A Blast from the Past

By United Press International  |  Sept. 24, 2002 at 3:08 AM
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Today is Sept. 24.

The U.S. Supreme Court was born on this date in 1789 when the Judiciary Act was passed by Congress and signed by President George Washington. It set up a court consisting of six justices who were to serve on the tribunal until death or retirement. The number was expanded to nine in 1869.

It was on this date in 1929 that aviator James Doolittle, later of World War II fame, demonstrated the first "blind" take-off and landing, using only instruments to guide his aircraft. It became standard procedure in all commercial and military aircraft.

President Eisenhower suffered a heart attack on this date in 1955 while vacationing in Colorado. Despite that, Eisenhower was re-elected to a second term the following year.

In a speech at the United Nations, South African black leader Nelson Mandela -- on this date in 1993 -- called for the lifting of remaining international economic sanctions against South Africa. Pretoria was taking important steps away from the state-sanctioned racial separation known as "apartheid." Within a year, Mandela would be elected the country's first-ever black president in an election in which everyone, regardless of race, could vote.

And it was on this date in 1998 that Iran's foreign minister announced that Iran had dropped its 1989 call for the death of Salman Rushdie, author of "The Satanic Verses," which many Muslims found blasphemous. The Ayatollah had offered a $1 million reward to anyone carrying out the death sentence, sending the writer into hiding.

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

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