This Day in History

Crash of Air Inter Flight 148 (1992)
Air Inter Flight 148's trip from Lyon to Strasbourg, France, on January 20, 1992, was relatively uneventful until it came time to land. It was then that things went horribly wrong. The autopilot was mistakenly left in the wrong mode, accelerating the descent. The crew was unaware of the approaching danger because the plane was not equipped with ground proximity warning systems. All but nine of the 96 people on board were killed in the resultant crash. What else may have contributed to the crash? Discuss

The Silvertown Explosion (1917)
During World War I, a chemical factory in the highly populated area of Silvertown, England, was used to purify TNT in order to meet the urgent demand for explosive shells. Although a newer, safer plant was built elsewhere, production continued at the factory until a fire ignited 50 tons of TNT in 1917. The explosion killed 73 people, injured hundreds more, and destroyed the plant, many nearby buildings, and a gasholder—sparking an enormous fireball. To what is the low death toll attributed?

The Twenty-One Demands (1915)
Japan gained a large sphere of interest in northern China through its victories in the First Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese War, thus joining the ranks of the European imperialist powers scrambling to establish control over China. Japan used its 1914 declaration of war against Germany as grounds for invading German holdings in China. Then, ignoring the Chinese request to withdraw, Japan secretly presented the Chinese president with an ultimatum. What were some of the demands?


Jack Henry Abbott (1944)
While imprisoned in the 1970s—for various crimes, including the murder of a fellow inmate—Abbott began a correspondence with author Norman Mailer, hoping to help him write about prison life more authentically. Mailer was so impressed with Abbott's writing that he helped him compile his letters into the acclaimed book In the Belly of the Beast and advocated for Abbott's parole. However, just weeks after his release, Abbott fatally stabbed a man and was rearrested. Why had he done it? Discuss

Joy Adamson (1910)
Adamson was a Czech-born British naturalist. After moving to Kenya in 1939, she gained global fame for her books Born Free, Living Free, and Forever Free, about her experiences raising a lion cub with her husband and returning it to its natural habitat. Adamson had similar rehabilitative success with cheetah and leopard cubs, but in 1980 her body was found in Kenya's Shaba National Reserve. Her death was initially attributed to a lion attack, but she was actually killed how?

Patricia Highsmith (1921)
Highsmith started out as a comic book artist before becoming known for her chilling tales of crime and cruelty. Alfred Hitchcock propelled her career by adapting her first novel Strangers on a Train, and Highsmith gained further attention as a master of psychological menace with her books about handsome and "talented" psychopath Tom Ripley. Like many of her characters, though, Highsmith was prone to self-destructive and bizarre behavior, including keeping about 300 of what in her garden?