1957 – A fire breaks out at Rocky Flats nuclear plant

Constructed in 1952 near Denver, Colorado, the Rocky Flats Nuclear Plant began production of bomb components, manufacturing plutonium triggers, or “pits” in 1953. By 1957, the plant had expanded to 27 buildings.

On the evening of September 11, 1957, a plutonium fire occurred in one of the gloveboxes used to handle radioactive materials, igniting the combustible rubber gloves and plexiglas windows of the box. Metallic plutonium is a fire hazard and pyrophoric; under the right conditions it may ignite in air at room temperature. The accident resulted in the contamination of Building 771 and caused US $818,600 in damage. It also occasioned the release of plutonium into the atmosphere, part of which blew over Denver. Although this particular event is not believed to have caused contamination, subsequent fires and leaks from the plant did.

Referenced in:
Cesspools in Eden — Dead Kennedys

1973 — Salvador Allende dies

More than 40 years later, it remains a matter of some dispute whether Salvador Allende, President of Chile, committed suicide (as the official version claims), or was assassinated. Given the circumstances of his death – he died on the same day that Augusto Pinochet, the commander in chief of the Chilean army, led a CIA-approved military coup d’etat against him, and the ‘official version’ is that of Pinochet, after all.

He was the President from 1970 to 1973, and although seen in the US as a Soviet puppet, was generally treated poorly by them. A lack of expected Soviet aid spending worsened the economic conditions in Chile, which created the conditions that led to the coup, although Allende’s economic reforms, which threatened the interests of the establishment while promoting those of the indigenous population, were also a factor.

Referenced in:
Mal Sacate — Kris Kristofferson

2000 — the S11 protests in Melbourne, Australia

In September 2000, the World Economic Forum met at the Crown Casino complex in Melbourne, Australia. Over three days, they discussed matters of great importance that would affect the lives of millions of people the world over.

Meanwhile, outside, one of the largest assemblages of protestors ever seen in Australia gathered and tried to make cogent points about the millions of lives that would be affected by the WEF’s decisions, which might not be entirely pleased by the results of them. In this goal, they were thwarted by that stalwart upholder of the privileges of the rich, the Victorian Police Force. Opportunities to harass people who upset their lords and masters don’t come along every day, after all.

Of course, unlike previous efforts by VicPol, this one was widely filmed and photographed, with many of the images captured directly contradicting the statements by the police regarding their violations of their own procedures, of the civil rights of the protestors, and oh yeah, of a little thing called The Law (you know, the thing the police swear an oath to uphold).

Referenced in:
Honk If You Love Fred Durst — This Is Serious Mum
Ten Points For A Razor Scooter — This Is Serious Mum

2001 — Ben Folds releases “Rockin’ the Suburbs”

Folds’ 2001 album “Rockin’ the Suburbs” was his first solo album since the dissolution of Ben Folds Five. It marked a progression for him to a more guitar-based sound, and despite its inauspicious release date, it remains one of his best selling albums. The title track was released as the first single from the album, and became his best selling song to date.

Just to clear up any confusion: the song “Rockin’ the Suburbs” mentions the release of a new cd, and in the clip, Folds brandishes a copy of his new album, also titled “Rockin’ the Suburbs”, which features the song of the same name. It’s all very recursive, and you’ll probably just get a headache if you think about it too much.

Referenced in:
Rockin’ The Suburbs – Ben Folds

2001 — The World Trade Centre is destroyed in a terrorist attack

It is the defining moment of the modern era. If you were old enough to remember it at the time, then you remember how you heard it, remember the image of the plane hitting the second building, remember it all.

Four separate planes were hijacked by terrorists belonging to Al Qaeda. One was brought down by the passengers when they realised what it was supposed to do. The other three were rammed into buildings – one into the Pentagon, one into each of the two towers of the World Trade Centre in New York City. Nearly 3000 people were killed in the attacks, and more died in the aftermath, killed trying to rescue others.

The reaction was one of shock, grief and anger. Within weeks, the world was plunged into war, first in Afghanistan, then in Iraq – a state from which it is yet to emerge.

Referenced in:
Self-Evident — Ani Di Franco