A Blast from the Past

By United Press International  |  Oct. 24, 2002 at 3:00 AM
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Today is Oct. 24.

The United Nations was born on this day in 1945, less than two months after World War II ended. U.S. Secretary of State James Byrnes announced that the U.N. charter was in effect, following Soviet ratification of the document. The new international body replaced the old League of Nations of the previous World War era. In 1971, the U.N. General Assembly declared this to be United Nations Day, observed as a holiday by all U.N. Member States.

The Treaty of Westphalia ended the Thirty Years' War in Europe on this date in 1648. The war was mainly a struggle between European Protestantism and Roman Catholicism as represented by the Hapsburg monarchy and the Holy Roman Empire. France emerged from the war with the most power, and Germany was virtually devastated.

The first telegram was transmitted across the United States on this date in 1861. California's state Supreme Court Chief Justice Stephen Field sent a telegram to President Abraham Lincoln in Washington.

He had been found guilty of fleecing his flock. And on this date in 1989, televangelist Jim Bakker was sentenced to 45 years in prison and fined $500,000 dollars. Bakker's downfall, and the collapse of his PTL religious empire, all began when a former church secretary said she'd had an affair with him. Jessica Hahn went on to pose for Playboy.

Several others have tried it, with mixed results, but Annie Edson Taylor did it first. In 1901, the female daredevil was the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Taylor, who performed the feat on her birthday, went over the 175-foot-tall Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side of Niagara inside a barrel five feet high and three feet in diameter. A leather harness and cushions lined the barrel to protect Taylor during her fall, and she emerged shaken but unhurt in the river below.

And also on this date in 1989, former Hungarian beauty queen-turned-actress Zsa Zsa Gabor was sentenced to 72 hours in jail, 120 hours of community service and ordered to pay nearly $13,000 in fines and court costs for slapping a police officer who had stopped her car in Beverly Hills, Calif.

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

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