In the 1990's a secretive cult called "The Order of the Solar Temple" was at the centre of several mass deaths in Europe and Canada. Devoted followers believed that by committing suicide they would be transported to a new life on the star Sirius. Anyone who wavered was murdered. The cult was run by a charismatic homeopathic doctor and a paranoid businessman. Together they recruited rich, educated professionals from around the world.
Music in this episode performed and written by Lee Rosevere and Broke For Free. News clips are courtesy of CBC news archives.
On December 14, 1995, Bosnian leaders signed a peace treaty that ended Europe’s worst conflict since World War 2. During three years of fighting between Serbs, Croats and Muslims, between two and three million people were displaced from their homes and 200,000 were killed. The 1995 peace agreement divided Bosnia almost equally between Serbs and a Croat-Muslim alliance. The agreement also stated that war criminals would face a tribunal at The Hague. In the years that followed the agreement, 14 Bosnian Serb political and military leaders were convicted. Many of the convictions were connected to what happened in Srebrenica. This episode looks back at the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys who had taken refuge at the UN safe Haven.
On November 5, 1995, an armed intruded broke into the house of Canada's Prime Minister. He wandered around undetected by RCMP officers stationed on the property until Prime Minister's wife woke up and called for help. What happened next shocked Canadians even more.
On October 1, 1995, the biggest terrorism trial in American history ended with guilty verdicts for a man known as the "Blind Sheik" and nine of his followers.
An eight month trial had revealed that the group planned to wage a war of urban terrorism against the United States. Their overall goal was to force America to abandon support for Israel and Egypt.
Led by Omar Abdel-Rahman, a blind Egyptian cleric, the group of militant muslims had planned to carry out a string of terrorist’s bombings and assassinations that culminated with a cataclysmic day of terror in New York City.
On September 19, 1995, The Washington Post included a special eight page pullout that contained a 35,000 word manifesto written by someone known only as the Unabomber. Three months earlier the Unabomber had sent packages to the Washington Post that contained a inside a 56 page document entitled ‘Industrial Society and Its Future" along with 11 pages of footnotes. The Post and the Times had also received a letter that said if they published the 56 manuscript the sender would stop harming people and if they refused he would start building his next bomb.
On August 24, 1995, Bill Gates officially released Windows 95. The user-friendly computer operating system changed the way the world used personal computers. The Windows 95 OS introduced a taskbar, and desktop and the now iconic START button for launching applications. Users no longer needed to understand complicated commands to launch programs and access files. This mini episode takes a look back at the 300 million dollar marketing campaign that Microsoft conducted in conjunction with the launch Windows 95.
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On August 1, 1995, a beloved Ottawa sportscaster was shot in the head while walking in the parking lot of the TV station where he worked. Smith, a former professional hockey player, died the next day from his injuries. Initially police believed that someone with a beef against Smith had stalked him outside the CJOH TV station. But the next day a man who believed the media was broadcasting messages into his head surrendered to police. It turned out Smith was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Music in this episode was written and performed by Lee Rosevere. The closing song, What's The Frequency, Kenneth is by REM and is about the man who attacked Dan Rather and also suffered from delusions of reference.
On July 12, 1995 a dangerous hot air mass settled over the city of Chicago. A heat advisory was issued that warned of an impending record-breaking heatwave. By the time it was over more than 700 people were dead. Many of them were old, alone and poor.
For three days temperatures remained at 99 degrees or higher causing the deadliest weather event in Chicago’s history.
Sources for this episode include:
Heatwave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago by Eric Klinenberg
On this day in 1995 the trial of Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss got underway in Los Angeles. Fleiss was charged with tax evasion and money laundering in connection with her international call girl ring and prosecutors promised that the trial would reveal some of her high profile clients.
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On June 8, 1995, the Mike Harris Conservatives were elected to run the province of Ontario. Harris campaigned on a platform that he called The Common Sense Revolution. For the next seven years Ontario underwent massive changes in everything from Welfare to Health Care. Conservative Cabinet Ministers were often on the hot seat as they implemented the changes in an atmosphere of protest and push-back. This episode of 1995 looks back at Mike Harris Government and the first year of their Common Sense Revolution in Ontario.
Music in this episode courtesy of "Broke for Free"
On this day in 1995, February 17th, a verdict was handed down in one of the most bizarre criminal trials ever. Colin Ferguson was charged with six counts of murder in connection with the Long Island Rail Road Massacre in 1993. His lawyers wanted him to plead guilty by reason of insanity but he refused to accept that plea. Ferguson fired his lawyers and defended himself. He took on the demeanor of an experienced lawyer and referred to himself in the third person when he cross examined 17 of the 19 people who survived the shooting spree.
