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A Blast from the Past

By United Press International   |   Feb. 18, 2003 at 3:15 AM
Today is Feb. 24.


In the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics that wound up on this date in 2002, one that had more than its share of controversy including a far-reaching judging scandal in figure skating, the United States fared better than ever before in the Winter Games. U.S. athletes won 34 medals, 10 of them gold, and only one less than medals champion Germany.


Following an air campaign that lasted a little more than a month, forces led by the United States began a lightning, multi-pronged ground assault against Iraq on this date in 1991. What had been predicted as "the mother of all battles" lasted about 100 hours as the allies quickly subdued Iraqi troops and liberated Kuwait City which Iraq had invaded the previous August.


The National Socialist party -- forerunner of the Nazi party later led by Adolf Hitler -- was founded on this date in 1920 by a group of Germans.


It was the greatest loss ever reported by a U.S. company. On this date in 1992, General Motors Corp. announced a record $4.5 billion loss in 1991 and said it would close 21 plants and idle 74,000 workers in the next four years.


Also in 1992, the U.S. Postal Service unveiled two designs for a commemorative stamp honoring Elvis Presley -- one showing him as young rock-and-roll singer, the other at the height of his success in Las Vegas. In voting, the public chose the lean '50s-era Elvis over the older, fatter one. The stamp was issued on Jan. 8, 1993, on the anniversary of "The King's" birth.


And rock veteran Eric Clapton took home seven Grammy Awards on this date in 1993 for his emotion-packed "Tears In Heaven" -- written about his dead 4-year-old son -- and the bluesy "Layla."


We now return you to the present, already in progress.

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Today is Feb. 25.


This is the anniversary of the Hebron massacre. On this date in 1994, 29 Muslim worshippers were killed and three more trampled to death when an American-born Jewish settler opened fire with an automatic rifle inside the Cave of the Patriarchs in the West Bank town of Hebron. The settler was overpowered and beaten to death. The assault triggered widespread violent demonstrations by Palestinians.


President Andrew Johnson became the first U.S. president to be impeached on this date in 1868 when the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach him for violation of the Tenure of Office Act. He was acquitted of the charges the following May.


Changes in leadership:

On this day in 1986, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos left his Manila palace for Hawaii, ending 20 years in power. The United States recognized Corazon Aquino as president of the Philippines.

And in 1990, U.S.-backed opposition presidential candidate Violeta Chamorro won an upset victory over President Daniel Ortega, leader of the leftist Sandinista Liberation Front.


In a different kind of leadership change, 22-year-old Cassius Clay, later known as Muhammad Ali, upset the odds by scoring a seventh round TKO over Sonny Liston to win the world heavyweight championship on this date in 1964.


Samuel Colt patented a "revolving gun" on this date in 1836. It was the first of the six-shooters.


And in 1994, 16-year-old Oksana Baiul of Ukraine won the gold medal in the women's figure skating competition at the winter Olympics in Norway. Nancy Kerrigan of the United States took the silver, competing despite having been injured in an attack a little more than a month earlier. Her rival, Tonya Harding, placed eighth.


We now return you to the present, already in progress.

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Today is Feb. 26.


The first attack on the World Trade Center in New York City took place on this date in 1993. Six people were killed and more than 1,000 more injured when a van packed with explosives blew up in the parking garage beneath the twin towers. The bomb left a crater 200 feet wide and several stories deep. 15 people -- a fundamentalist Muslim cleric and 14 of his followers -- were later indicted in connection with the bombing and given sentences ranging from life to up to 240 years each. It later turned out they had ties with the terrorist organization al Qaida and its founder, Osama bin Laden, accused of masterminding the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon that killed about 3,000 people.


Some 20,000 people were killed when an earthquake rocked Lisbon, Portugal, on this date in 1531.


Military history:

Napoleon Bonaparte and 1,200 men escaped exile on the Mediterranean island of Elba on this date in 1815 to return to power in France. It only lasted about 100 days. Napoleon would meet his Waterloo that June and be exiled again -- this time to far-away St. Helena in the South Atlantic.

On this date in 1935, Germany began operation of its Air Force, the Luftwaffe, under Reichmarshal Hermann Goering. Hitler secretly authorized its creation despite the World War I ending Versailles Treaty that prohibited military aviation in Germany.

And U.S. Marines entered Kuwait City as Iraqi troops retreated on this day in 1991.


Oprah Winfrey beat a group of Texas cattlemen on this date in 1998 when a federal jury in Amarillo ruled in favor of the talk-show host in a lawsuit filed against her by the ranchers. They said she caused beef prices to fall with her 1996 program about "mad cow" disease.


We now return you to the present, already in progress.

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Today is Feb. 27.


U.S.-led allied forces liberated Kuwait City on this date in 1991, only days after launching a ground assault against occupying Iraqi troops. President Bush declared Kuwait liberated and then ordered a halt to all military operations in the Gulf War. The end of the ground fighting came 100 hours after the beginning of the land battle.


