25 YEARS AGO
November 18, 1978 Rep. Leo J. Ryan of California is murdered in Guyana, where he has gone to investigate a religious group called the People’s Temple, most of whose members are American. At the same time, on orders from their leader, Jim Jones, more than 900 members of the group (including over 200 children) commit suicide by drinking poisoned Kool-Aid.
November 27, 1978 George Moscone, the mayor of San Francisco, and Harvey Milk, a hero to many as the city’s first openly gay supervisor, are murdered in San Francisco by Dan White, a former city councilman who, his lawyer will argue, became deranged after eating large numbers of Twinkies and other junk foods.
December 16, 1978 The city of Cleveland defaults on its debt, becoming the first major American city to do so since the Depression.
50 YEARS AGO
December 8, 1953 In a speech to the United Nations, President Dwight D. Eisenhower presents his Atoms for Peace plan, in which an international body will promote the spread of peaceful nuclear technology.
100 YEARS AGO
November 3, 1903 With U.S. Navy vessels making a show of support offshore, Panama declares its independence from Colombia. On November 6 the United States recognizes the new nation, and on November 18 the two countries sign the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty, which gives the U.S. a lease on a strip of land on which to build a canal.
December 17, 1903 At Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville and Wilbur Wright make the first powered flights in a heavierthan-air craft.
December 30, 1903 A fire at the Iroquois Theater in Chicago kills close to 600 people. The ensuing public outcry will result in the adoption of much stronger fire codes in public buildings.