February 7, 1995, iconic rapper and actor Tupac Shakur was sentenced to prison in connection with the sexual abuse of a 19-year- old woman. Shakur and his road manager had been charged with numerous offences after the Brooklyn woman said she was attacked by Shakur and three other men in a hotel room. They were found guilty of three counts of first degree sex abuse but found not guilty of the more serious charge of sodomy. The judge sentenced Shakur to 18 months to 4 and half years in jail. Shakur was out 8 months later after Suge Knight of Death Row Records posted $1.4 million in bail pending an appeal in the case.
In November 1995, the Middle East Peace Process came to an abrupt halt when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. Two years before his death, Rabin had brokered a peace deal with PLO leader Yasser Arafat that would lead to Israel's withdrawal from the occupied territories.
25 year old right wing Jew Yigal Amir along with occupiers and other extremists were against the plan. Amir decided the only way to stop it from moving forward was to kill Prime Minister Rabin.
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On March 20th, 1995, a deadly nerve gas was released in the Tokyo Subway system. Passengers stumbled out of the trains coughing and choking. Many collapsed and went into convulsions. No one had any idea what was going on. Thousands were injured and 13 died in the attack which was carried out by a doomsday cult that was trying to provoke a world war. Thanks to Professor Paul Midford from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology for his contribution to this episode. Twitter: @1995podcast FB:1995Podcast Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the shadow of the OJ Simpson trial, another high profile trial grabbed public attention in 1995. The trial of Susan Smith would reveal many shocking secrets about the young woman from South Carolina accused of killing her 2 young sons. All music in this episode is written and produced by Lee Revere. Twitter: @1995podcast Facebook: 1995 podcast
Part two on the Ipperwash Crisis looks back at the criminal case and the public inquiry that took place after the shooting. It took years to unravel what really happened at Ipperwash Provincial Park in September 1995 when a native protestor was shot dead by police.
In September 1995, a small group of natives in Southwestern Ontario, occupied a provincial park and campground on the shore of Lake Huron. They claimed Ipperwash Provincial Park contained sacred native burial grounds. Within days the peaceful protest erupted in violence when heavily armed police officers marched to the park to confront the natives. Native protestor Dudley George was shot and killed by a police sniper. Part one of this two part series looks back at the years leading up to the occupation and at the night that George was killed. The opening music in this episode was recorded at a Chippewa Pow Wow at the Kettle and Stony Point Reserve. Thanks to Peter Edwards who shared his knowledge about this complicated case. His book about the Ipperwash crisis is called One Dead Indian.
In honor of Canada Day a special episode of 1995! One of the most intense moments in Canadian history happened on October 30th, 1995. A referendum was held in Quebec asking people of that province if they wanted to separate from Canada and create their own independent country. The road to the vote was equally as intense and dates back to the 1960's when a radical separatist group terrorized Quebec. Music in this episode written and performed by Min Y Llan and Downliners Sekt. You can reach me on Facebook @1995podcast and on Twitter @1995_podcast.
In August 1995, a commute home on a hot Friday evening became a horrific nightmare when a Toronto train crashed at full speed into the back of a stopped train. This episode looks back at the collision that killed 3 people and injured dozens more. The investigation after the crash found that almost everything went wrong that night. All music written and produced by Lee Rosevere and Jorge Mario Zuleta.
Before 9-11 there was the Oklahoma City Bombing. When the bombing occurred on April 19th, 1995, it was the worst act of terrorism in US history. But in this case it was an act of homegrown violence not international terrorism. This episode of 1995 looks back at the rescue efforts at the bomb scene and the hunt for John Doe #1 and John Doe #2 which eventually resulted in the arrest of US Army Veteran Timothy McVeigh and his army buddy Terry Nichols. All music in this episode written and performed by Lee Rosevere. 1995 is on Facebook @1995podcast and Twitter @1995_podcast.
On Oct 3, 1995, over 95 million people watched live on TV as the verdicts were read in the OJ Simpson Murder Trial. The country waited anxiously to find out what would happen on the streets of Los Angeles. If OJ was found guilty would there be a race riot. I was outside the LA county courthouse with microphone and tape recorder covering the reaction for my radio station back in Toronto. This episode of 1995 recreates that day when OJ Simpson was found not guilty.