7 October 1996

Fox News Channel start broadcasting.

The channel was created by Australian-born American media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who hired Roger Ailes as its founding CEO. The channel was launched on October 7, 1996 to 17 million cable subscribers. Prior to founding Fox News, Murdoch had gained significant experience in the 24-hour news business when News Corporation’s BSkyB subsidiary started Europe’s first 24-hour news channel, Sky News, in the United Kingdom in 1989. With the success of his fourth network efforts in the United States, experience gained from Sky News, and turnaround of 20th Century Fox, Murdoch announced on January 31, 1996, that his company would be launching a 24-hour news channel to air on both cable and satellite systems as part of a News Corp. “worldwide platform” for Fox programming, reasoning that “The appetite for news – particularly news that explains to people how it affects them – is expanding enormously.”

Exterior of the Fox News Channel studios in New York City
In February 1996, after former NBC executive and Republican political strategist Roger Ailes left America’s Talking now MSNBC, Murdoch called him to start the Fox News Channel. Ailes worked individuals through five months of 14-hour workdays and several weeks of rehearsal shows before launch, on October 7, 1996.

At launch, only 10 million households were able to watch Fox News, with none in the major media markets of New York City and Los Angeles. According to published reports, many media reviewers had to watch the first day’s programming at Fox News’ studios because it was not readily available. The rolling news coverage during the day consisted of 20-minute single topic shows like Fox on Crime or Fox on Politics surrounded by news headlines. Interviews had various facts at the bottom of the screen about the topic or the guest.

In the 2000 presidential election, Fox News, which was available in 56 million homes nationwide, saw a staggering 440% increase in viewers, the biggest gain among the three cable news television networks.

18 March 1996

A nightclub fire in Quezon City, Philippines kills 162 people.

The Ozone Disco Club fire in Quezon City, Philippines broke out shortly before midnight at 11:35 pm Philippine Standard Time, March 18, 1996 leaving at least 162 people dead. It is officially acknowledged as the worst fire in Philippine history, and among the 10 worst nightclub fires in the world.

Ozone Disco, located near the 11th World Scout Jamboree Memorial Rotonda along Timog Avenue in Quezon City, was opened in 1991 by Segio Orgaoow. Its building had previously housed a jazz club named “Birdland”. The disco was operated by Westwood Entertainment Company, Inc.

Incident
The fire broke out just before midnight on March 18, 1996. At the time of the fire, it was estimated that there were around 350 patrons and 40 club employees inside Ozone Disco, though it had been approved for occupancy for only 35 persons. Most of the club guests were high school and college students attending graduation or end-of-the-school-year celebrations. Survivors reported seeing sparks flying inside the disc jockey’s booth shortly before midnight, followed by smoke which they thought was part of the party plan of the DJ. Another survivor added that after about 15 seconds of smoke, the electrical systems of the disco shut down, followed by the flames.

Many of the bodies were discovered along the corridor leading to the only exit, piled up waist-high. Quezon City officials were quoted as saying that the club’s emergency exit was blocked by a new building next door, and that there was no proper fire exit installed. It was also reported that the exit had been locked from the outside by the club’s security guards, who had thought that a riot had taken place.

A 2008 photograph of the Ozone Disco building in Timog Avenue, Quezon City. The structure remained standing until 2015; it was never restored for commercial use and remained undisturbed until its demolition in March 2015.
Casualties
The final death count was reported as between 160 and 162 people, the latter being the figure cited by the trial court that heard the ensuing criminal case. The death toll was one of the worst ever for a nightclub fire, though it was subsequently surpassed by the República Cromañón nightclub fire. In addition, at least 95 people were injured.

Investigation and aftermath
Six people involved with Westwood Entertainment were tried before the courts for criminal charges of “reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and multiple serious injuries”. On March 16, 2001, the president of Westwood Entertainment, Hermilo Ocampo, and the corporation’s treasurer, Ramon Ng, were found guilty by a Quezon City trial court and sentenced to a four-year prison term, and fined 25 million pesos each. They and their co-accused were also ordered to indemnify the families of the deceased 150,000 pesos, and 100,000 pesos to the injured. The trial court concluded that Ocampo and Ng failed to provide fire exits and sprinklers inside the establishment, that the fire extinguishers they placed were defective, and that the lone exit was through a small door that swung inward and did not meet the standard set by the building code. A former employee who was among the survivors of the fire has claimed that the inward swinging doors were installed because it was good feng shui.

In November 2001, twelve officials of the Quezon City government were charged before the Sandiganbayan for reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicides and multiple serious injuries. They were accused of allowing Ozone Disco to secure a certificate of annual inspection in 1995 “despite the inadequacy, insufficiency and impropriety of the documents submitted by the owners.” In 2007, one of the twelve — the former city engineer and building official of Quezon City, Alfredo Macapugay — was discharged from criminal and civil liability after the Sandiganbayan concluded that he had no hand in the issuance of the necessary permits to Ozone Disco management.

