December 3 in history:
A deadly gas leak at a factory in Bhopal, India, on December 3rd, 1984, has been blamed for thousands of deaths and injuries. A chemical used to make pesticide was exposed to water at a Union Carbide plant, and the reaction led to the release of poisonous gases that spread to heavily populated areas. Many local doctors apparently were not told the proper way to treat people who had inhaled the gas. The CEO of Union Carbide was arrested briefly in Bhopal that week, and the Indian government tried to charge him with homicide years later.
The Bhopal disaster occurred on the anniversary of the 1971 war between India and Pakistan. The war started when Pakistan struck Indian military bases. Within two weeks, Pakistan surrendered. As a result of the war, East Pakistan became the state of Bangladesh.
The war broke out a few months after George Harrison and other musicians held a fund-raising Concert for Bangladesh in New York, where police confronted hundreds of people who tried to enter the concert without tickets. On December 3rd, 1979, a rush to the doors at a Who concert in Cincinnati claimed 11 lives. Many fans were suffocated or trampled when crowds tried to get into the arena, mistakenly thinking that a sound check was actually the start of the concert.
Two rock stars born with the same first and middle names have December 3rd birthdays…John Michael “Ozzy” Osbourne (1948), and Jefferson Starship singer John Michael “Mickey” Thomas (1949).
October 9 in history:
The Washington Monument opened to the public on October 9th, 1888, 40 years after construction began. The project was halted for many years because of a lack of funding and the intervention of the Civil War. The observation deck 500 feet above the ground was the highest man-made tourist spot in the world…for only seven months, until the Eiffel Tower opened in Paris.
The Eiffel Tower was built for a world’s fair celebrating the centennial of the French Revolution. The guillotine became a symbol of the Revolution, and was the official method of execution in France for almost 200 years. On this date in 1981, France ended beheadings by guillotine as it abolished the national death penalty.
“You’d better keep your head, little girl” is a line from “Run For Your Life,” a song by John Lennon about a man warning his girlfriend not to cheat on him. John’s more uplifting tunes include many love songs written with Paul McCartney, and solo songs such as “Imagine.” Lennon was born October 9th, 1940. It’s also the birthday of another man named John who performed with a famous British rock band of the Sixties, John Entwistle of The Who (1944).