Today in history


Today is Monday, Feb. 20, the 51st day of 2017. There are 314 days left in the year. This is Presidents Day.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Feb. 20, 1942, Lt. Edward “Butch” O’Hare became the U.S. Navy’s first flying ace of World War II by shooting down five Japanese bombers while defending the aircraft carrier USS Lexington in the South Pacific. (O’Hare, a recipient of the Medal of Honor, was killed in action in 1943; Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is named for him.)

On this date:

In 1792, President George Washington signed an act creating the United States Post Office Department.

In 1816, the opera buffa “The Barber of Seville” by Gioachino Rossini premiered in Rome under its original title, “Almaviva, or the Useless Precaution.”

In 1862, William Wallace Lincoln, the 11-year-old son of President Abraham Lincoln and first lady Mary Todd Lincoln, died at the White House, apparently of typhoid fever.

In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt signed an immigration act which excluded “idiots, imbeciles, feebleminded persons, epileptics, insane persons” from being admitted to the United States.

In 1915, the Panama Pacific International Exposition opened in San Francisco (the fair lasted until December).

In 1938, Anthony Eden resigned as British foreign secretary following Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s decision to negotiate with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.

In 1950, the U.S. Supreme Court, in United States v. Rabinowitz, ruled 5-3 that authorities making a lawful arrest did not need a warrant to search and seize evidence in an area that was in the “immediate and complete control” of the suspect.

In 1962, astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth as he flew aboard Project Mercury’s Friendship 7 spacecraft.

In 1971, the National Emergency Warning Center in Colorado erroneously ordered U.S. radio and TV stations off the air; some stations heeded the alert, which was not lifted for about 40 minutes.

In 1987, a bomb left by Unabomber Ted Kaczynski exploded behind a computer store in Salt Lake City, seriously injuring store owner Gary Wright. Soviet authorities released Jewish activist Josef Begun.

In 1998, Tara Lipinski of the U.S. won the ladies’ figure skating gold medal at the Nagano Olympics; fellow American Michelle Kwan won the silver.

In 2003, a fire sparked by pyrotechnics broke out during a concert by the group Great White at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island, killing 100 people and injuring about 200 others.

Ten years ago: In a victory for President George W. Bush, a divided federal appeals court ruled that Guantanamo Bay detainees could not use the U.S. court system to challenge their indefinite imprisonment. In New Orleans, thousands of hurricane-weary residents joined with rowdy visitors to celebrate the second Mardi Gras since Katrina.

Five years ago: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (dih-MEE’-tree med-VYEH’-dyev) held an unprecedented meeting with opposition leaders, who said they were encouraged by his promises to make it easier for anti-Kremlin parties to take part in elections. Former senator and astronaut John Glenn celebrated the 50th anniversary of his history-making space flight at Ohio State University by kicking off a forum about NASA’s future.

One year ago: Six people were shot to death in the Kalamazoo, Michigan, area; an Uber driver is charged with murder and attempted murder in the apparently random attacks. Donald Trump barreled to victory in South Carolina’s Republican primary; Hillary Clinton pulled out a crucial win over Bernie Sanders in Nevada’s Democratic caucuses. A funeral Mass was held for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Lindsey Vonn clinched a record 20th World Cup crystal globe title in La Thuile (lah tweel), Italy, surpassing Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark.

Today’s Birthdays: Gloria Vanderbilt is 93. Actor Sidney Poitier is 90. Racing Hall of Famer Bobby Unser is 83. Actress Marj Dusay is 81. Jazz-soul singer Nancy Wilson is 80. Racing Hall of Famer Roger Penske is 80. Singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie is 76. Hockey Hall-of-Famer Phil Esposito is 75. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is 75. Movie director Mike Leigh is 74. Actress Brenda Blethyn is 71. Actress Sandy Duncan is 71. Rock musician J. Geils is 71. Actor Peter Strauss is 70. Rock musician Billy Zoom (X) is 69. Rock singer-musician-producer Walter Becker (Steely Dan) is 67. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is 66. Country singer Kathie Baillie is 66. Actor John Voldstad is 66. Newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst is 63. Actor Anthony Stewart Head is 63. Country singer Leland Martin is 60. Actor James Wilby is 59. Rock musician Sebastian Steinberg is 58. Comedian Joel Hodgson (HAHD’-suhn) is 57. Basketball Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkley is 54. Rock musician Ian Brown (Stone Roses) is 54. Actor Willie Garson is 53. Actor French Stewart is 53. Actor Ron Eldard is 52. Model Cindy Crawford is 51. Actor Andrew Shue is 50. Actress Lili Taylor is 50. Actress Andrea Savage is 44. Singer Brian Littrell is 42. Actress Lauren Ambrose is 39. Actor Jay Hernandez is 39. Actress Chelsea Peretti is 39. Country musician Coy Bowles is 38. Actress Majandra Delfino is 36. Singer-musician Chris Thile (THEE’-lee) is 36. Actress-singer Jessie Mueller is 34. Comedian Trevor Noah is 33. Actor Jake Richardson is 32. Actress Daniella Pineda is 30. Singer Rihanna is 29. Actor Jack Falahee is 28.

Thought for Today: “There is no hope of joy except in human relations.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupery, French author-aviator (1900-1944).

By The Associated Press

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