As of 2008, the structure which housed the Ozone Disco remained standing in Timog Avenue, Quezon City, though the site has not been commercially used since then. For a few years after the incident there was a makeshift memorial on the site featuring photographs of the victims. This has since been dismantled, and no marker or official memorial commemorates the incident or its victims.

On November 20, 2014, seven officials of the Quezon City government were found guilty under the Philippines’ anti-graft and corrupt practices law by the country’s anti-graft court Sandiganbayan. They were held liable for negligence in connection with the approval of the building permit and issuance of certificates of occupancy for the company which owned Ozone. The club’s owners were also found to be liable as well.

In March 2015, a week before the 19th anniversary of the tragedy, the Ozone Disco building was demolished, residents near the area said. Relatives of the victims still visit the site. As of October 2016, the former location of the Ozone Disco Club is now currently occupied by a branch of known food chain GoodAh!!!, co-owned by television host Boy Abunda.

In media
The October 2, 2008 episode of the GMA Network public affairs show Case Unclosed featured the Ozone Disco fire and its aftermath. The episode was directed by Adolfo Alix, Jr. 2 days before the showing of this episode, September 30, 2008, Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. released an ordinance that warns the owners of entertainment establishments to use swing-in/swing-out doors.

The incident was featured in fantasy-horror TV show named “Lihim ng Gabi” in December 1996.

10 February 1996

The IBM supercomputer, Deep Blue, defeats Garry Kasparov in chess.

Deep Blue and Kasparov played each other on two occasions. The first match began on 10 February 1996, in which Deep Blue became the first machine to win a chess game against a reigning world champion under regular time controls. However, Kasparov won three and drew two of the following five games, beating Deep Blue by a score of 4–2. The match concluded on 17 February 1996.

Deep Blue was then heavily upgraded and played Kasparov again in May 1997, winning the six-game rematch 3½–2½, ending on 11 May. Deep Blue won the deciding game six after Kasparov made a mistake in the opening, becoming the first computer system to defeat a reigning world champion in a match under standard chess tournament time controls.

The system derived its playing strength mainly from brute force computing power. It was a massively parallel, RS/6000 SP Thin P2SC-based system with 30 nodes, with each node containing a 120 MHz P2SC microprocessor, enhanced with 480 special purpose VLSI chess chips. Its chess playing program was written in C and ran under the AIX operating system. It was capable of evaluating 200 million positions per second, twice as fast as the 1996 version. In June 1997, Deep Blue was the 259th most powerful supercomputer according to the TOP500 list, achieving 11.38 GFLOPS on the High-Performance LINPACK benchmark.

The Deep Blue chess computer that defeated Kasparov in 1997 would typically search to a depth of between six and eight moves to a maximum of twenty or even more moves in some situations. David Levy and Monty Newborn estimate that one additional ply increases the playing strength 50 to 70 Elo points.

Deep Blue’s evaluation function was initially written in a generalized form, with many to-be-determined parameters. The optimal values for these parameters were then determined by the system itself, by analyzing thousands of master games. The evaluation function had been split into 8,000 parts, many of them designed for special positions. In the opening book there were over 4,000 positions and 700,000 grandmaster games. The endgame database contained many six piece endgames and five or fewer piece positions. Before the second match, the chess knowledge of the program was fine tuned by grandmaster Joel Benjamin. The opening library was provided by grandmasters Miguel Illescas, John Fedorowicz, and Nick de Firmian. When Kasparov requested that he be allowed to study other games that Deep Blue had played so as to better understand his opponent, IBM refused. However, Kasparov did study many popular PC games to become familiar with computer game play in general.

Writer Nate Silver suggests that a bug in Deep Blue’s software led to a seemingly random move which Kasparov misattributed to “superior intelligence”. Subsequently, Kasparov experienced a drop in performance due to anxiety in the following game.

27 January 1996

Germany first observes the ‘International Holocaust Remembrance Day’.

On the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on Jan. 27, 1995, many in Germany used the occasion to remember the horrors of the Holocaust. But the day itself had no official name or sanction. That changed the following year—exactly 20 years ago Wednesday—when Germany became the first European country to declare the date as an official day of remembrance for the victims of Naziism.

In her book History, Memory, and Trans-European Identity, Aline Sierp suggests that the timing of Germany’s decision to make the day official was linked to its recent reunification. With the Cold War still fresh, the newly joined East and West aimed to show the world that it was a modern nation willing to reckon with its dark history under both Naziism and Communism. Sierp notes that it’s unusual for a nation to establish an official day of remembrance for a negative part of its history, but then-President Roman Herzog said, in proclaiming the observance, that the day “must continue to remind future generations to be vigilante” and to “find a form of memory that reaches towards the future.”