18th November
It was on this day...
1978 Jonestown Mass Suicide

913 died, including 276 children.

Those committing suicide drank a cyanide-laced fruit punch, those who refused were either forced to drink it at gunpoint, or shot if they tried to flee.

It happened at a commune in northwestern Guyana. The cult leader was Jim Jones.

World attention was drawn to the commune after US Congressman Leo Ryan led a delegation to investigate. When a number of the members asked Ryan to help them escape, Jim Jones threatened Ryan with a knife. Ryan survived that attack, but at the airport he and his companions were executed as they attempted to board their planes.

Back at Jonestown the mass suicide was quickly organized. Jones himself died of gun wounds to the head, probably suicide. About a dozen survived.

It was on this day...
1883 USA Gets Four Time Zones As Railroad Timetables Are Introduced

Before noon on this day, the USA had thousands of different local times (based generally on the time of day the sun was at it's highest). When the railroads arrived this caused a problem because how would you know which time the train would arrive?

The answer was four continent-wide time zones.

It would not be until 1918, however, that the federal authorities put time zones under the jurisdiction of the Interstate Commerce Commission.

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Other News

1928 Mickey Mouse stars in Steamboat Willie, his first ever appearance. The cartoon had synchronized sound, the first time this had ever been done. Mickey's voice was provided by Walt Disney.

1963 The first push button telephone is introduced.

1991 Terry Waite, held hostage by Shiite kidnappers in Lebanon for more than 4 years, is released.

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