A Blast from the Past

By United Press International  |  Aug. 19, 2002 at 3:04 AM
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Today is Aug.19.

One of several incidents that eventually pulled the United States into World War I occurred on this date in 1915. As war was raging in Europe, a German U-boat torpedoed the British liner Lusitania in the Atlantic Ocean, killing hundreds of people, including two Americans.

A coalition of Soviet hardliner communists staged a coup on this date in 1991, detaining Soviet President Gorbachev at his vacation dacha in the Crimea. Gorbachev had been scheduled to return to Moscow the next day to sign a treaty that would've taken much power away from the central Soviet government and given it to the republics. While the coup failed three days later -- and its instigators arrested -- Gorbachev was left in a weakened position. The dissolution of the Soviet Union soon followed.

U-2 spy plane pilot Gary Powers, shot down and captured over Siberia, was convicted in a Moscow court and sentenced to 10 years in prison on this date in 1960. He was released 18 months later in exchange for Soviet spy Rudolf Abel.

Buildings in Perth, Australia, were rattled on this date in 1977 when one of the most powerful earthquakes in recorded history hit the eastern Indian Ocean between Australia and Indonesia -- 1,000 miles to the south.

The Navy frigate Constitution defeated the Britain's Guerriere in a furious battle on this date during the War of 1812 and earned its everlasting nickname of "Old Ironsides" when witnesses said the British shot seemed to bounce off its sides.

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

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