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Today in history: The Vegas MGM Grand fire killed 87 – Calgary Herald

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On this date, Nov. 31, in history:

In 1766, the first theatre in the U.S. — the Southfork — opened in Philadelphia.
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In 1783, the first free flight was made by two men who rose 100 metres above Paris in a hot-air balloon.

In 1784, Thomas Carleton, New Brunswick’s first governor, arrived at Parrton (now Saint John) to proclaim the new province.

In 1877, Thomas Edison announced he invented a “talking machine” — something that became known as the phonograph.

In 1902, hockey broadcaster Foster Hewitt was born in Toronto. Hewitt, who coined the phrase, “He shoots, he scores,” called the first game from Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens when it opened in 1931. Hewitt died in 1985.

In 1907, American journalist Jim Bishop was born. He gave new life to great historical moments through his “day” books, including his 1957 chronicle of The Day Christ Died. He died July 26, 1987.

In 1916, 40 people died when the Royal Navy hospital ship HMS Brittanic was torpedoed in the Aegean Sea. Like its sister ship, the Titanic, it never saw New York.

In 1922, Rebecca L. Felton of Georgia was sworn in as the first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate.

In 1927, picketing strikers at the Columbine Mine in northern Colorado were fired on by state police. Six miners were killed.

In 1942, the Alaska Highway across northern Canada was formally opened.

In 1950, a troop train collided with a CNR passenger train at Canoe Lake, B.C., killing 21 people and injuring 53. A transport board inquiry found the accident had been caused by conflicting orders delivered to the conductors of the trains.

In 1954, the Canadian icebreaker HMCS Labrador completed a 29,000-kilometre trip around the continent via the Northwest Passage and the Panama Canal. It was the largest vessel to have circled North America, and the first to traverse the Northwest Passage from east to west within a year. The Arctic patrol ship travelled from Halifax to Esquimalt, B.C., via the Northwest Passage, and back to Halifax via the Panama Canal.

In 1959, Alan Freed, at the time the top disc jockey in the U.S., was fired by New York station WABC after he refused to sign an affidavit that he had participated in bribes. Freed was the prime target in the payola investigations launched by the U.S. Congress. He was blackballed by the radio industry after the WABC firing, and by the time he pleaded guilty to two counts of commercial bribery, taking money from record promoters, in December 1962, he was a broken man. Freed never worked again, and died of uremia in January 1965.

In 1967, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Air Quality Act.

In 1979, Pierre Trudeau resigned as Liberal leader. He postponed his retirement, however, when Joe Clark’s minority Tory government was defeated on Dec. 13 on a non-confidence motion against its first budget, tabled by Finance Minister John Crosbie, forcing an election. Trudeau returned five days later, on Dec. 18, and led the Liberals to a majority government in the Feb. 18 election. Clark’s term as prime minister lasted just nine months.

In 1980, fire in the 26-floor MGM Grand hotel casino in Las Vegas killed 87 people and injured over 700. Improper ventilation and several safety code violations were blamed for the disaster.

In 1981, an estimated 100,000 people gathered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to protest high interest rates. The demonstration, initiated by Canadian Labour Congress president Dennis McDermott, was the largest demonstration ever held on Parliament Hill.

In 1983, in the N.W.T. election, native politicians won a majority of seats on the 24-member Territorial Council, the N.W.T. legislative body.

In 1986, five senior officials of the Manitoba Telephone System resigned or were dismissed over the failure of the telecommunications venture that may have cost Manitoba taxpayers $25 million in losses.

In 1986, veteran U.S. stuntman Dar Robinson, who jumped successfully twice from the CN Tower in Toronto, died in a motorcycle accident during the filming of a movie in Page, Ariz.

In 1988, the Tories under Brian Mulroney defeated the Liberals under John Turner and Ed Broadbent’s NDP in a federal election. The key issue was the Conservatives’ free-trade agreement with the United States.

In 1989, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev signed a joint declaration saying that both countries respect the rights of Europeans to pursue paths of political and economic change without outside interference. But they also agreed that political reforms should not lead to instability and that NATO and the Warsaw Pact should remain as military alliances for the foreseeable future.

In 1989, the proceedings of Britain’s House of Commons were televised live for the first time.

In 1990, American junk bond king Michael Milken was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He had been accused in the insider-trading scandal that came to symbolize a decade of excess on Wall Street. Milken pleaded guilty to lesser charges of violating U.S. securities and tax laws and served 22 months.

In 1991, the UN Security Council chose Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt to be the new Secretary-General. He was the first African and first Arab to hold the post.

In 1991, French adventurer Gerald d’Aboville became the first man to row across the Pacific from west-to-east. He needed 134 days to make the 10,000-kilometre crossing from Choshi, Japan to Ilwaco, Wash.

In 1995, leaders of Bosnia’s three warring factions, Muslims, Serbs and Croats, accepted a U.S.-brokered peace plan designed to end 43 months of bloody fighting in Bosnia. The warring factions agreed to maintain Bosnia’s current boundaries but with control divided between a Serbian state and one controlled by a Croat-Muslim federation. Under the deal, people charged with war crimes would be barred from political office.

In 1995, Lucien Bouchard announced he would resign as leader of the federal Bloc Quebecois to become leader of the provincial Parti Quebecois and Quebec premier.

