A Blast From The Past

By PENNY NELSON BARTHOLOMEW, United Press International   |   March 12, 2002 at 3:00 AM
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Today is March 12.

Yesterday, we told you how Mikhail Gorbachev became the last Soviet leader in 1985. In another milestone of the post-Communist era, it was on this date in 1999 that three former Soviet Bloc countries -- the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland -- formally joined NATO. They'd previously belonged to the Warsaw Pact, which was the Soviet-led rival of NATO.

Juliette Gordon Low organized the first Girl Scouts of America troop in Savannah, Ga., on this date in 1912. It's now the largest volunteer organization for girls and women in the world.

It was on this date in 1930 that Mahatma Gandhi began a campaign of civil disobedience against British rule in India. It took 17 years, but India finally declared its independence in August 1947. Gandhi did not long survive the founding of the Indian republic -- he was assassinated in January 1948.

Exxon pleaded guilty to criminal charges on this date in 1990 and agreed to pay $100 million fine in a $1.1 billion settlement of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Years after millions of barrels of oil fouled Prince William Sound in Alaska, the area still has not recovered.

Female hearts around the world were broken on this date in 1969 when Paul McCartney -- the last bachelor Beatle -- married photographer Linda Eastman in a civil ceremony in London. Paul's brother, Mike, was his best man. No other Beatles attended the wedding.

And in 1992, Jim and Tammy Bakker, who ran a multimillion-dollar television evangelism empire before Jim Bakker went to prison for fleecing his flock, announced they were divorcing. We don't know who got the mascara in the settlement.

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

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