Today in History – Friday, July 29, 2016


Today is Friday, July 29, the 211th day of 2016. There are 155 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On July 29, 1976, the first of eight shootings ascribed to the serial killer known as “Son of Sam” occurred on a street in The Bronx, New York, as a gunman killed 18-year-old Donna Lauria and wounded her friend, 19-year-old Jody Valenti. (In a yearlong reign of terror, the shooter also known as the “.44 Caliber Killer” would claim five more lives and wound six more people until the arrest of David Berkowitz, who is serving a life prison sentence.)

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On this date:

In 1588, the English attacked the Spanish Armada in the Battle of Gravelines, resulting in an English victory.

In 1890, artist Vincent van Gogh, 37, died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound in Auvers-sur-Oise, France.

In 1900, Italian King Humbert I was assassinated by an anarchist; he was succeeded by his son, Victor Emmanuel III.

In 1914, transcontinental telephone service in the U.S. became operational with the first test conversation between New York and San Francisco. Massachusetts’ Cape Cod Canal, offering a shortcut across the base of the peninsula, was officially opened to shipping traffic.

In 1921, Adolf Hitler became the leader (“fuehrer”) of the National Socialist German Workers Party.

In 1948, Britain’s King George VI opened the Olympic Games in London.

In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, creating NASA.

In 1967, an accidental rocket launch aboard the supercarrier USS Forrestal in the Gulf of Tonkin resulted in a fire and explosions that killed 134 servicemen.

In 1975, President Gerald R. Ford became the first U.S. president to visit the site of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz in Poland.

In 1981, Britain’s Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in a glittering ceremony at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. (However, the couple divorced in 1996.)

In 1994, abortion opponent Paul Hill shot and killed Dr. John Bayard Britton and Britton’s bodyguard, James H. Barrett, outside the Ladies Center clinic in Pensacola, Florida. (Hill was executed in Sept. 2003.)

In 2004, Sen. John Kerry accepted the Democratic presidential nomination at the party’s convention in Boston with a military salute and the declaration: “I’m John Kerry and I’m reporting for duty.”

Ten years ago: The U.S. command announced it was sending 3,700 troops to Baghdad to try to quell sectarian violence sweeping the Iraqi capital. Actor-director Mel Gibson issued a lengthy statement apologizing for his drunken-driving arrest and for what he called his “despicable” statements toward the deputies who’d arrested him in Malibu, California.

Five years ago: Norway began burying the dead, a week after an anti-Muslim extremist killed 77 people in a bombing and shooting rampage. Delaware carried out its first execution since 2005, putting to death Robert Jackson III, who was convicted of killing a woman, Elizabeth Girardi, with an ax during a burglary.

One year ago: Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee that America’s armed forces stood ready to confront Iran, but that a successful implementation of the nuclear agreement with Tehran was preferable to a military strike. Afghan authorities announced they were certain that the Taliban’s reclusive leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, had died in a Pakistani hospital in 2013. Microsoft released its Windows 10 operating system, an upgrade of Windows 8.

Today’s Birthdays: Comedian “Professor” Irwin Corey is 102. Former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum-Baker is 84. Actor Robert Fuller is 83. Former Sen. Elizabeth H. Dole is 80. Actor David Warner is 75. Actress Roz Kelly is 74. Rock musician Neal Doughty (REO Speedwagon) is 70. Marilyn Tucker Quayle, wife of former Vice President Dan Quayle, is 67. Actor Mike Starr is 66. Documentary maker Ken Burns is 63. Style guru Tim Gunn (TV: “Project Runway”) is 63. Rock singer-musician Geddy Lee (Rush) is 63. Rock singer Patti Scialfa (Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band) is 63. Olympic gold medal gymnast Nellie Kim is 59. Actor Kevin Chapman is 54. Actress Alexandra Paul is 53. Actor/comedian Dean Haglund (TV: “The X Files”) is 51. Country singer Martina McBride is 50. Rock musician Chris Gorman is 49. Actor Rodney Allen Rippy is 48. Actor Tim Omundson is 47. Actor Ato Essandoh is 44. Actor Wil Wheaton is 44. Rhythm-and-blues singer Wanya Morris (Boyz II Men) is 43. Country singer-songwriter James Otto is 43. Actor Stephen Dorff is 43. Actor Josh Radnor is 42. Hip-hop DJ/music producer Danger Mouse is 39. Actress Rachel Miner is 36. Actress Allison Mack is 34. Actress Kaitlyn Black is 33. Actor Matt Prokop is 26.

Thought for Today: “Man must rise above the Earth — to the top of the atmosphere and beyond — for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.” — Socrates, Greek philosopher (469 B.C.-399 B.C.)

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