A Blast from the Past

By United Press International  |  Oct. 20, 2002 at 3:00 AM
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Today is Oct. 20.

In the fall of 2001, that mysterious white powder kept showing up at points across the globe as the anthrax scare hit its peak. Reports of letters with white powder possibly containing anthrax, nearly all false alarms so far, spread from the U.S. and Japan to Pakistan, Lebanon, Kenya and France. In Washington, where anthrax had been found, Congress, partially closed for three days, said it would resume work on Monday.

On this date in 2000, testimony by a former Army sergeant, who had pleaded guilty to taking part in a terrorist plot against Americans, directly linked Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden to the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Saturday Night Massacre, a dramatic turning point in the Watergate scandal, took place on this date in 1973. The White House announced President Nixon had fired special Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox, who had made the mistake of asking Nixon for some tapes he had been keeping in his office. In response, Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus resigned in protest. The firing and resignations sparked widespread calls for Nixon's impeachment, which were not stilled until he resigned in August 1974.

It was on this date in 1947 that the House Un-American Activities Committee opened public hearings into communist influence in Hollywood. It was a time of witch hunts, the red scare and Communists hiding under the bed.

The world's worst soccer disaster occurred in Moscow on this date in 1982. An estimated 340 sports fans were crushed to death in an open staircase during a game between Soviet and Dutch players. Details of the event, blaming police for the tragedy, were not published in the Soviet Union until seven years later, in July 1989.

Actor Bela Lugosi was born on this date in 1882 in Hungary. Best known for his role as the vampire count in "Dracula," Lugosi's heavy accent limited him to mostly B-movies. He died in 1956 during the filming of Ed Wood's cinematic low-point "Plan Nine from Outer Space" and reportedly was buried wearing his Dracula cape.

It was on this date in 1818 that the United States and Britain agreed to establish the 49th parallel as the official boundary between the United States and Canada.

As U.S. forces fled the Phillipines to escape the advancing Japanese in 1942, Gen. Douglas MacArthur promised to return. On this date in 1944, he kept his promise when he landed with American troops during the closing days of World War II.

And it was on this date in 1990 that the rap group 2 Live Crew was acquitted in Miami of obscenity charges arising from a performance of selections from their album "As Nasty As They Wanna Be."

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

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