leaving 1M+ in six states without electricity in the most costly natural disaster in U.S. history ($125B); at 9:12 a.m. the Nat. Weather Service receives reports of a levee breach and issues a flash flood warning, but shortly after noon La. Dem. Gov. (2004-8) Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (1942-) mistakenly tells the Bush admin. "I think we have not breached the levee at this time"; on Aug. 29 100 die in Harrison County, Miss. (Biloxi and Gulfport); on Aug. 30 two levees break in New Orleans, leaving 80% of it underwater, up to 20 ft., and making the city uninhabitable, while rescuers in boats and helis rescue hundreds of stranded people amid looting; some areas underwater stay for 4-6 weeks, incl. 67K pop. middle-class St. Bernard Parish, and Lakeview Parish (9 ft. of water); central New Orleans is underwater for 57 days; the fortunate whites successfully flee New Orleans (in their gas-guzzling SUVs?) before the storm arrives, leaving a huge number of poor and/or elderly blacks trapped behind, looking like Third World refugees on TV, which causes white Americans to yawn and/or wink at their misfortune, and only after black may Ray Nagin announces "This is a desperate SOS" on Sept. 1 does massive federal aid arrive, finding a hellhole of human waste, looting, murders and gang rapes, and the need for martial law and complete evacuation of the city, causing 1.3M to flee the Gulf Coast, becoming the largest urban evacuation in U.S. history (until ?); on Aug. 31 10K Nat. Guard troops from across the U.S. arrive, and instead of engaging in evacuation of refugees concentrate on martial law against looting, incl. people trying to forage for food for survival?; on Sept. 5 Nagin announces the city has been "destroyed"; 30K mostly poor inner city blacks huddle up for five days in the leaky unsupplied Superdome amid tons of human waste, incl. used heroin needles, where jungle rules apply; (most of these poor human garbage, er, Afro-Am. citizens vote Democrat, so Bush thinks why get too worked up?) 28K federal troops don't arrive until Sept. 3 (five days), led by U.S. gen. Russel L. Honore (Honoré) (1947-), "the Ragin' Cajun"; one bright spot, the U.S. Coast Guard ("semper paratus") moves in fast and rescues 33K from rooftops from helis equipped with TV cameras for self-publicity; since La. supplies one-third of America's oil (4M barrels a day), it trades briefly at a record $70 a barrel; on Aug. 27 offshore oil rigs producing 1M barrels a day are shut down; on Aug. 30 gasoline prices jump 10-50 cents/gal. throughout the U.S. (and don't come back down until mid Nov.); Katrina costs 500K Americans their jobs, ruining the fun of a Sept. 2 report that the nat. unemployment rate is at a four-year low (4.9%); the disaster causes winter natural gas prices to increase over 70%; 18K slot machines in Mississippi's floating casinos are destroyed or stolen because of the hurricane; the loss of life is the greatest caused by a U.S. storm since 1928; 500K cars are damaged by the hurricane, and about half of these are refurbished and put back on the market as unsafe lemons; on Aug. 15, 2006 U.S. District Judge L.T. Senter Jr. rules that an insurance co.'s policies do not cover damage from flood waters or storm surge; attempts by the U.S. govt. to supply aid to hurricane victims results in massive fraud claims; the New Orleans Saints (NFL) end up playing home games in three different states this year; Austrian-Canadian Magna Internat. auto parts magnate Frank H. Stronach (Franz Strohsack) (1932-) buys victims a $2.4M farm near Simmesport (upriver from Baton Rouge) and provides free mobile homes to 190 residents in exchange for 8 hours a week of communityhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadaville,_Louisiana service on its self-sufficient organic farm, causing the community to become known as Canadaville; between July 2005 and July 2006 the pop. of Texas increases by 580K from Katrina refugees; the disaster causes the popularity of the name Katrina for newborn girls to plummet from #247 to 382, with only 850 given the name in the U.S. in 2006; on Nov. 18, 2009 a federal judge in New Orleans finds that the Army Corps of Engineers is liable to homeowners for damage.
On Mar. 11, 2011 the 9.0 2011 Tohoku Japan Earthquake (biggest ever) strikes off Senai (near Tokyo), causing tsunami alerts in 20+ countries, with a 33-ft. wall of water swamping town in N Japan, killing 10K and causing $35B in damage; an explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi (No. 1) Power Plant nuclear reactor 170 mi. NE of Tokyo causes radiation to hit 1Kx the safe level, causing a 6-mi. exclusion zone to be placed around it, after which a 2nd power plant explodes; on Mar. 14 the 3rd nuclear power plant explosion occurs, causing panicked residents of Tokyo to flee as the U.S. braces for possible radioactive fallout; the earthquake shortens the length of the day by 1.8 microsec.; on Mar. 15 100K protesters throughout Germany call for closing of nuclear power stations; on Mar. 17 German chancellor Angela Merkel orders Germany's older nuclear reactors to be temporarily shut down for a safety check; on Mar. 18 Pres. Obama orders a review of nuclear power plants, while standing strong on the need for more; on Mar. 26 after radioactive iodine spikes 1.2K times higher than normal in nearby seawater, Japanese authorities order the evacuation zone to be expanded to 18 mi.; on Apr. 12 Japan raises the crisis level at Fukushima to 7 (highest), equal to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.