Today in History – Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Today is Tuesday, May 31, the 152nd day of 2016. There are 214 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On May 31, 1916, during World War I, British and German fleets fought the naval Battle of Jutland off Denmark; there was no clear-cut victor, although the British suffered heavier losses.

On this date:

In 1790, President George Washington signed into law the first U.S. copyright act.

In 1889, some 2,200 people in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, perished when the South Fork Dam collapsed, sending 20 million tons of water rushing through the town.


In 1910, the Union of South Africa was founded.

In 1935, movie studio 20th Century Fox was created through a merger of the Fox Film Corp. and Twentieth Century Pictures.

In 1941, “Tobacco Road,” a play about an impoverished Southern family based on the novel by Erskine Caldwell, closed on Broadway after a run of 3,182 performances.

In 1961, South Africa became an independent republic as it withdrew from the British Commonwealth.

In 1962, former Nazi official Adolf Eichmann was hanged in Israel a few minutes before midnight for his role in the Holocaust.

In 1977, the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, three years in the making, was completed.

In 1985, 88 people were killed, more than 1,000 injured, when 41 tornadoes swept through parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and Ontario, Canada, during an 8-hour period.

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush welcomed Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev to Washington for a summit meeting. The situation comedy “Seinfeld” began airing as a regular series on NBC.

In 1994, the United States announced it was no longer aiming long-range nuclear missiles at targets in the former Soviet Union.

In 2005, breaking a silence of 30 years, former FBI official W. Mark Felt stepped forward as “Deep Throat,” the secret Washington Post source during the Watergate scandal.

Ten years ago: The U.S. said it would join in face-to-face talks with Iran over its disputed nuclear program if Tehran first agreed to put challenged atomic activities on hold; Iran dismissed the offer as “a propaganda move.” NBC’s “Today” show threw a going-away party for 15-year host Katie Couric, who left to become anchor of “The CBS Evening News.”

Five years ago: Angered by civilian casualties, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he would no longer allow NATO airstrikes on houses. Former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic (RAHT’-koh MLAH’-dich) was placed in a U.N. detention unit in the Netherlands to await trial on genocide charges. Atlanta became the first city in the NHL’s modern era to lose two hockey teams as the Thrashers’ owners agreed to sell the struggling franchise to a group that moved it to Winnipeg (Atlanta had also lost the Flames to Calgary in 1980).

One year ago: The U.S. Senate held an extraordinary Sunday session during which it failed to produce an 11th-hour deal to extend the National Security Agency’s authority to collect Americans’ phone records in bulk. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry broke his leg in a bicycle crash near Geneva, forcing him to return to the U.S. for treatment and to scrap the rest of a four-nation trip. Jim Bailey, 77, a singer-actor who transformed himself into such show biz legends as Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand and Peggy Lee during a career that spanned decades, died in Los Angeles. Harriette Thompson of Charlotte, North Carolina, a 92-year-old cancer survivor, became the oldest woman to finish a marathon as she completed the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in San Diego in 7:24:36.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor-director Clint Eastwood is 86. Singer Peter Yarrow is 78. Former Anglican Church envoy Terry Waite is 77. Singer-musician Augie Meyers is 76. Actress Sharon Gless is 73. Football Hall-of-Famer Joe Namath is 73. Broadcast journalist/commentator Bernard Goldberg is 71. Actor Tom Berenger is 66. Actor Gregory Harrison is 66. Actor Julio Oscar Mechoso is 61. Actor Kyle Secor is 59. Actress Roma Maffia (ma-FEE’-uh) is 58. Comedian Chris Elliott is 56. Actress Lea Thompson is 55. Singer Corey Hart is 54. Actor Hugh Dillon is 53. Rapper DMC is 52. Actress Brooke Shields is 51. Country musician Ed Adkins (The Derailers) is 49. TV host Phil Keoghan is 49. Jazz musician Christian McBride is 44. Actress Archie Panjabi is 44. Actor Colin Farrell is 40. Rock musician Scott Klopfenstein (Reel Big Fish) is 39. Actor Eric Christian Olsen is 39. Rock musician Andy Hurley (Fall Out Boy) is 36. Country singer Casey James (TV: “American Idol”) is 34. Actor Jonathan Tucker is 34. Rapper Waka Flocka Flame is 30. Actor Curtis Williams Jr. is 29. Pop singer Normani Hamilton (Fifth Harmony) (TV: “The X Factor”) is 20.

Thought for Today: “The future is no more uncertain than the present.” — Walt Whitman, American poet (born this date in 1819, died 1892).

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