A Blast from the Past

By United Press International   |   Oct. 8, 2002 at 3:15 AM   |   0 comments

Today is Oct. 14.


On the day Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, violence flared anew in the Middle East. The kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by Palestinian extremists ended with the soldier and four others being killed in a shootout.


Thirty years earlier, on this date in 1964, the Nobel Peace Prize went to African-American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for his nonviolent resistance to racial prejudice in America. At 35 years of age, the Georgia-born minister was the youngest person ever to receive the award.


The Norman invasion of England was capped on this date in 1066, when the invading forces -- led by William, Duke of Normandy -- defeated England's King Harold at the Battle of Hastings. Crowned King William I, he's known to history as William the Conqueror.


Three years of occupation of Greece by the forces of Nazi Germany ended on this date in 1944, when British and Greek troops liberated Athens.


Former President Theodore Roosevelt was one tough dude. On this date in 1912, he was shot while campaigning in Milwaukee for a return to the White House. T.R. refused to have the wound treated until he finished his speech.


24-year-old Air Force Capt. Chuck Yeager -- flying a Bell X-1 -- became the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound on this day in 1947. The event took place in the skies high above the California desert and Edwards Air Force Base.


On this date in 1992 the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Oakland A's, 4 games to 2, to win the American League pennant and become the first Canadian team to go to the World Series. The Jays went on to win the championship.


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Today is Oct. 15.


It was on this date in 1991 that the Senate confirmed Judge Clarence Thomas as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by only four votes, 52-48, closest high court confirmation in history. He replaced retiring Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, becoming the second African American to sit on the high court. The vote came after three days of hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee into allegations of sexual harassment made against Thomas by former aide Anita Hill.


Mata Hari, the archetype of the seductive female spy, was executed by a firing squad outside Paris for World War I espionage on this date in 1917. Born in Holland in 1876 as Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, she first found fame in Paris in 1905 as an exotic dancer and as she toured Europe to packed houses, spread the story that she had been born in a sacred Indian temple and given the name of Mata Hari, meaning "eye of the day" by a priestess. Later, as a famous courtesan, her weakness for men in uniform did her in, her lovers numbering several high ranking military officials of various nationalities and leading ultimately to her arrest as a spy.


Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev was ousted and replaced by Alexei Kosygin and Leonid Brezhnev on this date in 1964. The dual leadership was necessary because Khrushchev had not let any single man become powerful enough to challenge him. Eventually, Brezhnev became sole ruler, though.


And Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned to Haiti on this date in 1994 -- three years after being driven into exile by a military coup. The Haitian junta had been "persuaded" to relinquish power by the imminent arrival of a U.S. invasion force the previous month.


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Today is Oct. 16.

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The worst mass shooting in U.S. history took place on this date in 1991, when George Hennard drove his pickup truck through the front window of Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, and --- after getting out of the truck -- methodically killed 22 people. He then took his own life.


In Nuremberg, Germany, on this date in 1946, 10 high-ranking Nazi officers, the German air force, were executed by hanging for their crimes against humanity, crimes against peace and war crimes during War II. Also scheduled to die was Hermann Goering, founder of the Gestapo and chief of the German air force, but he cheated the hangman by committing suicide on the eve of his execution. Ten others, including Rudolf Hess, Hitler's former deputy, drew prison sentences. Hess got life.


As terror raged in revolutionary France, Queen Marie Antoinette fell victim to the guillotine on this date in 1783. She died nine months after the execution of her husband, the former King Louis XVI. Marie Antoinette, by the way, in speaking of her hungry subjects, never said, "Let them eat cake." That remark has been attributed to an unidentified female member of French royalty at a time when Marie was too young to have been the one to say it -- or anything else.


It was on this date in 1859 that abolitionist John Brown led an abortive raid on the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Va., which is upstream from Washington, D.C., where the Shenandoah River meets the Potomac River. Brown was later convicted of treason and hanged.


Yale University was founded on this date in 1701 by Congregationalists who didn't like the growing liberalism at Harvard. Originally known as The Collegiate School and located in Branford, Conn., it was moved in 1716 to New Haven, where it was renamed Yale College after Elihu Yale, a governor of the East India Company. Yale became a university in 1887.


Margaret Sanger and two other women, on this date in 1916, opened the nation's first birth control clinic in Brooklyn, N.Y.


On this date in 1995, hundreds of thousands of black men from across the nation gathered at the Mall in Washington, D.C., to take part in the "Million Man March," which had been organized by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Marchers pledged to take responsibility for themselves, their family and their community.


And America's first department store opened in Salt Lake City, Utah, on this date in 1868. ZCMI (Zion's Co-Operative Mercantile Institution) was founded under the direction of Morman leader Brigham Young. The store is still open.


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Today is Oct. 17.


Just as baseball fans were settling in for Game Three of the 1989 World Series in San Francisco between the Giants and the Oakland A's, the most powerful California earthquake since the legendary temblor of 1906 struck the Bay Area on this date in 1989. The quake hit at the height of evening rush hour, and registered 7.1 on the Richter scale. At least 67 people were killed or eventually died of injuries. Many of them had been caught in the collapse of the double-decked Interstate 80 in Oakland.


Arab-dominated OPEC -- the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries -- announced a decision on this date in 1973 to cut oil exports to the United States and other nations that provided military aid to Israel in the Yom Kippur War. OPEC said exports would be reduced by 5 percent every month until Israel evacuated the territories occupied in the Arab-Israeli war of 1967. In December, a full oil embargo was imposed against the United States and several other countries, prompting a serious energy crisis in the U.S. and other nations dependent on foreign oil.


