27 July 1996

In Atlanta, United States, a pipe bomb explodes at Centennial Olympic Park during the 1996 Summer Olympics.

Centennial Olympic Park bombing

Centennial Olympic Park Bombing
Part of Terrorism in the United States
OlympicParkBombing ShrapnelMark.jpg
Bomb fragment mark on Olympic Park sculpture
LocationAtlanta, Georgia, United States
Coordinates33°45′38″N 84°23′33″W / 33.76065°N 84.392583°W / 33.76065; -84.392583Coordinates: 33°45′38″N 84°23′33″W / 33.76065°N 84.392583°W / 33.76065; -84.392583
DateJuly 27, 1996
1:20 am (UTC-4)
TargetCentennial Olympic Park
Attack type
Bombing
WeaponsPipe bomb
Deaths1 + 1 indirect fatality
Injuries
111
PerpetratorsEric Rudolph
Army of God
MotiveAnti-abortion, Anti-socialist

The Centennial Olympic Park bombing was a domestic terrorist pipe bombing attack on the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia, on July 27 during the 1996 Summer Olympics. The blast directly killed 1 person and injured 111 others; another person later died of a heart attack. It was the first of four bombings committed by Eric Rudolph.[1] Security guard Richard Jewell discovered the bomb before detonation and cleared most of the spectators out of the park. Rudolph, a carpenter and handyman, had detonated three pipe bombs inside a U.S. military ALICE Pack.

After the bombings, Jewell was temporarily investigated as a suspect by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the news media falsely focused on him aggressively as the presumed culprit. However, in October 1996, Jewell was exonerated when the FBI declared that he was no longer a person of interest. Following three more bombings in 1997, Rudolph was identified by the FBI as the suspect. In 2003, Rudolph was arrested and tried before being convicted two years later. Rudolph was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for his crimes.

Bombing

Centennial Olympic Park was designed as the "town square" of the Olympics, and thousands of spectators had gathered for a late concert by the band Jack Mack and the Heart Attack. Sometime after midnight, Rudolph planted a green U.S. military ALICE pack (field pack) containing three pipe bombs surrounded by three-inch-long (7.6 cm) masonry nails, which caused most of the human injuries, underneath a bench near the base of a concert sound tower.[2] He then left the area.

The pack had a directed charge and could have done more damage but it was slightly moved at some point.[3] It used a steel plate as a directional device.[4] Investigators would later tie the Sandy Springs and Otherside bombs together with this first device because all were propelled by nitroglycerin dynamite, used an alarm clock and Rubbermaid containers, and contained steel plates.[5]

FBI Agent David (Woody) Johnson received notice that a call to 911 was placed about 18 minutes before the bomb detonated warning that a bomb would go off at the park within 30 minutes by "a white male with an indistinguishable American accent".[6]

Security guard Richard Jewell discovered the bag underneath a bench and alerted Georgia Bureau of Investigation officers.[7] Tom Davis of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, called in a bomb ordnance squad which included members of the ATF and FBI to investigate the suspicious bag, that was leaning against the 40-ft NBC sound tower.[6] Jewell and other security guards began clearing the immediate area so that a bomb squad could investigate the suspicious package. The bomb detonated two to three minutes into the evacuation, before all spectators could leave the area.[6]

Video of the explosion from a short distance away was captured by Robert Gee, a tourist from California, and later aired by CNN.[8] The sound of the explosion was also recorded by a news crew from the German public television network ARD, who were interviewing American swimmer Janet Evans at a nearby hotel.[9][10]

Victims

Alice Hawthorne, 44, of Albany, Georgia, was killed in the explosion when a nail from the bomb penetrated her skull.[7] A Turkish cameraman of Turkish Radio and Television Corporation, Melih Uzunyol, 40, had a fatal heart attack while running to the scene.[11] The bomb wounded 111 others.

Reaction

As the park reopened following the bombing.

President Bill Clinton denounced the explosion as an "evil act of terror" and vowed to do everything possible to track down and punish those responsible.[12]

Despite the event, officials and athletes agreed that the games should continue as planned.

Aftermath

Richard Jewell falsely implicated

Though Richard Jewell was hailed as a hero for his role in discovering the bomb and moving spectators to safety, news organizations later reported that Jewell was considered a potential suspect in the bombing, four days afterward, and shortly after a brief, mistaken detainment of two juvenile persons of interest at the Kensington MARTA station. Jewell, at the time, was unknown to authorities, and a lone wolf profile made sense to FBI investigators after being contacted by his former employer at Piedmont College.

Jewell was named as a person of interest, although he was never arrested. Jewell's home was searched and his background exhaustively investigated and he became the subject of intense media interest and surveillance, including a media siege of his home.[3]

After Jewell was exonerated, he initiated defamation lawsuits against NBC News, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and other media entities, and insisted on a formal apology from them. Jewell's lawsuit accused Piedmont College President Raymond Cleere of falsely describing Jewell as a "badge-wearing zealot" who "would write epic police reports for minor infractions".[13] The cases were later settled after 15 years of litigation with the Georgia Court of Appeals decision in July 2012, that the newspapers accurately reported that Jewell was the key suspect in the bombing, and emphasized he was only a suspect and the potential issues in the law enforcement case against him.[14]

Conviction of Eric Robert Rudolph

After Jewell was cleared, the FBI admitted it had no other suspects, and the investigation made little progress until early 1997, when two more bombings took place at an abortion clinic and a lesbian nightclub, both in the Atlanta area. Similarities in the bomb design allowed investigators to conclude that this was the work of the same perpetrator. One more bombing of an abortion clinic, this time in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed a policeman working as a security guard and seriously injured nurse Emily Lyons,[1] gave the FBI crucial clues including a partial license plate.

