Today in History

Today is Saturday, Feb. 28, the 59th day of 2015. There are 306 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Feb. 28, 1940, the first televised college basketball games were broadcast by New York City station W2XBS as Pittsburgh defeated Fordham, 57-37, and New York University beat Georgetown, 50-27, at Madison Square Garden.

On this date:

In 1844, a 12-inch gun aboard the USS Princeton exploded as the ship was sailing on the Potomac River, killing Secretary of State Abel P. Upshur, Navy Secretary Thomas W. Gilmer and several others.

In 1861, the Territory of Colorado was organized.

In 1915, actor-comedian Zero Mostel was born in Brooklyn, New York.

In 1942, the heavy cruiser USS Houston and the Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth were attacked by Japanese forces during the World War II Battle of Sunda Strait; both were sunk shortly after midnight.

In 1953, scientists James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick announced they had discovered the double-helix structure of DNA.

In 1960, a day after defeating the Soviets at the Winter Games in Squaw Valley, California, the United States won its first Olympic hockey gold medal by defeating Czechoslovakia, 9-4.

In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai issued the Shanghai Communique, which called for normalizing relations between their countries, at the conclusion of Nixon’s historic visit to China.

In 1975, 42 people were killed in London’s Underground when a train smashed into the end of a tunnel.

In 1986, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was shot to death in central Stockholm. (The killing remains unsolved.)

In 1993, a gun battle erupted at a religious compound near Waco, Texas, when Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents tried to arrest Branch Davidian leader David Koresh on weapons charges; four agents and six Davidians were killed as a 51-day standoff began.

In 1995, Denver International Airport opened after 16 months of delays and $3.2 billion in budget overruns.

In 2013, Benedict XVI became the first pope in 600 years to resign, ending an eight-year pontificate. (Benedict was succeeded the following month by Pope Francis.)

Ten years ago: In Santa Maria, California, the prosecution and defense gave opening statements in the sexual molestation trial of Michael Jackson, who was later acquitted. A U.S. District Judge, Joan Humphrey Lefkow, discovered the bodies of her husband and mother inside her Chicago home. (An unemployed electrician confessed to the murders in a suicide note.) A suicide car bombing targeted at security recruits killed 125 people in Hillah, Iraq. Lebanon’s pro-Syrian prime minister, Omar Karami, resigned amid large anti-Syria street demonstrations in Beirut.

Five years ago: Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal in overtime to give Canada a 3-2 victory over the United States in the final event of the Vancouver Olympics. Canada earned its 14th gold medal, the most by any country at any Winter Olympics. The American silver was the 37th medal won by the United States at these games, also the most by any country at any Winter Olympics. (The U.S. won the medals race for the first time since 1932.)

One year ago: Delivering a blunt warning to Moscow, President Barack Obama expressed deep concern over reported military activity inside Ukraine by Russia and warned “there will be costs” for any intervention.

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