Today in History

Today is Monday, Feb. 2, the 33rd day of 2015. There are 332 days left in the year. This is Groundhog Day.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Feb. 2, 1925, the legendary Alaska Serum Run ended as the last of a series of dog mushers brought a life-saving treatment to Nome, the scene of a diphtheria epidemic, six days after the drug left Nenana.

On this date:

In 1653, New Amsterdam – now New York City – was incorporated.

In 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, ending the Mexican-American War, was signed.

In 1887, Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, held its first Groundhog Day festival.

In 1914, Charles Chaplin made his movie debut as the comedy short “Making a Living” was released by Keystone Film Co. The musical “Shameen Dhu,” featuring the song “Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral,” opened on Broadway.

In 1915, Israeli statesman Abba Eban was born in Cape Town, South Africa.

In 1925, the silent film “The Lost World,” based on the Arthur Conan Doyle novel about explorers who encounter living prehistoric animals in South America, had its world premiere.

In 1932, Duke Ellington and His Orchestra recorded “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” for Brunswick Records.

In 1943, the remainder of Nazi forces from the Battle of Stalingrad surrendered in a major victory for the Soviets in World War II.

In 1964, Ranger 6, a lunar probe launched by NASA, crashed onto the surface of the moon as planned, but failed to send back any TV images.

In 1971, Idi Amin, having seized power in Uganda, proclaimed himself president.

In 1980, NBC News reported the FBI had conducted a sting operation targeting members of Congress using phony Arab businessmen in what became known as “Abscam,” a codename protested by Arab-Americans.

In 1990, in a dramatic concession to South Africa’s black majority, President F.W. de Klerk lifted a ban on the African National Congress and promised to free Nelson Mandela.

Ten years ago: In his State of the Union address, President George W. Bush called for changes in Social Security that would combine reduced government benefits for younger workers with “a chance to build a nest egg” through personal accounts. German heavyweight boxer Max Schmeling died at age 99.

Five years ago: President Barack Obama, speaking in Nashua, New Hampshire, branded Republicans as electoral opportunists more concerned about their own interests than the people’s. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences unveiled its 2009 Oscar nominees; in a first, 10 films were nominated for best picture instead of five, including eventual winner “The Hurt Locker.”

One year ago: Academy Award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, 46, was found dead in his New York apartment from a combination of heroin, cocaine and other drugs. The Seattle Seahawks won their first Super Bowl title, crushing the favored Denver Broncos 43-8.

Today’s Birthdays: Gossip columnist Liz Smith is 92. Former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing (val-eh-REE’ ZHEES’-kahr deh-STANG’) is 89. Actor Robert Mandan is 83. Comedian Tom Smothers is 78. Rock singer-guitarist Graham Nash is 73. Television executive Barry Diller is 73. Actor Bo Hopkins is 71. Country singer Howard Bellamy (The Bellamy Brothers) is 69. TV chef Ina (EE’-nuh) Garten is 67. Actor Jack McGee is 66. Actor Brent Spiner (SPY’-nur) is 66. Rock musician Ross Valory (Journey) is 66. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, is 63. The president of South Korea, Park Geun-hye (goon-hay), is 63. Model Christie Brinkley is 61. Actor Michael Talbott is 60. Actress Kim Zimmer is 60. Actor Michael T. Weiss is 53. Actor-comedian Adam Ferrara is 49. Rock musician Robert DeLeo (Army of Anyone; Stone Temple Pilots) is 49. Actress Jennifer Westfeldt is 45. Rock musician Ben Mize is 44. Rapper T-Mo is 43. Actress Marissa Jaret Winokur is 42. Actress Lori Beth Denberg is 39. Singer Shakira is 38. Actor Rich Sommer (TV: “Mad Men”) is 37. Country singer Blaine Larsen is 29. Actress Zosia Mamet (TV: “Girls”) is 27.

Thought for Today: “History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives.” – Abba Eban (1915-2002).

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