A Blast From The Past

By PENNY NELSON BARTHOLOMEW, United Press International  |  Jan. 15, 2002 at 6:15 AM
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Today is Jan. 21.

Monica Lewinsky's 15 minutes of fame began on this date in 1998, when newspapers began reporting on the allegations that the former White House intern had had an affair with President Clinton. A few days earlier, in a sworn deposition taken as part of the sexual harassment lawsuit filed against the president by former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones, Clinton denied having sex with Lewinsky. It was that denial that formed the basis of the impeachment charges brought against the president later in the year.

A senator from Mississippi named Jefferson Davis resigned from Congress on this date in 1861. A dozen days later, Mississippi would secede from the Union and Davis, of course, would go on to become the president of the Confederacy.

French King Louis XVI was executed in Paris on this date in 1792. Executed means -- beheaded.

It was on this date in 1994 that Lorena Bobbitt was found innocent by reason of insanity in the June 1993 attack on her husband, John. She had cut off his penis while he slept. The organ was surgically reattached, and John Bobbitt went on to make some X-rated movies to show that it worked just fine.

President Carter pardoned American Vietnam War-era draft evaders on this date in 1977. He also ordered a case-by-case study of deserters.

The world's first nuclear-powered submarine, the Nautilus, was launched at Groton, Conn., on this date in 1954.

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

Today is Jan. 22.

It was on this date in 1771 that Spain signed papers handing Britain control of the Falklands, a collection of islands in the south Atlantic where sheep outnumber people. Argentina has been claiming the Falklands ever since -- and fought a war to reclaim them in 1982. It lost. Argentina's ruling junta was thrown out as a result and today Argentina is a democracy. By the way, Argentinians do not call the islands the Falklands. They call them the Malvinas.

The Gulf War had one of its bloodiest moments on this date in 1991, when Iraq launched its third and worst Scud missile attack against Israel. 98 people were injured. Three more died of heart attacks.

This is an important anniversary in World War II. American troops invaded Italy to outflank German defensive positions on this date in 1944. That was the landing at Anzio.

This is the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. On this date in 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state laws restricting abortions during the first six months of pregnancy.

A year after being captured in his remote Montana cabin, accused UNAbomber Ted Kaczynski on this date in 1998 pleaded guilty to all counts against him in California and New Jersey. He was sentenced to life in prison on May 4.

On this date in 1987, 27-year-old Glen Tremml pedaled an ultralight aircraft over California's Edwards Air Force Base to set a world record for human-powered flight -- more than 37 miles.

And Queen Victoria died on this date in 1901. She had reigned for 64 years.

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

Today is Jan. 23.

Congress decided to hold all national elections on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November, on THIS date in 1845 -- perhaps farther into America's history than you might have assumed.

On this date in 1948, a popular World War II general said he could not accept a presidential nomination from either party. Four years later, in 1952, Dwight Eisenhower did accept the Republican nomination -- and was elected.

It was on this date in 1973 that President Nixon announced that U.S. troops would cease fighting in Vietnam at midnight Jan. 27.

And it was a cold day in Alaska on this date in 1971. The temperature at Prospect Creek dropped to 80 degrees BELOW ZERO. That's the lowest temperature ever recorded in the United States.

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

Today is Jan. 24.

It was on this date in 1995 that opening statements began in the double-murder trial of O.J. Simpson in Los Angeles. The trial -- presided over by Judge Ito -- was nothing less than a media circus. The jury would acquit the former football star in October.

More courtroom drama a year earlier, in 1994, when a federal judge upheld a subpoena from the Senate Ethics Committee for the diaries of Sen. Bob Packwood, R-Ore., who was facing allegations of sexual harassment and other possible misconduct. Packwood would eventually resign from the Senate.

A scandal of Olympic proportions. In 1999, the International Olympic Committee voted to expel six IOC members in the wake of charges that committee members had accepted money and other compensation from officials whose cities were bidding to host the Olympic games. They included Sydney, Australia, site of the 2000 summer games; and Salt Lake City, Utah, where the 2002 winter games will be held.

There's gold in them thar hills! In 1848, gold was discovered accidentally by an employee of John Sutter while building a sawmill near Sacramento, Calif. They tried to keep the find a secret -- but the word got out, sparking the great gold rush of 1849.

