Today in History

Today is Shrove Tuesday, Feb. 17, the 48th day of 2015. There are 317 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Feb. 17, 1865, during the Civil War, Columbia, South Carolina, burned as the Confederates evacuated and Union forces moved in. (It’s not clear which side was responsible for setting the blaze, or whether it had been deliberate.)

On this date:

In 1815, the United States and Britain exchanged the instruments of ratification for the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812.

In 1863, the International Red Cross was founded in Geneva.

In 1904, the original two-act version of Giacomo Puccini’s opera “Madama Butterfly” received a poor reception at its premiere at La Scala in Milan, Italy.

In 1913, the Armory Show, a landmark modern art exhibit, opened in New York City.

In 1925, the first issue of The New Yorker magazine (bearing the cover date of Feb. 21) was published.

In 1933, Newsweek magazine was first published under the title “News-Week.”

In 1944, during World War II, U.S. forces invaded Eniwetok Atoll, encountering little initial resistance from Imperial Japanese troops. (The Americans secured the atoll less than a week later.)

In 1959, the United States launched Vanguard 2, a satellite which carried meteorological equipment.

In 1965, comedian Joan Rivers made her first appearance on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson.

In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon departed the White House with his wife, Pat, on a historic trip to China.

In 1985, Murray P. Haydon became the third person to receive a permanent artificial heart as doctors at Humana Hospital Audubon in Louisville, Kentucky, implanted the device. (Haydon lived 488 days with the heart.)

In 1995, Colin Ferguson was convicted of six counts of murder in the December 1993 Long Island Rail Road shootings (he was later sentenced to a minimum of 200 years in prison).

Ten years ago: President George W. Bush named John Negroponte (neh-groh-PAHN’-tee), the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, as the government’s first national intelligence director. Iraq’s electoral commission certified the results of the Jan. 30 elections and allocated 140 of 275 National Assembly seats to the United Iraqi Alliance, giving the Shiite-dominated party a majority in the new parliament. Actor Dan O’Herlihy died in Malibu, California, at age 85.

Five years ago: President Barack Obama marked the one-year anniversary of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, saying it had staved off another Great Depression and kept up to 2 million people on the job. Eight American missionaries charged with child kidnapping in Haiti were released after nearly three weeks in a Haitian jail. Americans Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso captured gold and silver in the women’s Olympic downhill in Vancouver. Actress Kathryn Grayson, 88, died in Los Angeles.

One year ago: The co-pilot of an Italian-bound Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767 locked his captain out of the cockpit, commandeered the plane, then headed to Geneva, where he was arrested upon landing by Swiss authorities (no one was injured). Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the gold medal in ice dance at Sochi, the first Olympic title in the event for the United States. (Davis and White finished 4.53 points ahead of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, the 2010 champions.) Jimmy Fallon made his debut as host of NBC’s “Tonight Show.”

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Hal Holbrook is 90. Mystery writer Ruth Rendell is 85. Singer Bobby Lewis is 82. Actor-comedian Barry Humphries (aka “Dame Edna”) is 81. Country singer-songwriter Johnny Bush is 80. Actress Christina Pickles is 80. Football Hall-of-Famer Jim Brown is 79. Actress Brenda Fricker is 70. Actress Rene Russo is 61. Actor Richard Karn is 59. Actor Lou Diamond Phillips is 53. Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan is 52. Actor-comedian Larry, the Cable Guy is 52. TV personality Rene Syler is 52. Movie director Michael Bay is 51. Singer Chante Moore is 48. Rock musician Timothy J. Mahoney (311) is 45. Actor Dominic Purcell is 45. Olympic gold and silver medal skier Tommy Moe is 45. Actress Denise Richards is 44. Rock singer-musician Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day) is 43. Actor Jerry O’Connell is 41. Country singer Bryan White is 41. Actress Kelly Carlson is 39. Actor Ashton Holmes is 37. Actor Jason Ritter is 35. TV personality Paris Hilton is 34. Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt is 34. TV host Daphne Oz (TV: “The Chew”) is 29. Actor Chord Overstreet (TV: “Glee”) is 26. Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran is 24. Actress Meaghan Martin is 23. Actress Sasha Pieterse (TV: “Pretty Little Liars”) is 19.

Thought for Today: “People show their character by what they laugh at.” – German proverb.

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