18 March 1942

The War Relocation Authority is established in the United States to take Japanese Americans into custody.

The War Relocation Authority (WRA) was a United States government agency established during World War II with the primary purpose of overseeing the forced relocation and internment of Japanese Americans living on the West Coast. This action was carried out following the signing of Executive Order 9066 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942.

Executive Order 9066 authorized the Secretary of War and military commanders to designate certain areas as military zones and to exclude individuals from those areas. As a result, over 120,000 individuals of Japanese descent, the majority of whom were American citizens, were forcibly removed from their homes and placed in internment camps located in remote areas of the country.

The WRA was tasked with managing the relocation process, including the establishment and operation of the internment camps. These camps were often situated in desolate regions with harsh living conditions. Families were forced to leave behind their homes, businesses, and possessions, facing significant economic and psychological hardships.

Although the government cited reasons of national security and military necessity for the internment, many historians and scholars have since criticized it as a grave violation of civil liberties and human rights. In 1988, the United States government formally apologized for the internment and enacted the Civil Liberties Act, which provided reparations and a formal apology to surviving Japanese American internees.

The internment of Japanese Americans during World War II stands as a dark chapter in American history, highlighting the dangers of prejudice, racism, and the erosion of civil liberties during times of conflict and fear.

18 March 1850

American Express is founded by Henry Wells and William Fargo.

When it comes to American Express, almost everyone is a fan. From Jerry Seinfeld to Beyonce, many celebrities have shown their love for the company. Before “Don’t Leave Home Without It” became a thing, the company started out on a different path.
Together We’ll Go Far

If you’re familiar with banks, you probably have someone using Wells Fargo. Henry Wells and William Fargo came from different upbringings. Wells worked on the farm as a kid while going to school. On the other side, Fargo ditched school entirely to deliver mail in his town.

As they got older, the two managed to work together on Western Express. At the time, this mailing service only delivered to Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, and St. Louis. Unfortunately, they couldn’t use railroads to help bring packages to their destinations. Since cars weren’t invented yet, wagons and steamboats had to be used. Over time, Fargo and Wells had their own separate mailing service companies. If that wasn’t enough, John Warren Butterfield threw their hat in the mail game.
Some Stiff Competition

With three services running simultaneously, things got a bit hectic. Certain packages couldn’t make it their destination because another company held down the area. No one involved wanted to become Ethan Hunt in this situation.

In 1850, all three men decided to combine their services to make one major package powerhouse. On March 18, 1850, Wells, Fargo, and Butterfield united to open up American Express.
Service For Everyone

Before the merger, all three companies predominantly serviced the Midwest. Something that was on the minds of Wells and Fargo was expanding the business to California. While the state only had around 93,000 residents, it still would’ve been financially beneficial.

Unfortunately, Butterfield rejected the idea, which led to Wells and Fargo starting Wells Fargo & Company. American Express eventually extended their services across the country. After becoming a money order business, it slowly evolved into the billion-dollar juggernaut it is today. Using that American Express card at Wells Fargo almost feels like old friends reuniting.

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.

18 March 1850

American Express is founded by William Fargo and Henry Wells.

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Henry Wells was a nineteenth century man of vision. A shipper by trade, he believed the eastern portion of the United States was a wide open market, just waiting for someone to come along and claim it. In 1850, he did just that. With the help of several partners, including William Fargo, he launched the American Express Company and forever changed how goods were shipped. Wells began American Express as a shipping company, but over time with the introduction of Travelers Cheques, charge cards, and traveler services, his business ultimately changed the way people travel throughout the world.

While working at his messenger service, Wells met another like-minded young man named William G. Fargo. The two soon began an express partnership of their own that ran between New York and Michigan. Similar shipping businesses had popped up all over the East Coast and into the Midwest, and the competition soon became fierce. In order to survive and thrive, Wells and Fargo, along with several rival businesses, combined their operations and formed the American Express Company in March 1850. Wells was elected the new firm’s president, a post he held for the next eighteen years.

Wells and Fargo had high hopes for American Express, and wanted to branch out from the East Coast and midwestern states to the West Coast. Gold had been discovered in California and thousands were flocking West to seek their fortunes. The other business partners in American Express did not want to expand westward, and certainly not all the way to California. California, which had just been purchased by the United States from Mexico, seemed foreign and very far away to most New Yorkers. Wells and Fargo, however, were not deterred; instead they raised money for a new venture that would offer a host of services for gold miners and businessmen out West.

In 1852, with $300,000 in financial backing, Wells and Fargo created Wells, Fargo & Company for the purpose of providing express services to western cities. Wells decided to travel to California himself in 1853, just over six months after the new company began its business services. He was delighted with what he found in California, and he had first-hand proof that Wells, Fargo & Company had turned out to be an excellent business venture.