Blast from the Past

By United Press International  |  June 11, 2002 at 3:44 AM
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Today is June 17.

The Watergate scandal began on this date in 1972 with the arrest of five burglars inside Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. The incident led to revelations of political espionage and cover-ups, spawned Congressional hearings and threats of impeachment -- and on Aug. 9, 1974, the resignation of President Nixon.

No presidential scandal since has matched Watergate's drama -- although Monica-Gate came pretty close, huh?

Los Angeles police, on this date in 1994, formally charged O.J. Simpson with killing his ex-wife and her friend. Simpson had arranged to turn himself in but instead fled. He later led police on a slow-speed, nationally televised chase that saw people gathered on overpasses, waving homemade signs of support as the white sport utility vehicle drove by -- trailed by dozens of police cars. The chase ended at Simpson's Los Angeles home, where he surrendered.

Illicit drug use by athletes made headlines on this date in 1986, when University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias dropped dead from cocaine intoxication.

And apartheid ended in South Africa on this date in 1991 when the country's president, F.W. de Klerk, repealed the Population Registration Act that classified South Africans by race from birth.

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


Today is June 18.

Today was Napoleon's "Waterloo," so to speak. On this date in 1815, the forces of England's Duke of Wellington and Prussian Field Marshal Gebhard von Blucher defeated Napoleon and his troops near Waterloo in central Belgium. Napoleon later surrendered to British authorities and was exiled to St. Helena, an island in the South Atlantic, where he would die in May 1821.

The War of 1812 began on this date in 1812 -- duh! -- when Congress issued a declaration of war against Britain. The action was prompted by Britain's violation of American rights on the high seas and also its incitement of Indian warfare on the U.S frontier.

Equal rights finally reached the U.S. space program on this date in 1983 with the launch of the shuttle Challenger and its crew of four men and one WOMAN. Sally Ride, 32, was the first American woman in space. The shuttle mission lasted six days.

And Unabomber suspect Theodore Kaczynski, on this date in 1996, was charged with two murders in California. He pleaded innocent. The former college professor had been arrested April 3 at his Montana cabin in connection with the string of bombings that'd killed three people over a 20-year period. Kaczynski would later change his plea to guilty as part of a deal to avoid the death penalty.

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


Today is June 19.

This is the anniversary of the only married couple ever executed together in the United States. On this date in 1953, convicted spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were electrocuted at Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, N.Y. The time of their execution was pushed forward by several hours as to avoid conflict with the Jewish Sabbath.

It was on this date in 1987 that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the 1981 Louisiana law that required schools in the state to teach "Creationism," or the creationist theory of human origin.

In the early years of the United States, the newly formed country was governed by something known as the "Articles of Confederation," in which states' rights were supreme over that of a centralized government. Realizing that wasn't working, on this date in 1787, delegates to the U.S. Constitutional Convention voted to strike down the Articles and form a new government. They ended up writing a new Constitution, too.

The early Christian church opened the general council of Nicaea on this date in 325. The meeting settled on the rules for computing the date on which Easter would be celebrated each year.

The first seeds of organized baseball were planted on this date in 1846 when two amateur baseball teams played under new rules at Hoboken, N.J. The New York Nine beat the Knickerbockers, 23-1.

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


Today is June 20.

A landmark settlement was announced on this date in 1997. Four major U.S. tobacco companies and several state attorneys general, after months of negotiations, agreed to a $368.5 billion settlement to recover the costs of smoking-related illnesses.

It was on this date in 1898 during the Spanish-American War that the U.S. Navy seized Guam, the largest of the Mariana Islands in the Pacific. Actually, it wasn't all that tough: the Spanish commander of Guam, unaware until then that there was a war going on and having no ammunition, surrendered. The people of Guam were granted U.S. citizenship in 1950.

The United States and the Soviet Union agreed on this date in 1963 to establish a hot line communications link between Washington, D.C., and Moscow.

And O.J. Simpson pleaded "100 percent not guilty" to charges he murdered his ex-wife and her friend on this date in 1994. Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman had been stabbed and slashed to death outside her Los Angeles condo a week earlier. O.J. would later be acquitted in a highly publicized criminal trial.

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


Today is June 21.

It was on this date in 1982 that John Hinckley Jr. was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the March 1981 shooting and wounding of President Reagan and three other people. He was ordered confined to a Washington, D.C., mental hospital, where he remains.

The Battle of Okinawa, which began on April 1, 1945, ended on this date, two and a half months later, when the Japanese defenders of Okinawa Island surrendered to American troops. Almost 14,000 U.S. troops, more than 70,000 Japanese and 80,000 civilian Okinawans died in the course of the battle.

A couple of days ago, we mentioned the U.S. Constitutional Convention sitting down to form a new U.S. government. It was on this date in 1788 that the U.S. Constitution they wrote went into effect when New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify it.

And the 40-year search for Dr. Josef Mengele -- the so-called "angel of death" of the Auschwitz concentration camp -- ended on this date in 1985, when international experts in Sao Paulo, Brazil, conclusively identified the bones of a 1979 drowning victim as the remains of the Nazi war criminal. Mengele had conducted horrific experiments on Auschwitz inmates -- thus earning his grisly nickname.

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


Today is June 22.

A couple of World War II milestones. It was on this date in 1940 that France fell to Germany. You've seen the now-infamous photograph of Hitler dancing to celebrate the Nazi occupation of Paris. And exactly a year later, in 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union.

In one of the many events that led to the War of 1812: it was on this date in 1807 that the U.S frigate Chesapeake was fired upon and then boarded by the crew of the British man-of-war Leopold. The incident took place just off the U.S coast, about 40 miles east of Chesapeake Bay. The captain of the Chesapeake was later court-martialed for not being prepared for action.

President Nixon and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, on this date in 1973, signed a pledge to try to avoid nuclear war. It must've worked: we haven't had a nuclear war since.

It was on this date in 1918 that 53 circus performers were killed when an empty troop train, on its way back to Chicago, smashed into the rear of the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus train, which was stopped in Ivanhoe, Ind., to repair its brakes. The troop train's engineer was later tried and acquitted of charges of falling asleep at the throttle.

And John Mitchell became the first former U.S. attorney general to go to jail, on this date in 1977, when he entered a federal prison to serve time for Watergate crimes.

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


Today is June 23.

It was the world's worst commercial air disaster at sea. On this date in 1985, an Air India Boeing 747 that had taken off from Toronto, Canada, crashed off the Irish coast -- killing all 329 people aboard.

The United States grew a whole lot bigger on this date in 1845. That's when the Congress of the Republic of Texas - having fought to free itself from Mexico -- agreed to annexation by the United States.

The last formal surrender of Confederate troops took place on this date in 1865 -- almost two-and-a-half months after the end of the Civil War. Cherokee leader and Confederate Brig. Gen. Walte surrendered the command of a battalion formed of Indians. News traveled much slower in those days.

And on this date in 1992, scientists announced that the largest study of its kind had found that eating a large bowl of oat bran cereal each day led to a "modest" drop in cholesterol.

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

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