December 8, 2004 — Dimebag Darrell is shot and killed

Darrell Lance Abbott – better known to fans as “Dimebag Darrell” – was born on August 20, 1966. He was not yet thirty years old when he was shot dead onstage at the Alarosa in Columbus, Ohio on December 8, 2004. At the time, he was playing with Damageplan, although he was best known for his work with Pantera (who had recently broken up).

The shooter was Nathan Gale. He shot Dimebag six times, killing him instantly. He then fired another nine shots, killing four other people and wounding seven more. Gale was shot dead by police at the scene.

Dimebag was buried in a Kiss Kasket donated by Gene Simmons, and buried with him was Eddie Van Halen’s guitar Bumblebee, also donated.

February 25, 2004 — Niyazov bans beards in Turkmenistan

Just in case there was any remaining doubt that he was a raving loony, Saparmurat Niyazov, President For Life of the Central Asian Republic of Turkmenistan after it won its independence from the Soviet Union, decided to ban the wearing of beards or long hair by men. (It is unclear whether or not women were still permitted to grow beards, but probably not.) Among other things, he also banned gold teeth, lip-synching during concerts and the wearing of make up by television newscasters.

Despite Niyazov’s death two years later of a heart attack, human rights in Turkmenistan remain very poor, with the nation running second only to North Korea in freedom of the press.

February 5, 2004 — Undocumented workers drowned in Morecambe Bay

Morecambe Bay is located in Lancashire, England, and is the site of a traditional cockle picking area. But as with many low paid manual labour occupations, it has become difficult to attract locals to work in it anymore. Which creates the condition under which low paid workers, smuggled in from another country, may be illegally employed.

In 2004, a group of more than 40 Chinese immigrants was hired by David Anthony Eden, Sr. and Jr., who paid them what they knew to be illegally low wages. The immigrants had been smuggled by a Chinese tried. They had little or no English, little or no training for the work they were doing, and, crucially, virtually no swimming skills. More than forty of them were trapped by the incoming tide, and more than twenty of them drowned.

In the resulting trial, several triad members were given lengthy prison sentences, but no one else was.