Today in History – Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Today is Wednesday, May 31, the 151st day of 2017. There are 214 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On May 31, 1977, the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline, three years in the making despite objections from environmentalists and Alaska Natives, was completed. (The first oil began flowing through the pipeline 20 days later; today the pipeline carries an average of 1.8 million barrels of oil a day, according to the Alaska Public Lands Information Centers website.)

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 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.

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

In 1949, former State Department official and accused spy Alger Hiss went on trial in New York, charged with perjury (the jury deadlocked, but Hiss was convicted in a second trial).

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 1970, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake in Peru claimed an estimated 67,000 lives.

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 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: President George W. Bush, under international pressure to take tough action against global warming, called for a world summit to set a long-term global strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In a breach of security, detailed plans for the new U.S. Embassy under construction in Baghdad appeared on the website of the architectural firm that was contracted to design the massive facility. Former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush attended the dedication of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Five years ago: Democrat John Edwards’ campaign finance fraud case ended in a mistrial when jurors in Greensboro, North Carolina, acquitted him on one of six charges but were unable to decide whether he’d misused money from two wealthy donors to hide his pregnant mistress while he ran for president. (Prosecutors declined to retry Edwards on the five unresolved counts.) President Barack Obama welcomed his predecessor back to the White House for the unveiling of the official portraits of former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush. Fourteen-year-old Snigdha Nandipati (SNIHG’-nah nahn-dih-PAW’-tee) of San Diego won the 85th Scripps National Spelling Bee by correctly spelling “guetapens (GEHT’-uh-pawn),” a French-derived word meaning ambush, snare or trap.

One year ago: A jury found former suburban Chicago police officer Drew Peterson guilty of trying to hire someone to kill the prosecutor who helped to convict him in the killing of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. President Barack Obama personally congratulated the Villanova University men’s basketball team for winning what he described as “maybe the best title game of all time” in the 2016 NCAA tournament.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor-director Clint Eastwood is 87. Singer Peter Yarrow is 79. Former Humanitarian Terry Waite is 78. Singer-musician Augie Meyers is 77. Actress Sharon Gless is 74. Football Hall-of-Famer Joe Namath is 74. Broadcast journalist/commentator Bernard Goldberg is 72. Actor Tom Berenger is 67. Actor Gregory Harrison is 67. Actor Julio Oscar Mechoso is 62. Actor Kyle Secor is 60. Actress Roma Maffia (ma-FEE’-uh) is 59. Comedian Chris Elliott is 57. Actress Lea Thompson is 56. Singer Corey Hart is 55. Actor Hugh Dillon is 54. Rapper DMC is 53. Actress Brooke Shields is 52. Country musician Ed Adkins (The Derailers) is 50. TV host Phil Keoghan is 50. Jazz musician Christian McBride is 45. Actress Archie Panjabi is 45. Actor Colin Farrell is 41. Rock musician Scott Klopfenstein (Reel Big Fish) is 40. Actor Eric Christian Olsen is 40. Rock musician Andy Hurley (Fall Out Boy) is 37. Country singer Casey James (TV: “American Idol”) is 35. Actor Jonathan Tucker is 35. Rapper Waka Flocka Flame is 31. Actor Curtis Williams Jr. is 30. Pop singer Normani Hamilton (Fifth Harmony) is 21.

Thought for Today: “A conference is a gathering of important people who singly can do nothing, but together can decide that nothing can be done.” — Fred Allen, American comedian (born this date in 1894, died in 1956).

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