It was on this date in 1933 that Adolf Hitler's Nazis set fire to the German parliament building in Berlin. Hitler then blamed the fire on the communists and made that an excuse to suspend German civil liberties and freedom of the press.


Remember the Atlanta child murders? On this date in 1982, a jury convicted a seemingly mild-mannered young man named Wayne Williams of murdering two of the 28 black children and young people whose bodies had been found in Atlanta over a two-year period. Williams was sentenced to life in prison.


The opening salvos were fired in the Battle of the Java Sea on this date in 1942 during the dark, early days of U.S. involvement in World War II. The Americans lost 13 warships to the Japanese, who only lost two.


The Italian government asked for suggestions on this date in 1964 on how to save a national treasure. The renowned Leaning Tower of Pisa was leaning too much and in danger of collapse. The top of the 180-foot tower was hanging 17 feet south of the base, and studies showed that the tilt was increasing by a fraction every year.


Billboard magazine reported on this date in 1955 that, for the first time, the recently introduced 7-inch 45-rpm single had outsold the heavier 10-inch 78-rpm.


And in 1992, Elizabeth Taylor celebrated her 60th birthday by closing Disneyland for an elaborate private party with her celebrity friends. Ah, the perks of movie-stardom!


We now return you to the present, already in progress.

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Today is Feb. 28.


The Branch Davidian standoff began on this date in 1993 when federal agents attempted to serve warrants on the religious cult's compound near Waco, Texas. They were met with a hail of bullets that left at least five dead and 15 wounded and marked the start of a month-and-a-half-long standoff. The siege ended April 19 when -- after authorities fired tear gas into the compound -- the building caught fire, killing more than 80 people, including cult leader David Koresh.


A pleasant cruise on the Potomac River to demonstrate the latest in naval weaponry turned tragic on this day in 1844 when an explosion rocked the newly built "war steamer" USS Princeton after it test-fired one of its guns. The resulting blast killed or wounded a number of people, including several U.S. government officials who were aboard. President John Tyler narrowly escaped death.


On this date in 1986, Olof Palme, the popular prime minister of Sweden, was assassinated on a street in Stockholm as he left a movie theater with his wife. Palme eschewed the protection of bodyguards and used to walk the streets like an ordinary citizen.


In NATO's first military action in its 45-year history, U.S. fighter planes shot down four Serbian warplanes engaged in a bombing mission in violation of Bosnia's no-fly zone on this date in 1994.


And "M*A*S*H" wrapped up its 11-season run with a two-and-a-half-hour series finale on this date in 1983. The concluding episode drew what was then the largest television audience in U.S. history -- 70 percent of the viewing public watched.


We now return you to the present, already in progress.

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Today is March 1.


The 20-month-old son of Charles and Anna Morrow Lindbergh was kidnapped from their home in Hopewell, N.J., on this date in 1932. The famed aviator paid a $50,000 ransom for the boy's return, but the child's body was found May 12th, less than five miles from the family home. Bruno Hauptmann was arrested, convicted and executed for the crime in 1936.


The Articles of Confederation -- the compact made among the 13 American colonies -- was declared by the Congress to have been ratified on this date in 1781. It remained the supreme law of the nation until the U.S. Constitution went into effect in March 1789.


President John F. Kennedy signed an executive order on this date in 1961, establishing the Peace Corps.


Puerto Rican nationalists opened fire from the gallery of the House of Representatives, wounding five members of Congress, on this date in 1954. Exactly 17 years later, on this date in 1971, a bomb exploded in a restroom in the Senate wing of the Capitol, causing some $300,000 damage but no injuries. The Weather Underground, a leftist radical group that opposed the Vietnam war, claimed responsibility.


And on this date in 1952, Sam Phillips' new Memphis-based label Sun Records released its first single -- "Drivin' Slow" by Johnny London. The alto sax duet went nowhere.


We now return you to the present, already in progress.

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Today is March 2.


Violence in the Middle East continued to escalate on this date in 2002. Israeli ground forces invaded Palestinian refugee camps over a three-day period, killing 30 people. In Jerusalem, meanwhile, a suicide bomber killed himself and nine others.


It was on this date in 1836 that Texas proclaimed its independence from Mexico. Delegates to the convention chose David Burnet as provisional president, confirmed Sam Houston as the commander in chief of all Texan forces and adopted a pro-slavery constitution. Meanwhile, in San Antonio, Mexican Commander Santa Anna's siege of the Alamo continued as the fort's 185 or so American defenders waited for the final Mexican assault.


It was a first step toward involvement -- covert and otherwise -- in a bloody, drawn-out civil war. On this day in 1981, the United States announced it was sending 20 military advisers and $25 million in equipment to El Salvador.


Around the world in 94 hours: in 1949, a U.S. Air Force plane piloted by Capt. James Gallagher completed the first non-stop around-the-world flight in just over 94 hours. Today it only SEEMS that some flights are that long.


Paul McCartney shot down more rumors of a Beatles reunion when, on this date in 1996, he denied reports that the surviving Beatles were considering reuniting for a 22-city tour that'd pay them $225 million.


We now return you to the present, already in progress.

© 2003 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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