Chilean miners are rescued after 69 days underground

Year
2010
Month Day
October 13

On October 13, 2010, the last of 33 miners trapped nearly half a mile underground for more than two months at a caved-in mine in northern Chile, are rescued. The miners survived longer than anyone else trapped underground in recorded history.

The miners’ ordeal began on August 5, 2010, when the San Jose gold and copper mine where they were working, some 500 miles north of the Chilean capital city of Santiago, collapsed. The 33 men moved to an underground emergency shelter area, where they discovered just several days’ worth of food rations. As their situation grew more desperate over the next 17 days, the miners, uncertain if anyone would find them, considered suicide and cannibalism. Then, on August 22, a drill sent by rescuers broke through to the area where the miners were located, and the men sent back up a note saying, “We are fine in the refuge, the 33.” Food, water, letters, medicine and other supplies were soon delivered to the miners via a narrow bore hole. Video cameras were also sent down, making it possible for rescuers to see the men and the hot, humid space in which they were entombed. As engineering and mining experts from around the world collaborated on the long, complex process of devising a way to bring the 33 men up to the surface, the miners maintained a system of jobs and routines in order to keep up morale.

Rescuers eventually drilled and reinforced an escape shaft wide enough to extract the men, one by one. (Employees of a Pennsylvania-based drilling-tool company played a role in drilling the rescue shaft.) On October 12, the first of the miners was raised to the surface in a narrow, 13-foot-tall capsule painted white, blue and red, the colors of the Chilean flag. The approximately 2,000-foot ascent to the surface in the capsule took around 15 minutes for each man.

The miners were greeted by a cheering crowd that included Chile’s president, Sebastian Pinera; media from around the world; and friends and relatives, many of whom had been camped at the base of the mine in the Atacama Desert for months. Millions of people around the globe watched the rescue on live TV. Less than 24 hours after the operation began, all 33 of the miners, who ranged in age from 19 to 63, had been safely rescued. Almost all the men were in good health, and each of them sported dark glasses to protect their eyes after being in a dimly lit space for so long.

The rescued miners were later honored with trips to a variety of destinations, including England, Israel and Florida’s Walt Disney World, where a parade was held in their honor.

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Palestinians hijack German airliner

Year
1977
Month Day
October 13

Four Palestinians hijack a Lufthansa airliner and demand the release of 11 imprisoned members of Germany’s Baader-Meinhof terrorist group, also known as the Red Army Faction. The Red Army Faction was a group of ultra-left revolutionaries who terrorized Germany for three decades, assassinating more than 30 corporate, military, and government leaders in an effort to topple capitalism in their homeland.

The Palestinian hijackers took the plane on a six-country odyssey, eventually landing at Mogadishu, Somalia, on October 17, after shooting one of the plane’s pilots. Early the next morning, a German special forces team stormed the aircraft, releasing 86 hostages and killing three of the four hijackers. Only one of the German commandos was wounded. The Red Army Faction’s imprisoned leaders responded to the news later that day by committing suicide in their jail cell, in Stammheim, Germany.

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Singer Charlie Rich protests John Denver’s big win at the CMA Awards

Year
1975
Month Day
October 13

In a 35-year career that ran from the rockabilly genius of “Lonely Weekends” (1960) to the Countrypolitan splendor of “Behind Closed Doors” (1973), the versatile and soulful Charlie Rich earned eleven #1 hits on the Country charts and one crossover smash with the #1 pop hit “The Most Beautiful Girl” (1973). The man they called the Silver Fox displayed a natural talent for pleasing many different audiences, but his non-singing performance before one particular audience in 1975 did significant damage to the remainder of his career. 

On October 13, 1975, the man voted Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association of America one year earlier stood onstage at the CMA awards show to announce that year’s winner of the Association’s biggest award. But a funny thing happened when he opened the envelope and saw what was written inside. Instead of merely reading the name “John Denver” and stepping back from the podium, Charlie Rich reached into his pocket for a cigarette lighter and set the envelope on fire, right there onstage. Though the display shocked the live audience in attendance, John Denver himself was present only via satellite linkup, and he offered a gracious acceptance speech with no idea what had occurred.