America's first published black poet was born on this date in 1711. Jupiter Hammon was born into slavery, probably on Long Island, N.Y. He was taught to read, however, and was allowed to use his master's library. His 88-line poem, "An Evening Thought," was published on Christmas Day 1760. The anniversary of his birth is celebrated as Black Poetry Day.


It was on this date in 1998, by request of Spanish authorities, that British police arrested former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet for questioning about "crimes of genocide and terrorism that include murder." Pinochet had been in London for back surgery. His lawyers argued that their client was immune to prosecution of crime committed while he was head of state. The case dragged on for more than a year, until British authorities finally relented and let Pinochet return to Chile.


The civil trial of the wrongful death lawsuit filed against O.J. Simpson by the relatives of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, began on this date in 1996 in Los Angeles. The Brown and Goldman families said the former football star was responsible for their 1994 slayings, and in February, 1997, the jury agreed and awarded them a judgment of $33.5 million.


"This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius..." On this date in 1967, the rock musical "Hair" opened at the Public Theater in New York City.


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Today is Oct. 18.


The "Wizard of Menlo Park" died on this date in 1931. Thomas Alva Edison, one of the most prolific inventors in history, was 84. His contribution to America's way of life was enormous, producing, among other things, the phonograph, the first practical incandescent light bulb, the first complete electrical distribution system for light and power, the world's first power plant, the alkaline battery and the first electric railroad.


Lee Harvey Oswald was born this date in 1929. President Kennedy's assumed assassin lived a troubled life and defected to the Soviet Union for a brief period -- only to decide to return to America. Both the FBI and the CIA had files on him for these reasons, which have helped to fuel the numerous conspiracies surrounding the Kennedy assassination.


This was a big day in the Watergate investigation. On this date in 1974, the jury in the Watergate cover-up trial heard a tape recording in which President Nixon told aide John Dean to try to stop the Watergate burglary investigation before it implicated White House personnel.

Exactly 10 years later, on this date in 1984, President Reagan ordered an investigation of a CIA handbook for Nicaraguan rebels that suggested assassination as a political tactic.


The border between Maryland and Pennsylvania was finally settled on this date in 1776. Named for its surveyors, the Mason-Dixon Line became the unofficial boundary between North and South for a century. Only after Maryland stayed with the Union during the Civil War did it begin to think of itself as a northern state.


It was on this date in 1993 that a Los Angeles jury acquitted two black defendants of most of the charges brought them in connection with the beating of white truck driver Reginald Denny. As violence erupted in South-Central L.A. in late April 1992 -- following the acquittal of four white police officers in the 1991 videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King -- Denny was dragged from his truck by rioters and almost killed. The attack was caught live by a TV news chopper.


And it was on this date in 1959 that the Soviet Union announced that an unmanned space vehicle had taken the first pictures of the far side of the moon.


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Today is Oct. 19.


The American Revolution was, in effect, won on this day in 1781 when Britain's Lord Cornwallis surrendered with more than 7,000 troops to Gen. George Washington at Yorktown, Va. There were no more major battles, but the provisional peace treaty wasn't signed until Nov. 30, 1782 and the final Treaty of Paris on Sept. 3, 1783.


It was on this date in 1812 that Napoleon's beaten French army began its long retreat from Moscow. Napoleon had roared into Russia with a huge force at his command but by the time they reached what was then a burning and deserted Moscow, his men were starving and the brutal Russian winter was at hand. Their hasty retreat turned into a costly disaster.


Carmaker John DeLorean was arrested in Los Angeles on this date in 1982 and charged in a $24 million cocaine scheme aimed at salvaging his bankrupt sports car company in Northern Ireland. He was tried and acquitted. Today, DeLorean's stainless steel, gullwing-door sports cars are a hot commodity at auto shows.


Lots of people lost their shirts --- and more --- on this date in 1987, when the New York stock market suffered its biggest ever setback, with the bellwether Dow Jones Industrial Average nose-diving 508 points in one session.


And it was on this date in 1993 that Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto --- the first female leader of a Muslim nation -- was re-elected prime minister.


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Today is Oct. 20.


On this date in 2000, testimony by a former Army sergeant, who had pleaded guilty to taking part in a terrorist plot against Americans, directly linked Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden to the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya.


The Saturday Night Massacre, a dramatic turning point in the Watergate scandal, took place on this date in 1973. The White House announced President Nixon had fired special Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox, who had made the mistake of asking Nixon for some tapes he had been keeping in his office. In response, Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus resigned in protest. The firing and resignations sparked widespread calls for Nixon's impeachment, which were not stilled until he resigned in August 1974.


It was on this date in 1947 that the House Un-American Activities Committee opened public hearings into communist influence in Hollywood. It was a time of witch hunts, the red scare and Communists hiding under the bed.


The world's worst soccer disaster occurred in Moscow on this date in 1982. An estimated 340 sports fans were crushed to death in an open staircase during a game between Soviet and Dutch players. Details of the event, blaming police for the tragedy, were not published in the Soviet Union until seven years later, in July 1989.


Actor Bela Lugosi was born on this date in 1882 in Hungary. Best known for his role as the vampire count in "Dracula," Lugosi's heavy accent limited him to mostly B-movies. He died in 1956 during the filming of Ed Wood's cinematic low-point "Plan Nine from Outer Space" and reportedly was buried wearing his Dracula cape.


It was on this date in 1818 that the United States and Britain agreed to establish the 49th parallel as the official boundary between the United States and Canada.


As U.S. forces fled the Phillipines to escape the advancing Japanese in 1942, Gen. Douglas MacArthur promised to return. On this date in 1944, he kept his promise when he landed with American troops during the closing days of World War II.


And it was on this date in 1990 that the rap group 2 Live Crew was acquitted in Miami of obscenity charges arising from a performance of selections from their album "As Nasty As They Wanna Be."


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© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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