The plate and other clues led the FBI to identify Eric Robert Rudolph as a suspect. Rudolph eluded capture and became a fugitive; officials believed he had disappeared into the rugged southern Appalachian Mountains, familiar from his youth. On May 5, 1998, the FBI named him as one of its ten most wanted fugitives and offered a $1 million reward for information leading directly to his arrest. On October 14, 1998, the Department of Justice formally named Rudolph as its suspect in all four bombings.

After more than five years on the run, Rudolph was arrested on May 31, 2003, in Murphy, North Carolina, by a rookie police officer, Jeffrey Scott Postell of the Murphy Police Department behind a Save-A-Lot store at about 4 a.m.; Postell, on routine patrol, had originally suspected a burglary in progress.[15]

On April 8, 2005, the government announced Rudolph would plead guilty to all four bombings, including the Centennial Olympic Park attack.

Rudolph is serving four life terms[1] without the possibility of parole at ADX Florence supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.

Rudolph's justification for the bombings according to his April 13, 2005 statement, was political:[16]

In the summer of 1996, the world converged upon Atlanta for the Olympic Games. Under the protection and auspices of the regime in Washington millions of people came to celebrate the ideals of global socialism. Multinational corporations spent billions of dollars, and Washington organized an army of security to protect these best of all games. Even though the conception and purpose of the so-called Olympic movement is to promote the values of global socialism, as perfectly expressed in the song Imagine by John Lennon, which was the theme of the 1996 Games even though the purpose of the Olympics is to promote these ideals, the purpose of the attack on July 27 was to confound, anger and embarrass the Washington government in the eyes of the world for its abominable sanctioning of abortion on demand.
The plan was to force the cancellation of the Games,[1] or at least create a state of insecurity to empty the streets around the venues and thereby eat into the vast amounts of money invested.

On August 22, 2005, Rudolph, who had previously received a life sentence for the Alabama bombing, was sentenced to three concurrent terms of life imprisonment without parole for the Georgia incidents. Rudolph read a statement at his sentencing in which he apologized to the victims and families only of the Centennial Park bombing, reiterating that he was angry at the government and hoped the Olympics would be canceled. At his sentencing, fourteen other victims or relatives gave statements, including the widower of Alice Hawthorne.

Rudolph's former sister-in-law, Deborah Rudolph, talked about the irony of Rudolph's plea deal putting him in custody of a government he hates. "Knowing that he's living under government control for the rest of his life, I think that's worse to him than death," she told the San Diego Union Tribune in 2005.

As reported in an April 8, 2013, Alabama blog,[17] in February 2013, LuLu.com published Rudolph's book, Between the Lines of Drift: The Memoirs of a Militant, and in April 2013 the U.S. Attorney General seized his $200 royalty to help pay off the $1 million that Rudolph owes in restitution to the state of Alabama.


See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d Gross, Doug (April 14, 2005). "Eric Rudolph Lays Out the Arguments that Fueled His Two-Year Bomb Attacks". San Diego Union-Tribune. Associated Press.
  2. ^ "20 years later, I still lose sleep over the Centennial Olympic Park bombing. Here's why". myajc. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Brenner, Marie (February 1997). "American Nightmare: The Ballad of Richard Jewell". Vanity Fair. Retrieved December 6, 2013.
  4. ^ Brown, Aaron & Harris, Art (February 7, 2001). "The Hunt for Eric Rudolph". CNN Presents. CNN. Retrieved December 6, 2013.
  5. ^ Freeman, Scott (August 24, 2006). "A Hero In His Own Mind". Orlando Weekly. Archived from the original on December 12, 2013. Retrieved December 6, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c "When Terror Struck the Summer Olympics 20 Years Ago". Time. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Olympic park bombing brought terror close to home". politics.myajc. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  8. ^ Shales, Tom (July 26, 1996). "TV Networks Sprint Into Action". Washington Post. p. A26. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  9. ^ "JANET EVANS NEARBY DURING CENTENNIAL PARK EXPLOSION". Deseret News / Associated Press. July 27, 1996. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  10. ^ Mackay, Duncan. "Janet Evans to return to Atlanta as part of 20th anniversary celebrations for 1996 Olympics". Inside the Games. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  11. ^ Jacobs, Jeff (July 28, 1996). "In Atlanta, Fear Roams Hand In Hand With Anger". Hartford Courant.
  12. ^ "Clinton Pledges Thorough Effort to Find Olympic Park Bomber". CNN. July 27, 1996. Retrieved December 6, 2013.
  13. ^ "Ex-Suspect in Bombing Sues Newspapers, College: Jewell's Libel Claim Seeks Unspecified Damages". The Washington Post. January 29, 1997. Archived from the original on October 20, 2012. Retrieved December 6, 2013 – via Highbeam Research.
  14. ^ "Ga. court upholds ruling in Jewell suit". ajc. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  15. ^ "Atlanta Olympic Bombing Suspect Arrested". CNN. May 31, 2003.
  16. ^ "Full Text of Eric Rudolph's Confession". NPR (National Public Radio). April 14, 2005. Retrieved December 6, 2013.
  17. ^ Faulk, Kent (April 8, 2013). "Birmingham Abortion Clinic Bomber Eric Robert Rudolph Fights to Get Profits from His Book". AL.com.

External links

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.”