In the aftermath of the incident, Charlie Rich was blacklisted from the CMA awards show for the rest of his career. But what point was he trying to make, exactly? It was widely assumed at the time that Rich was taking a stand on the side of country traditionalists upset at a notable incursion of pop dabblers into country music at the time (Olivia Newton-John, for instance, had won the Most Promising Female Vocalist award in 1973). But Rich himself was often accused of being “not country enough,” so that may not have been his intent. While it made better newspaper copy to suggest that he specifically resented John Denver’s win, Rich was also, by his own admission, on a combination of prescription pain medication and gin-and-tonics that night.

As his son, Charlie Rich, Jr., has written of the incident, “He used bad judgment. He was human after all. I know the last thing my father would have wanted to do was set himself up as judge of another musician.”

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Sir Isaac Brock saves Canada from US invasion

Year
1812
Month Day
October 13

During the War of 1812, British and Indian forces under Sir Isaac Brock defeat Americans under General Stephen Van Rensselaer at the Battle of Queenstown Heights, on the Niagara frontier in Ontario, Canada. The British victory, in which more than 1,000 U.S. troops were killed, wounded, or captured, effectively ended any further U.S. invasion of Canada. Sir Isaac Brock, Britain’s most talented general in the war, was killed during the battle.

READ MORE: 7 Times the U.S.-Canada Border Wasn’t So Peaceful 

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White House cornerstone laid

Year
1792
Month Day
October 13

The cornerstone is laid for a presidential residence in the newly designated capital city of Washington, D.C. In 1800, President John Adams became the first president to reside in the executive mansion, which soon became known as the “White House” because its white-gray Virginia freestone contrasted strikingly with the red brick of nearby buildings.

The city of Washington was created to replace Philadelphia as the nation’s capital because of its geographical position in the center of the existing new republic. The states of Maryland and Virginia ceded land around the Potomac River to form the District of Columbia, and work began on Washington in 1791. French architect Charles L’Enfant designed the area’s radical layout, full of dozens of circles, crisscross avenues, and plentiful parks. In 1792, work began on the neoclassical White House building at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue under the guidance of Irish American architect James Hoban, whose design was influenced by Leinster House in Dublin and by a building sketch in James Gibbs’ Book of Architecture. President George Washington chose the site.

On November 1, President John Adams was welcomed into the executive mansion. His wife, Abigail, wrote about their new home: “I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house, and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but wise men ever rule under this roof!”

In 1814, during the War of 1812, the White House was set on fire along with the U.S. Capitol by British soldiers in retaliation for the burning of government buildings in Canada by U.S. troops. The burned-out building was subsequently rebuilt and enlarged under the direction of James Hoban, who added east and west terraces to the main building, along with a semicircular south portico and a colonnaded north portico. The smoke-stained stone walls were painted white. Work was completed on the White House in the 1820s.

Major restoration occurred during the administration of President Harry Truman, and Truman lived across the street for several years in Blair House. Since 1995, Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and Lafayette Square has been closed to vehicular traffic for security reasons. Today, more than a million tourists visit the White House annually. It is the oldest federal building in the nation’s capital.

READ MORE: White House: Architect, Facts & Layout

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American Basketball Association debuts

Year
1967
Month Day
October 13

On October 13, 1967, the Anaheim Amigos lose to the Oakland Oaks, 134-129, in the inaugural game of the American Basketball Association. In its first season, the ABA included 11 teams: the Pittsburgh Pipers, Minnesota Muskies, Indiana Pacers, Kentucky Colonels and New Jersey Americans played in the Eastern Division, and the New Orleans Buccaneers, Dallas Chaparrals, Denver Rockets, Houston Mavericks, Anaheim Amigos and Oakland Oaks played in the Western. Until it folded in 1976, the league offered players and fans a freewheeling alternative to the stodgy NBA. “It was a looser atmosphere,” one fan remembered. “We could do a lot of things [the NBA] won’t let us do”; these days, basketball games are “supposed to be family entertainment.”

