Today in History – Friday, June 30, 2017

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Today is Friday, June 30, the 181st day of 2017. There are 184 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On June 30, 1997, the Union Jack was lowered for the last time over Government House in Hong Kong as Britain prepared to hand the colony back to China at midnight after ruling it for 156 years.

On this date:

In 1859, French acrobat Charles Blondin (blahn-DAN’) walked back and forth on a tightrope above the gorge of Niagara Falls as thousands of spectators watched.

In 1865, eight people, including Mary Surratt and Dr. Samuel Mudd, were convicted by a military commission of conspiring with John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln. (Four defendants, including Surratt, were executed; Mudd was sentenced to life in prison, but was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson in 1869.)

In 1892, small frogs rained down on Moseley, England, south of Birmingham. (According to an account quoted in the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Monthly Weather Review for May 1917, the frogs, described as “almost white in color,” were found “scattered about several gardens” and had “evidently been absorbed in a small waterspout” during a storm.)

In 1908, the Tunguska Event took place in Russia as an asteroid exploded above Siberia, leaving 800 square miles of scorched or blown-down trees.

In 1917, singer, actress and activist Lena Horne was born in Brooklyn, New York.

In 1936, the Civil War novel “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell was first published by The Macmillan Co. in New York.

In 1949, “The Missouri Waltz” became the official state song of Missouri.

In 1952, “The Guiding Light,” a popular radio program, began a 57-year television run on CBS.

In 1963, Pope Paul VI was crowned the 262nd head of the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1966, the National Organization for Women (NOW) was founded in Washington, D.C.

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter announced he had decided against production of the Rockwell B-1 bomber, saying it was too costly. (However, the B-1 was later revived by President Ronald Reagan.)

In 1985, 39 American hostages from a hijacked TWA jetliner were freed in Beirut after being held 17 days.

Ten years ago: Two men rammed an SUV loaded with gasoline canisters into the main terminal at Glasgow (GLAS’-goh) Airport in Scotland, failing to set off an explosion, but seriously burning one of the suspects; the attack came a day after two cars rigged as bombs were found and defused in London.

Five years ago: Islamist Mohammed Morsi became Egypt’s first freely elected president as he was sworn in during a pair of ceremonies. An international conference in Geneva accepted a U.N.-brokered peace plan calling for creation of a transitional government in Syria, but at Russia’s insistence the compromise left the door open to Syria’s president being a part of it. Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir died at age 96. Yaroslava Shvedova (yar-al-SLAH’-vah SHVEH’-doh-vah) of Kazakhstan became the first player in a Grand Slam tournament to win every point of a set on her way to beating French Open runner-up Sara Errani 6-0, 6-4 in the third round of Wimbledon.

One year ago: Saying it was the right thing to do, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that transgender people would be allowed to serve openly in the U.S. military, ending one of the last bans on service in the armed forces. President Barack Obama signed a rescue package for financially strapped Puerto Rico, which was facing more than $70 billion in debt and a major payment due the next day. Rodrigo Duterte (doo-TEHR’-tay) was sworn as president of the Philippines.

Today’s Birthdays: Actress Lea Massari is 84. Actress Nancy Dussault (doo-SOH’) is 81. Songwriter Tony Hatch is 78. Singer Glenn Shorrock is 73. Actor Leonard Whiting is 67. Jazz musician Stanley Clarke is 66. Actor David Garrison is 65. Rock musician Hal Lindes (Dire Straits) is 64. Actor-comedian David Alan Grier is 61. Actor Vincent D’Onofrio is 58. Actress Deirdre Lovejoy is 55. Actor Rupert Graves is 54. Boxer Mike Tyson is 51. Actor Peter Outerbridge is 51. Rock musician Tom Drummond (Better Than Ezra) is 48. Actor Brian Bloom is 47. Actor Brian Vincent is 47. Actress Monica Potter is 46. Actress Molly Parker is 45. Actor Rick Gonzalez is 38. Actor Tom Burke is 36. Actress Lizzy Caplan is 35. Rock musician James Adam Shelley (American Authors) is 34. Country singer Cole Swindell is 34. Rhythm-and-blues singer Fantasia is 33. Olympic gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps is 32.

Thought for Today: “I believe the future is only the past again, entered through another gate.” — Sir Arthur Wing Pinero, English dramatist (1855-1934).

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