Today in History Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017


Today is Saturday, Feb. 18, the 49th day of 2017. There are 316 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Feb. 18, 1977, the space shuttle prototype Enterprise, sitting atop a Boeing 747, went on its debut “flight” above Edwards Air Force Base in California.

On this date:

In 1546, Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant Reformation in Germany, died in Eisleben.

In 1861, Jefferson Davis was sworn in as provisional president of the Confederate States of America in Montgomery, Alabama.

In 1913, Mexican President Francisco I. Madero and Vice President Jose Maria Pino Suarez were arrested during a military coup (both were shot to death on Feb. 22).

In 1930, photographic evidence of Pluto (now designated a “dwarf planet”) was discovered by Clyde W. Tombaugh at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.

In 1943, Madame Chiang Kai-shek, wife of the Chinese leader, addressed members of the Senate and then the House, becoming the first Chinese national to address both houses of the U.S. Congress.

In 1953, “Bwana Devil,” the movie that heralded the 3D fad of the 1950s, had its New York opening.

In 1960, the 8th Winter Olympic Games were formally opened in Squaw Valley, California, by Vice President Richard M. Nixon.

In 1967, American theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer died in Princeton, New Jersey, at age 62.

In 1970, the “Chicago Seven” defendants were found not guilty of conspiring to incite riots at the 1968 Democratic national convention; five were convicted of violating the Anti-Riot Act of 1968 (those convictions were later reversed).

In 1984, Italy and the Vatican signed an accord under which Roman Catholicism ceased to be the state religion of Italy.

In 1997, astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery completed their tuneup of the Hubble Space Telescope after 33 hours of spacewalking; the Hubble was then released using the shuttle’s crane.

In 2001, auto racing star Dale Earnhardt Sr. died in a crash at the Daytona 500; he was 49.

Ten years ago: A military helicopter crashed in southeastern Afghanistan, killing eight U.S. service members; 14 survived with injuries. Twin car bombs blew up in a mostly Shiite area of Baghdad, killing at least 62 people. A pair of bombs on a train headed from India to Pakistan killed 68 people. Kevin Harvick nosed out Mark Martin in a frantic wreck-filled finish to win the Daytona 500. The West routed the East, 153-132, in the NBA All-Star game.

Five years ago: A star-studded funeral service was held for pop singer Whitney Houston at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey, a week after her death at age 48. Syrian security forces fired live rounds and tear gas at thousands of people marching in a funeral procession that turned into one of the largest protests in Damascus since the 11-month uprising against President Bashar Assad (bah-SHAR’ AH’-sahd) began. Vitali Klitschko’s (VIH’-tah-lee KLICH’-kohz) 10th successful defense of his WBC heavyweight title in Munich ended in chaos when challenger Dereck Chisora brawled with former WBA champion David Haye during the post-match news conference.

One year ago: In what was seen as a criticism of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Pope Francis said that a person who advocated building walls was “not Christian”; Trump quickly retorted it was “disgraceful” to question a person’s faith. (A Vatican spokesman said the next day that the pope’s comment was not intended as a “personal attack” on the real estate mogul.) Dallas-based Heritage Auctions said a rare copy of a comic book featuring the first appearance of Spider-Man had been sold to an anonymous collector for $454,100.

Today’s Birthdays: Former Sen. John Warner, R-Va., is 90. Author Toni Morrison is 86. Movie director Milos (MEE’-lohsh) Forman is 85. Singer Yoko Ono is 84. Singer-songwriter Bobby Hart is 78. Singer Irma Thomas is 76. Singer Herman Santiago (Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers) is 76. Actress Jess Walton is 71. Singer Dennis DeYoung is 70. Actress Sinead Cusack is 69. Actress Cybill Shepherd is 67. Singer Juice Newton is 65. Singer Randy Crawford is 65. Rock musician Robbie Bachman is 64. Rock musician Larry Rust (Iron Butterfly) is 64. Actor John Travolta is 63. Actor John Pankow is 62. Game show host Vanna White is 60. Actress Jayne Atkinson is 58. Actress Greta Scacchi (SKAH’-kee) is 57. Actor Matt Dillon is 53. Rock musician Tommy Scott (Space) is 53. Rapper Dr. Dre is 52. Actress Molly Ringwald is 49. Actress Sarah Brown is 42. Country musician Trevor Rosen (Old Dominion) is 42. Actor Ike Barinholtz is 40. Actor Kristoffer Polaha is 40. Singer-musician Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek) is 40. Actor Tyrone Burton is 38. Rock-singer musician Regina Spektor is 37. Opera singer Isabel Leonard is 35. Roots rock musician Zac Cockrell (Alabama Shakes) is 29. Actor Shane Lyons is 29. Actress Sara Sutherland (TV: “Veep”) is 29. Actress Maiara Walsh is 29.

Thought for Today: “Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.” — Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, German philosopher (1770-1831).

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