The ABA was a much flashier league than the NBA. In place of the traditional orange basketball it used a garish red, white and blue ball that, Celtics coach Red Auerbach frequently said, belonged on the nose of a circus seal. Its cheerleaders wore bikinis. Trash-talking and fights on the court were the norm. And the league had its own rules: It had a 30-second shot clock instead of the NBA’s 24-second timer, and it introduced the three-point shot, which the NBA scorned at first but then adopted. Its players had nicknames like Bad News, Jelly, Magnolia Mouth and Mr. Excitement; two of its coaches were affectionately known as Slick and Babe. ABA teams played playground basketball: showy and pure, with lots of running. (By contrast, one player recalled, “the NBA was kind of like a half-court game. The only team that ran was the Boston Celtics.”)

Even though the NBA did its best to dismiss its rivals as a bunch of no-talent upstarts, the ABA’s best players were hard to ignore. David Thompson and Connie Hawkins got their start in the ABA, and of course, so did Julius “Dr. J” Erving. But the league didn’t have a national television contract and many of its teams had trouble selling enough tickets to stay afloat. By 1976, the league was down to just nine teams: the Pacers, the Colonels, the New York Nets, the Denver Nuggets, the Spirits of St. Louis, the Virginia Squires, the San Antonio Spurs, the San Diego Sail, and the Utah Stars. The Sails and the Stars folded before the season was over; a 10th team, the Baltimore Claws, ran out of money before it even began. That year’s All-Star game featured the world’s first slam-dunk contest, probably the most influential ABA event of them all. Dr. J won easily, taking off at the free-throw line and sailing through the air to the basket.

As the ABA was practically insolvent by the end of that season, it made the decision to merge with the NBA. Four ABA teams remained intact: the Americans (who later became the New Jersey Nets), the Spurs, the Nuggets and the Pacers. The others disintegrated, their players absorbed into other teams as free agents.

In 2003, for the first time, two ABA teams competed in the NBA finals. The Spurs defeated the Nets in six games.

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Grand jury dismissed in JonBenét Ramsey murder case

Year
1999
Month Day
October 13

The Colorado grand jury investigating the case of child beauty queen JonBenét Ramsey, who was murdered in December 1996 is dismissed and the Boulder County district attorney announces no indictments will be made due to insufficient evidence.

On the morning of December 26, 1996, Patsy Ramsey discovered her 6-year-old daughter was missing after finding a ransom note in the family’s Boulder home. Patsy, a former Miss West Virginia, and her husband John, a wealthy business executive, called police and JonBenét’s body was discovered in the basement later that day. The coroner determined the girl had died of asphyxia strangulation and an autopsy later revealed she had been bound and struck violently in the head, causing bleeding and an 8.5-inch fracture to her skull.

Police questioned various people, including a man who had played Santa Claus at the Ramsey home several days before the murder; however, John and Patsy Ramsey eventually emerged as the primary suspects in the case. After being formally interviewed by investigators on April 30, 1997, the couple held a news conference the next day proclaiming their innocence. They believed the murder was committed by an intruder. The case generated an enormous media frenzy but no arrests and the Boulder police and prosecutors received criticism for their handling of the investigation. In September 1998, a grand jury was convened to investigate the murder. The following year, on October 13, 1999, Boulder County District Attorney Alex Hunter announced that the grand jury had been dismissed and no indictments would be made due to lack of evidence.

John and Patsy Ramsey continued to face intense public scrutiny. In March 2000, the couple released a book about the case titled The Death of Innocence. On June 24, 2006, Patsy Ramsey died of ovarian cancer at age 49. In August of that year, U.S. law enforcement officials in Thailand arrested 41-year-old John Mark Karr, an American schoolteacher, in connection with child pornography charges in California. Karr stated he was with JonBenét Ramsey when she was killed but her death had been an accident. He was charged with murder, kidnapping and sexual assault on a child. However, on August 28, 2006, all charges against Karr were dropped after DNA tests failed to link him to the crime. To date, the murder of JonBenét Ramsey remains unsolved.

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Atomic Age sci-fi thriller “The Amazing Colossal Man” opens

Year
1957
Month Day
October 13

Movie audiences in America are treated to the science-fiction thriller, The Amazing Colossal Man. The film revolves around a character named Colonel Manning, who strays too close to the test of an atomic device in the Nevada desert and is bombarded with “plutonium rays.”

