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Thursday, July 6, 2006

Today In Ill Fortune and Malfeasance

Posted by on July 6 at 16:10 PM

1535, England: Sir Thomas More, author of Utopia and sometime Lord Chancellor of England, is executed by King Henry VIII after refusing to agree to Henry’s attempt to separate the English church from the Catholic church.

1887, Hawaii: King Kalākaua is forced, at gunpoint, by American and European businessmen, to sign the Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii, commonly known as the Bayonet Constitution, which stripped power from the Hawaiian monarchy, and repealed suffrage from all Asians, poor citizens, and most of the native Hawaiians.

1942, Amsterdam: Anne Frank and family go into hiding in the “Secret Annex” above her father’s warehouse.

1944, Connecticut: The Hartford Circus Fire, one of America’s worst fire disasters, kills approximately 168 people and injures over 700. It began during a performance of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. (From Wikipedia: “Bandleader… Merle Evans, was one of the first to notice and immediately struck up John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever, show-business code for a life-threatening emergency. Ushers spotted the flame and threw buckets of water on it, but to no avail. Seconds later, the fire reached the roof. At the top of the center pole, the fire split in three directions. The announcer at center stage urged the audience not to panic and to leave in an orderly fashion, but the power went out and he could not be heard.”)

1967, southern Nigeria: Nigerian forces invade Biafra (a short-lived secessionist state), beginning the war that would kill between 600,000 and three million people, mostly through starvation and illness.

1974, Minnesota: A Prairie Home Companion makes its first live broadcast. There were 12 witnesses, most of them children.

1988, the North Sea: The Piper Alpha drilling platform explodes, and is eventually engulfed, in balls of fire. One hundred and sixty seven oil workers are killedand only sixty two survivein the world’s most fatal offshore oil disaster.

Happy birthday, big guy.

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What a waste of a day, that GWB should have a birthday on it.

re: Hartford Circus Fire - the big top was conveniently (for death) waterproofed with a mixture of kerosene and paraffin which made it go up like a torch. It’s pretty amazing more people didn’t die. A fascinating book on the subject is The Circus Fire by S. O’Nan
Though the details about the animals burning to death are rather hard to stomach. (He’s a little more sensitive about the people who perished.)

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