In 1995, Bruno Gerussi, the actor who starred in the long-running CBC series “The Beachcombers,” died in Vancouver at the age of 67.

In 1996, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled governments aren’t constitutionally obliged to fund religious schools. It ruled the funding of Catholic schools in Ontario was a separate matter because it was guaranteed at Confederation.

In 1996, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the most expensive in Canadian history at $51.2 million, released its report after five years of studying almost every facet of aboriginal life. It said Canada must give its aboriginal people a sweeping new deal, including new lands, resources, respect and real self-government or face risk of violence.

In 2002, in a 9-0 majority decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Canada’s spy agency, CSIS, can withhold information in its files about citizens in the name of national security.

In 2002, Princess Anne became the first member of the Royal Family in modern times to be convicted of a criminal offence. She pleaded guilty to allowing her English bull terrier to run loose and attack two children. She was fined the equivalent of C$1,240 and ordered to pay C$620 in compensation for violating the Dangerous Dogs Act.

In 2002, NATO leaders formally invited seven former communist countries to join the alliance at the NATO summit in Prague, Czech Republic. The Baltic nations of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania joined former communist states Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia as the next wave of countries invited to become members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

In 2005, General Motors announced plans to cut 30,000 jobs in North America, closing nine assembly plants including two in Oshawa and St. Catharines, Ont., that employed 3,900 people.

In 2006, Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, of New Westminster, B.C., was named American League MVP.

In 2009, an explosion in a coal mine in northern China killed at least 87 people.

In 2017, Royal Bank of Canada became the first Canadian lender to be added to the international Financial Stability Board’s list of global systemically important banks, which are deemed too big to fail.

In 2017, CBS News and PBS announced they were terminating their relationship with Charlie Rose after several women accused him of sexual misconduct.

In 2017, David Cassidy, the teen and pre-teen idol who starred in the 1970s sitcom The Partridge Family and sold millions of records as the musical group’s lead singer, died at age 67. Cassidy, who announced earlier in the year that he had been diagnosed with dementia, was admitted to a Florida hospital days earlier due to organ failure.

In 2017, Ride-hailing service Uber came clean about its coverup of a year-old security breach that saw hackers steal the personal information of 57 million customers around the world. Uber acknowledged paying the hackers $100,000 to destroy the stolen information. It did not say how many Canadians were affected.

In 2018, Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s fall fiscal update included new measures to boost investment in Canada that would cost $17.1 billion over five years. The measures were in response to the U.S. move in January to cut its corporate tax rate to 21 per cent from 35 per cent.

In 2018, curler Ryan Fry announced he would be taking an indefinite leave from Team Brad Jacobs to focus on his “growth and self-improvement.” The move came after Fry, who played at the World Curling Tour event as a substitute, was disqualified at the Red Deer Curling Classic along with teammates Jamie Koe, Chris Schille and DJ Kidby for what organizers called unsportsmanlike behaviour resulting from excessive drinking. All four players later issued statements apologizing for their actions.

In 2018, the Ontario government passed sweeping labour reform legislation, effectively rolling back many changes brought in by the previous Liberal regime. Among other things, the law froze the province’s minimum wage at $14 an hour until 2020 and eliminated two paid personal leave days a year for workers.

In 2018, Interpol elected South Korean delegate Kim Jong Yang as the organization’s president, edging out a veteran of Russia’s security services who was strongly opposed by the United States, Britain and other European nations.

In 2019, Israel’s attorney general formally charged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a series of corruption cases, throwing the country’s paralyzed political system into further disarray and threatening the long-time leader’s grip on power. Capping a three-year investigation, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit charged Netanyahu with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three different scandals. Netanyahu rejected his indictment — saying the country was witnessing an “attempted coup” against him.

In 2019, there was riveting testimony from a former national security official on the last day of the impeachment hearings in Washington. Fiona Hill testified that a U-S ambassador clearly carried out a “domestic political errand” for President Donald Trump on Ukraine, undercutting a main line of the president’s defence in the impeachment inquiry. Fiona Hill told House investigators she came to realize Ambassador Gordon Sondland wasn’t just operating outside official diplomatic channels, as some assumed, but was carrying out instructions from Trump. She ended the exchange by saying “And here we are.”

In 2020, Canada and Britain announced a new trade deal, beating the Dec. 31 Brexit deadline that would have triggered new tariffs on a range of Canadian exports. Britain is Canada’s fifth largest trading partner, with $29 billion in two-way merchandise trade in 2019.

In 2021, the International Olympic Committee said missing Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai told Olympic officials in a video call from Beijing that she was safe and well. The 30-minute call came amid growing global alarm over Peng after she accused a former leading Communist party official of sexual assault. It appeared to be Peng’s first direct contact with sports officials outside China since she disappeared from public view on Nov. 2.

In 2021, two of 17 abducted members of a missionary group were freed in Haiti and were safe, “in good spirits and being cared for,” their Ohio-based church organization said. Christian Aid Ministries missionaries were kidnapped by the 400 Mawozo gang on Oct. 16.

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A nurse practitioner in Three Hills has been charged with sexual assault in relation to his medical duties.
On this date, Nov. 18, in history:
Two former patients say they’re now picking up the pieces and looking for new family doctors at a time when few are taking patients
When Trudeau and his ministers appear before the commission this week, they will have to explain why they felt their judgment was better
On this date, Nov. 16, in history:
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