May 31st (1962) :: For crimes against humanity, the nation of Israel hangs Nazi Holocaust superstar and war criminal Adolf Eichmann in a Ramla prison after he had been captured in Argentina and found guilty on December 11th, 1961. His last appeal attempts in May 1962 failed and the head of the Gestapo Department IV B4 for Jewish Affairs serving as a self proclaimed 'Jewish specialist' responsible for keeping the trains rolling from all over Europe to death camps during the Final Solution was later cremated and his ashes were scattered in the Mediterranean Sea...OUTSIDE the territorial waters of the Jewish state. Seems like they really wanted to be sure he's not coming back...
May 4th (1904) :: This date is the day when the U.S. took control of the Panama Canal property inheriting an almost depleted workforce coming with the obsolete buildings, infrastructure and equipment left behind by the French after their construction attempts from 1881 to 1894. The fact that a boat trip from New-York to San Francisco was going to be reduced from 21.000km to 5.300km in an era when almost nothing travelled by air, gives a good idea of how huge the stakes were on a global economic, political and military scale.
A U.S. government commission was established to oversee the project. The commission reported directly to Secretary of War, W.H. Taft, and the Americans started exercising sovereignty over the Panama Canal Zone.
Construction was completed in 1913 and the canal officially opened in 1914. In the whole process, the independent state of Panama was created after its separation from Colombia in 1903 mostly induced by a U.S. stimulated separatist uprising ultimately handing over control over the canal area to the Americans.
Easy game !
April 26th (1986) :: What is commonly referred to as the 'Chernobyl disaster' is the explosion of reactor #4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the former Ukrainian Socialist Republic of the Soviet Union near the city of Pripyat spreading large quantities of radioactive particles in the air over western parts of the USSR and Europe with evidence of the fallout found as far as Ireland in the weeks after the event although the French government had released official information explaining that the cloud of gas had stopped at their border and travelled up North... Maybe the Soviet gases did not have legal working permits to enter the hexagone but they clearly made it to the rest of Western Europe and numerous parts of the planet with the help of wind and water streams.
This enormous environmental and public health catastrophe is the worst nuclear accident to date in terms of cost and casualties. It is still reigning as number 1 on top of Level 7 (maximum) of the International Nuclear Event Scale probably making it the worst man-made disaster of all time. Congratulations, humans! The event is believed to have released 100 times more radioactivity than the military nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In 2011, Chernobyl was joined by the Fukushima Daiichi (Japan) nuclear disaster in this Level 7 classification.
So far, it is estimated that far more than 500.000 workers have participated to the hundreds-of-millions-U.S. Dollar-effort in order to contain the contamination. Various reports indicate that 25.000 of them have died and 75.000 were disabled. Additional reports suggest that up to 20% of those deaths were in fact suicides... The official death toll exceeds 100.000 world wide.
Surprisingly, numerous people have returned to the affected area with their families in order to work on site taking advantage of financial compensation offered by the government. That is how the town of Slavutych came to be for instance, the youngest city in Ukraine today, purposely built for the evacuation of the Chernobyl area after the accident and only located a few dozens of km from Pripyat. Although nature seems to have extraordinarily recovered from the nuclear aggression making the area around the plant one the worlds most unique nature sanctuaries with thriving population of wolves, deers or beavers but 30 years after the event, more than 5 million people are living in regions that are considered to be contaminated with radioactive material. Some projects plan to continue using the area for nuclear waste disposal purposes in the future.
In modern Ukraine, the impact of the psychological distress caused by the disaster is still a major public health concern. After the event, numerous doctors across Ukraine, Europe and the Soviet Union advised their pregnant patients to abort in order to avoid bearing children with birth defects despite the fact the radiation levels the women had been exposed to were 'too low to cause problems'.
Today almost all the nuclear material (around 200 tons) remain in the faulty reactor #4 surrounded by a crumbling concrete and steel emergency containment sarcophagus while the rest of the plant continued to operate until 2000. A second sarcophagus is being built since then and should be ready for 2017. Officials claim it could take up to 100 years before the station will be completely decommissioned...
April 16th (73) :: With the Romans about to breach the gates of their mountaintop fortress, about 1000 Sicarii Jews (the dominant revolutionary Jewish party fighting the Western invader back then) commit 'mass suicide' as a community at Masada in the Judaean Desert.
The radical cult apparently selected a couple of swordsmen by lottery to perform the killing act. Once the job was done, a second lottery was presumably held to end it all and kill the final nine after the majority of the buildings had been set ablaze together with goods, food reserves and corpses.
The last one finally must have fallen to his own sword. It's a tough job but someone's gotta do it...
The top banner pictures are part of a photo project by Mark Simpsons.
is a project started in 2011 that was interrupted from 2013 to 2016 until I started updating the blog again.
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