Today in History

Today is Ash Wednesday, Feb. 18, the 49th day of 2015. There are 316 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Feb. 18, 1885, Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” was published in the U.S. for the first time (after already being published in Britain and Canada).

On this date:

In 1546, Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant Reformation in Germany, died in Eisleben.

In 1564, artist Michelangelo Buonarroti died in Rome, just weeks before his 89th birthday.

In 1861, Jefferson Davis was sworn in as provisional president of the Confederate States of America in Montgomery, Alabama.

In 1913, Mexican President Francisco I. Madero and Vice President Jose Maria Pino Suarez were arrested during a military coup (both were shot to death on Feb. 22).

In 1930, photographic evidence of Pluto (now designated a “dwarf planet”) was discovered by Clyde W. Tombaugh at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.

In 1943, Madame Chiang Kai-shek, the wife of the Chinese leader, addressed members of the Senate and then the House, becoming the first Chinese national to address both houses of the U.S. Congress.

In 1953, “Bwana Devil,” the movie that heralded the 3D fad of the 1950s, had its New York opening.

In 1960, the 8th Winter Olympic Games were formally opened in Squaw Valley, California, by Vice President Richard M. Nixon.

In 1970, the “Chicago Seven” defendants were found not guilty of conspiring to incite riots at the 1968 Democratic national convention; five were convicted of violating the Anti-Riot Act of 1968 (those convictions were later reversed).

In 1984, Italy and the Vatican signed an accord under which Roman Catholicism ceased to be the state religion of Italy.

In 1995, the NAACP replaced veteran chairman William Gibson with Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers.

In 2001, auto racing star Dale Earnhardt Sr. died in a crash at the Daytona 500; he was 49.

Ten years ago: Explosions tore through Baghdad and a nearby city on the eve of Shiite Muslims’ holiest day, killing three dozen people. Uli Derickson, the flight attendant who’d helped save passengers during the 1985 TWA hijacking, died in Tucson, Arizona, at age 60.

Five years ago: In Austin, Texas, software engineer A. Joseph Stack III crashed his single-engine plane into a building containing IRS offices, killing one person besides himself. President Barack Obama personally welcomed the Dalai Lama to the White House, but kept the get-together off camera and low key in an attempt to avoid inflaming tensions with China. In Vancouver, Evan Lysacek became the first U.S. man to win the Olympic gold medal since Brian Boitano in 1988, shocking everyone by upsetting defending champion Evgeni Plushenko.

One year ago: Defiant protesters shouted “Glory to Ukraine!” as burning tents lit up the night sky after thousands of riot police moved against the sprawling protest camp in the center of Kiev. Megan Rice, an 84-year-old nun, was sentenced in Knoxville, Tennessee, to nearly three years in prison for breaking into a nuclear weapons complex and defacing a bunker holding bomb-grade uranium, a demonstration that exposed serious security flaws at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge. (Two other activists received sentences of just over five years.) Jorrit Bergsma set an Olympic record and led another Dutch speedskating sweep, winning the 10,000 meters at Sochi with an upset of countryman Sven Kramer in 12:44.45, eclipsing the Olympic record of 12:58.55. Maria Franziska von Trapp, 99, the last surviving member of the seven original Trapp Family Singers of “Sound of Music” fame (and stepdaughter of “the” Maria von Trapp), died in Stowe, Vermont.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor George Kennedy is 90. Former Sen. John Warner, R-Va., is 88. Author Toni Morrison is 84. Movie director Milos (MEE’-lohsh) Forman is 83. Singer Yoko Ono is 82. Singer-songwriter Bobby Hart is 76. Singer Irma Thomas is 74. Singer Herman Santiago (Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers) is 74. Actress Jess Walton (TV: “The Young and the Restless”) is 69. Singer Dennis DeYoung is 68. Actress Sinead Cusack is 67. Actress Cybill Shepherd is 65. Singer Juice Newton is 63. Singer Randy Crawford is 63. Rock musician Robbie Bachman is 62. Rock musician Larry Rust (Iron Butterfly) is 62. Actor John Travolta is 61. Actor John Pankow is 60. Game show host Vanna White is 58. Actress Jayne Atkinson is 56. Actress Greta Scacchi (SKAH’-kee) is 55. Actor Matt Dillon is 51. Rock musician Tommy Scott (Space) is 51. Rapper Dr. Dre is 50. Actress Molly Ringwald is 47. Actress Sarah Brown is 40. Actor Ike Barinholtz is 38. Actor Kristoffer Polaha is 38. Singer-musician Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek) is 38. Actor Tyrone Burton is 36. Rock-singer musician Regina Spektor is 35. Opera singer Isabel Leonard is 33. Roots rock musician Zac Cockrell (Alabama Shakes) is 27. Actor Shane Lyons is 27. Actress Maiara Walsh is 27.

Thought for Today: “Temperament is temper that is too old to spank.” – Charlotte Greenwood, American actress-comedian (1893-1978).

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