A Blast from the Past

By United Press International   |   Oct. 15, 2002 at 3:00 AM
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Today is Oct. 15.

On this date in 2001, a package containing a substance believed to be anthrax was opened in the personal office of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., in the Hart Senate Office Building. As many as 40 workers in the office, which handles constituent services, underwent precautionary antibiotic treatment, police said.

In 1991 the Senate confirmed Judge Clarence Thomas as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by only four votes, 52-48, closest high court confirmation in history. He replaced retiring Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, becoming the second African American to sit on the high court. The vote came after three days of hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee into allegations of sexual harassment made against Thomas by former aide Anita Hill.

Mata Hari, the archetype of the seductive female spy, was executed by a firing squad outside Paris for World War I espionage on this date in 1917. Born in Holland in 1876 as Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, she first found fame in Paris in 1905 as an exotic dancer and as she toured Europe to packed houses, spread the story that she had been born in a sacred Indian temple and given the name of Mata Hari, meaning "eye of the day" by a priestess. Later, as a famous courtesan her weakness for men in uniform did her in, her lovers numbering several high ranking military officials of various nationalities and leading ultimately to her arrest as a spy.

Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev was ousted and replaced by Alexei Kosygin and Leonid Brezhnev on this date in 1964. The dual leadership was necessary because Khrushchev had not let any single man become powerful enough to challenge him. Eventually, Brezhnev became sole ruler, though.

And Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned to Haiti on this date in 1994 -- three years after being driven into exile by a military coup. The Haitian junta had been "persuaded" to relinquish power by the imminent arrival of a U.S. invasion force the previous month.

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

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