November 28th is marked by three significant events – the worst nightclub fire in U.S. history, the resignation of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister of Great Britain and WikiLeaks’ release of U.S. diplomatic cables.
Cocoanut Grove Fire Kills 492
A fire in Boston’s Cocoanut Grove nightclub, the city’s premier nightclub, kills 492 (more than its approved capacity) and injured hundreds more. It is the deadliest nightclub fire and second-deadliest single building fire in American history.
The scale of the tragedy shocked the nation and briefly replaced the events of World War II in newspaper headlines. It led to a reform of safety standards and codes across the US, and to major changes in the treatment and rehabilitation of burn victims internationally.
. . . In the year that followed the fire, Massachusetts and other states enacted laws for public establishments banning flammable decorations, inward-swinging exit doors, and requiring exit signs to be visible at all times (meaning that the exit signs had to have independent sources of electricity, and be easily readable in even the thickest smoke). The new laws also required that revolving doors used for egress must either be flanked by at least one normal, outward-swinging door, or retrofitted to permit the individual door leaves to fold flat to permit free-flowing traffic in a panic situation, and further required that no emergency exits be chained or bolted shut in such a way as to bar escape through the doors during a panic or emergency situation. . . . These later became the basis for several federal fire laws and code restrictions placed on nightclubs, theaters, banks, public buildings, and restaurants across the nation. It also led to the formation of several national organizations dedicated to fire safety.
Thatcher Era Ends in Britain
After tendering her resignation to Queen Elizabeth, a tearful Margaret Thatcher departed 10 Downing Street a final time as her nearly twelve year tenure as Prime Minister came to a close (the longest since 1827). Thatcher resigned after a leadership struggle within the Conservative Party, with John Major taking over as party leader and Prime Minister. Thatcher remained an Member of Parliament until 1992 and died in 2013.
WikiLeaks Releases Diplomatic Cables
WikiLeaks, the underground service that publishes leaked and confidential material founded by Julian Assange, in conjunction with El País (Spain), Der Spiegel (Germany), Le Monde (France), The Guardian (United Kingdom) and The New York Times (United States) published the first 220 of some 2,017 U.S. diplomatic cables sent between December 1966 and February 2010. The cables contained diplomatic analysis from world leaders, and the diplomats’ assessment of host countries and their officials. It was the largest set of confidential records released into the public domain at that time and became known as “Cablegate”.
This was WikiLeaks’ third major data dump that year, as it published documents from the Afghan War and the Iraq War earlier in the year.
The release sparked a criminal investigation by the Justice Department led to the isolation of WikiLeaks, as Amazon ceased hosting the site and PayPal and credit companies refused to process donations to the entity.