Today in History

Today is Wednesday, Feb. 11, the 42nd day of 2015. There are 323 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Feb. 11, 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Josef Stalin signed the Yalta Agreement, in which Stalin agreed to declare war against Imperial Japan following Nazi Germany’s capitulation (in return, the Soviet Union would acquire territories lost to Japan in the Russo-Japanese War).

On this date:

In 1812, Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry signed a redistricting law favoring his Democratic-Republican Party – giving rise to the term “gerrymandering.”

In 1858, a French girl, Bernadette Soubirous (soo-bee-ROO’), reported the first of 18 visions of a lady dressed in white in a grotto near Lourdes. (The Catholic Church later accepted that the visions were of the Virgin Mary.)

In 1862, the Civil War Battle of Fort Donelson began in Tennessee. (Union forces led by Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant captured the fort five days later.)

In 1929, the Lateran Treaty was signed, with Italy recognizing the independence and sovereignty of Vatican City.

In 1937, a six-week-old sit-down strike against General Motors ended, with the company agreeing to recognize the United Automobile Workers Union.

In 1963, American author and poet Sylvia Plath was found dead in her London flat, a suicide; she was 30.

In 1972, McGraw-Hill Publishing Co. and Life magazine canceled plans to publish what had turned out to be a fake autobiography of reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes.

In 1975, Margaret Thatcher was elected leader of Britain’s opposition Conservative Party.

In 1989, Rev. Barbara C. Harris became the first woman consecrated as a bishop in the Episcopal Church, in a ceremony held in Boston.

In 1990, South African black activist Nelson Mandela was freed after 27 years in captivity.

In 2012, pop singer Whitney Houston, 48, was found dead in a hotel room in Beverly Hills, California.

In 2013, Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation during a routine morning meeting of Vatican cardinals. (The 85-year-old pontiff was succeeded by Pope Francis.)

Ten years ago: Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld made an unannounced visit to Iraq, where he observed Iraqi security forces and declared “there’s no question progress has been made” in preparing the nation for building a new government. CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan quit amid a furor over remarks he’d made about journalists being targeted by the U.S. military in Iraq. Samuel W. Alderson, inventor of crash test dummies, died in Marina Del Rey, California, at age 90.

Five years ago: Former President Bill Clinton had two stents inserted in one of his heart arteries after being hospitalized in New York with chest pains. Iranian security forces unleashed a crushing sweep against opposition protesters as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (ah-muh-DEE’-neh-zhahd) used the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution to defy the West. British fashion designer Alexander McQueen, 40, was found dead in his London home.

One year ago: President Barack Obama, during a joint White House news conference with French President Francois Hollande, vowed to come down like “a ton of bricks” on businesses that violated Iranian sanctions while nuclear negotiations were underway, and conceded “enormous frustration” with stalled Syrian peace talks. At the Sochi Games, Carina Vogt of Germany won women’s ski jumping’s first-ever Olympic gold medal.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Conrad Janis is 87. Fashion designer Mary Quant is 81. Actor Burt Reynolds is 79. Actress Tina Louise is 77. Actor Sonny Landham is 74. Bandleader Sergio Mendes is 74. Rhythm-and-blues singer Otis Clay is 73. Actor Philip Anglim is 63. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is 62. Actress Catherine Hickland is 59. Rock musician David Uosikkinen (aw-SIK’-ken-ihn) (The Hooters) is 59. Actress Carey Lowell is 54. Singer Sheryl Crow is 53. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is 51. Actress Jennifer Aniston is 46. Actor Damian Lewis is 44. Actress Marisa Petroro is 43. Singer D’Angelo is 41. Actor Brice Beckham is 39. Rock M-C/vocalist Mike Shinoda (Linkin Park) is 38. Singer-actress Brandy is 36. Country musician Jon Jones (The Eli Young Band) is 35. Actor Matthew Lawrence is 35. Rhythm-and-blues singer Kelly Rowland is 34. Singer Aubrey O’Day is 31. Actress Q’orianka (kohr-ee-AHN’-kuh) Kilcher is 25. Actor Taylor Lautner is 23.

Thought for Today: “Life does not count by years. Some suffer a lifetime in a day, and so grow old between the rising and the setting of the sun.” – Augusta Jane Evans, American novelist (1835-1909).

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