On this date in 1987, some 20,000 civil rights activists held a "brotherhood" march in all-white Cumming, Ga., population 2800. It was the South's largest civil rights demonstration since the 1960s. The march came one week after 400 Ku Klux Klan supporters disrupted a civil rights march by 75 people in Cumming.

And a milestone for beer-lovers everywhere: on this date in 1935, beer was sold in cans for the first time -- in Richmond, Va. It was now possible to chug a beer and then smash the can against your forehead.

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

Today is Jan. 25.

As the Gulf War raged on, a huge oil slick began to form in the Persian Gulf on this date in 1991 as Iraqi forces sabotaged Kuwaiti oil terminals. The United States called it an "act of environmental terrorism" by Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein.

Charles Manson and three women -- members of his so-called "family" -- were found guilty in the murders of actress Sharon Tate and six other people in Los Angeles on this date in 1971. Manson was initially sentenced to death, but that death sentence was later overturned and he was sentenced to life in prison.

Around the world in less than 80 days: it was on this date in 1890 that Nellie Bly, a young New York reporter, completed a trip around the world in the then-astounding time of 72 days, six hours and 11 minutes.

Some firsts on this date:

In 1915, transcontinental phone service was inaugurated in a hookup between New York and San Francisco.

In 1959, American Airlines flew the first scheduled non-stop transcontinental flight from California to New York.

And in 1961, John F. Kennedy held the first televised presidential news conference -- five days after being inaugurated as president. The tradition of televised presidential news conferences survives to this day.

And it was on this date in 1993 that Sears Roebuck & Co. announced it was shutting down its pioneering catalog operation. It was the end of an era -- and marked the demise of jokes about using pages from the Sears catalog as toilet paper.

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

Today is Jan. 26.

In response to allegations that he'd had an affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, President Clinton declared on this date in 1998 that: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." Later, he'd admit to having an improper relationship with Lewinsky but that he didn't think oral sex was "sexual relations" in the strictest sense.

On this date in 1993, a federal court jury in Midland, Texas, awarded $200,000 to a San Antonio man who claimed actress Zsa Zsa Gabor reneged on a contract to spend a weekend mingling with "ordinary people" who'd paid money for the privilege.

In a letter to his daughter dated Jan. 26, 1784, Benjamin Franklin expressed unhappiness with the choice of the eagle as the symbol of America. He said he preferred the turkey. This was a time when turkeys were smart birds that lived in the wild and not the stupid things bred for Thanksgiving dinner.

It was on this date in 1788 that the first shipload of British convicts arrived in Australia -- eventually settling at what would become the city of Sydney. The establishment of an Australian prison colony was aimed at relieving overcrowding in British prisons.

And in 1950, India ceased to be a British dominion and became the Republic of India. It was a goal set back in 1929 when the Indian National Congress resolved to work for the establishment of a republic.

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

Today is Jan. 27.

Three American astronauts -- "Gus" Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee -- died when fire broke out aboard the Apollo-1 spacecraft during a launch simulation at Florida's Kennedy Space Center on this date in 1967. The first launch of the Apollo program had been scheduled for just a month later. Despite the setback, the United States still managed to put a man on the moon just 2 1/2 years later.

In 1973, the United States and North Vietnam signed a cease-fire agreement -- thus ending the U.S. combat role in the war. The same day, the United States announced an end to the military draft.

Iran-Contra news: in 1987, President Reagan acknowledged mistakes and accepted responsibility in the Iran arms scandal. He said his only major regret was that the gamble failed to open political channels and free American hostages in Lebanon.

Seven years later, in 1994, Iran-Contra scandal figure Oliver North declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination for U.S. senator from Virginia. He would win the nomination but lose the election to Democratic incumbent Charles Robb.

Also in 1994, Tonya Harding announced she knew several days after the attack on rival ice skater Nancy Kerrigan that "persons that were close to" her were involved, but didn't tell authorities right away.

Let there be light. It was on this date in 1880 that Thomas Edison was granted a patent for an electric incandescent lamp.

And just days after his murder trial began in Los Angeles in 1995, a book by O.J. Simpson, "I Want to Tell You," was published. In it, the former football star asserted his innocence in the killings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

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

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