2007 — Evel Knievel dies

One of the greatest – and definitely one of the nest known – daredevils of all time, Evel Knievel (born Robert Craig Knievel, but far better known by his stage name), was most famous for his motorcycle jumps – he attempted more than 30 between 1965 and 1980, the peak of his career. A staunch patriot, his standard costume was white leathers with red, white and blue trim in a stars and stripes motif. But it the was man himself who became the icon.

Knievel was 69 years old and long since retired at the time of his death. He had broken 35 bones in the course of his career (earning the Guinness Book of Records citation for most bones broken in a lifetime), and endured numerous surgeries. But his death came as a result of diabetes and pulmonary fibrosis, albeit complicated and worsened by the strain he had placed on his body over the years.

Referenced in:
The Skycycle Blues — B. Dolan

1984 – The Union Carbide plant at Bhopal explodes

The Bhopal disaster (also referred to as the Bhopal gas tragedy) is the worst industrial catastrophe in the history of the world.

It occurred on the night of December 2–3, 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. A number of chemicals – most notably methyl isocyanate gas – leaked out of the plant, and literally hundreds of thousands of people were exposed to it. Many of them were killed.

Estimates vary on the death toll. The official immediate death toll was 2,259 and the government of Madhya Pradesh has confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release subsequently. Other governmental agencies estimated 3,000, 8,000 and even 15,000 deaths from diseases and injuries resulting from the disaster. In 2006, a government affidavit gave a figure 558,125 injuries including 38,478 temporary partial and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries.

Union Carbide continues its business today, its safety standards not much improved from 1984.

Referenced in:
R.S.V.P. — B. Dolan
Cesspools in Eden — Dead Kennedys
I Close My Eyes — Single Gun Theory
Bhopal (Driftnet Plan) — Bob Wiseman
No Thunder, No Fire, No Rain — Tim Finn