This was but one of many such movies released in the 1950s, which cannot be dismissed as merely amusing artifacts from that decade. While these weapons were the backbone of the nation’s defense system, many in the United States were uncertain about the atomic and hydrogen bombs: Were they too inhumane; what were the repercussions of radioactivity; could they ever really be used without sealing the fate of all humankind? Hollywood registered these concerns and played upon them. In Them! (1954), ants exposed to radiation grow to enormous size and threaten humanity; The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), tells the tale of a dinosaur, thawed out by an atomic test in the Arctic, that ravages New York City; and, in one of the best of this class of film, a man survives being caught in a nuclear test, only to find himself shrinking away to nothing in The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957). The Cold War, and the issues it raised among the American people, had become part of the nation’s popular culture.

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Continental Congress authorizes first naval force

Year
1775
Month Day
October 13

On October 13, 1775, the Continental Congress authorizes construction and administration of the first American naval force—the precursor to the United States Navy.

Since the outbreak of open hostilities with the British in April, little consideration had been given to protection by sea until Congress received news that a British naval fleet was on its way. In November, the Continental Navy was formally organized, and on December 22, Esek Hopkins was appointed the first commander in chief of the Continental Navy. Congress also named four captains to the new service: Dudley Saltonstall, Abraham Whipple, Nicholas Biddle and John Burroughs Hopkins. Their respective vessels, the 24-gun frigates Alfred and Columbus, the 14-gun brigs Andrew Doria and Cabot, as well as three schooners, the Hornet, the Wasp and the Fly, became the first ships of the Navy’s fleet. Five first lieutenants, including future American hero John Paul Jones, five second lieutenants and three third lieutenants also received their commissions.

READ MORE: How a Rogue Navy of Private Ships Helped Win the American Revolution

Admiral Hopkins, as he was dubbed by George Washington, was first tasked with assessing the feasibility of an attack on British naval forces in the Chesapeake Bay. After sailing south with his meager force of eight ships, Hopkins decided that victory in such an encounter was impossible. He sailed to the Bahamas instead, where he attacked the British port of Nassau, a decision for which he was relieved of his command upon returning to the continent.

During the American Revolution, the Continental Navy successfully preyed on British merchant shipping and won several victories over British warships. This first naval force was disbanded after the war. What is now known as the United States Navy was formally established with the creation of the federal Department of the Navy in April 1798.

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Italy declares war on Germany

Year
1943
Month Day
October 13

On October 13, 1943, the government of Italy declares war on its former Axis partner Germany and joins the battle on the side of the Allies.

With Mussolini deposed from power and the collapse of the fascist government in July, Gen. Pietro Badoglio, Mussolini’s former chief of staff and the man who had assumed power in the Duce’s stead by request of King Victor Emanuel, began negotiating with General Eisenhower regarding a conditional surrender of Italy to the Allies. It became a fact on September 8, with the new Italian government allowing the Allies to land in Salerno, in southern Italy, in its quest to beat the Germans back up the peninsula.

The Germans too snapped into action. Ever since Mussolini began to falter, Hitler had been making plans to invade Italy to keep the Allies from gaining a foothold that would situate them within easy reach of the German-occupied Balkans. On the day of Italy’s surrender, Hitler launched Operation Axis, the occupation of Italy. As German troops entered Rome, General Badoglio and the royal family fled to Brindisi, in southeastern Italy, to set up a new antifascist government.

On October 13, Badoglio set into motion the next stage of his agreement with Eisenhower, the full cooperation of Italian troops in the Allied operation to capture Rome from the Germans. It was extremely slow going, described by one British general as “slogging up Italy.” Bad weather, the miscalculation of starting the operation from so far south in the peninsula, and the practice of “consolidation,” establishing a firm base of operations and conjoining divisions every time a new region was captured, made the race for Rome more of a crawl. But when it was over, and Rome was once again free, General Badoglio would take yet one more step in freeing Italy from its fascist past-he would step down from office.

READ MORE: V-E Day Around the World

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