A Blast from the Past

By United Press International  |  Oct. 18, 2002 at 3:00 AM
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Today is Oct. 18.

In 2001, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge told a news conference that "thousands and thousands and thousands" of people had been tested for anthrax around the country but only a handful had tested positive for infection. FBI Director Robert Mueller meanwhile announced a million-dollar reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for sending anthrax-laden mail.

The "Wizard of Menlo Park" died on this date in 1931. Thomas Alva Edison, one of the most prolific inventors in history, was 84. His contribution to America's way of life was enormous, producing, among other things, the phonograph, the first practical incandescent light bulb, the first complete electrical distribution system for light and power, the world's first power plant, the alkaline battery and the first electric railroad.

Lee Harvey Oswald was born this date in 1929. President Kennedy's assumed assassin lived a troubled life and defected to the Soviet Union for a brief period -- only to decide to return to America. Both the FBI and the CIA had files on him for these reasons, which have helped to fuel the numerous conspiracies surrounding the Kennedy assassination.

This was a big day in the Watergate investigation. On this date in 1974, the jury in the Watergate cover-up trial heard a tape recording in which President Nixon told aide John Dean to try to stop the Watergate burglary investigation before it implicated White House personnel.

Ten years later, on this date in 1984, President Reagan ordered an investigation of a CIA handbook for Nicaraguan rebels that suggested assassination as a political tactic.

The border between Maryland and Pennsylvania was finally settled on this date in 1776. Named for its surveyors, the Mason-Dixon Line became the unofficial boundary between North and South for a century. Only after Maryland stayed with the Union during the Civil War did it begin to think of itself as a northern state.

It was on this date in 1993 that a Los Angeles jury acquitted two black defendants of most of the charges brought them in connection with the beating of white truck driver Reginald Denny. As violence erupted in South-Central L.A. in late April 1992 -- following the acquittal of four white police officers in the 1991 videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King -- Denny was dragged from his truck by rioters and almost killed. The attack was caught live by a TV news chopper.

And it was on this date in 1959 that the Soviet Union announced that an unmanned space vehicle had taken the first pictures of the far side of the moon.

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

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