Category Archives: This day in History

"Malaysian Haze" Prompts State of Emergency Declaration (2005)

For a week in 2005, a choking, smog-like haze brought the central part of peninsular Malaysia to a standstill. Air quality was so poor that a state of emergency was declared in the district of Kuala Selangor and the country’s major shipping center, Port Klang. Residents were instructed to stay home, and schools were closed. Only supermarkets and essential services remained open. Miraculously, Kuala Lumpur’s main airport was unaffected. What was identified as the primary cause of the haze? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

European Heat Wave: UK's Hottest Day on Record (2003)

The European heat wave of 2003 resulted in the deaths of more than 40,000 people. In France, where summers are usually very mild and many homes do not have air conditioning, nearly 15,000 people died from heat-related issues—at a time when many physicians were on summer holiday. So many died that undertakers ran out of room in their own facilities and had to keep corpses in off-site warehouses. The UK, meanwhile, suffered through violent storms and experienced what record high temperature? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Nathan Ames Patents His "Revolving Stairs," Now Known as the Escalator (1859)

Although no working model of his design was ever built, Ames is credited with patenting the first escalator. His idea for the “revolving stairs” was largely speculative. It was not until the 1890s that the first working escalator—called the “inclined elevator”—was produced, based on another’s designs. It was installed among the amusements at New York’s Coney Island but did not remain a novelty for long. How did shoppers react when Harrods in London debuted its first escalator in 1898? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Great Train Robbery (1963)

On the night of August 7, 1963, a postal train left Glasgow with a High Value Package (HVP) coach containing registered mail and a large sum of money. Before dawn the next morning, the driver sighted a red signal and, not knowing that the light had been tampered with, brought the train to a halt as was protocol. Fifteen robbers descended on the train, attacking the train’s operators, restraining the postal workers in the HVP coach, and making off with £2.6 million. Were the robbers ever caught? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Hermine Braunsteiner Becomes First Nazi Extradited from the US (1973)

Nicknamed the “Stomping Mare” for her violent kicking of prisoners, Braunsteiner was a Nazi concentration camp guard during WWII. After the war, she spent a brief period in jail for war crimes before marrying an American and becoming a US citizen. In 1964, she was confronted at her home in New York by a reporter tipped off about her past by Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal. When her role in the war came to light, she was stripped of her citizenship and extradited to West Germany. What became of her? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

US Drops Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima (1945)

After Germany surrendered in May 1945, the Allied forces focused on ending the war in the Pacific. Japan refused to surrender, dismissing the Allies’ vows to devastate the country. The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was the first ever dropped on a populated area. At least 130,000 people were killed, injured, or declared missing, and 90 percent of the city was leveled by the blast. Another atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki three days later. When did Japan surrender? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Republic of Upper Volta, Now Burkina Faso, Gains Independence (1960)

In the European scramble for African territory in the late 19th century, France took control of the region that is now Burkina Faso. During World War I, however, the area was torn apart by violent opposition to colonial rule. To prevent continued uprisings, it was named a separate territory, Upper Volta, in 1919. When anti-colonial agitation resumed after World War II, the area became a republic, achieving full independence two years later in 1960. After what was “Upper Volta” named? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Mississippi Burning: FBI Locates Remains of Slain Civil Rights Workers (1964)

In the summer of 1964, young civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner travelled to Mississippi to help African Americans register to vote. On June 21, they disappeared. A month and a half later, the FBI found their bodies buried on a nearby farm. The Neshoba County deputy sheriff and 17 others, all Ku Klux Klan members, were indicted for the crime. Seven were convicted in 1967. One suspect whose trial ended in a hung jury was retried in 2005 and convicted of what? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Operation Sunshine: First Crossing of a Submerged Vessel at North Pole (1958)

The USS Nautilus was the world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine. In 1958, the Nautilus embarked on Operation Sunshine, during which it completed the first submerged journey across the North Pole, resurfacing northeast of Greenland 96 hours later. During the mission, deep ice in the area of the Chukchi Sea forced the Nautilus to turn back temporarily. In the event that the submarine became trapped in ice, what dramatic action did its commander plan to take? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Gulf of Tonkin Incident (1964)

While on patrol in the Gulf of Tonkin, the USS Maddox was attacked by North Vietnamese torpedo boats. Two days later, US boats were supposedly attacked again without provocation. These events—known collectively as the Gulf of Tonkin Incident—prompted US Congress to pass a resolution allowing President Lyndon B. Johnson to use military force in Southeast Asia without a formal declaration of war, leading to increased US involvement in the Vietnam War. Had there in fact been a second attack? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary