By the Associated Press
Today is Thursday, March 20, the 79th day of 2014. There are 286 days left in the year. Spring arrives at 12:57 p.m. EDT.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On March 20, 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s influential novel about slavery, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” was first published in book form after being serialized.
On this date:
In 1727, physicist, mathematician and astronomer Sir Isaac Newton died in London.
In 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte returned to Paris after escaping his exile on Elba, beginning his “Hundred Days” rule.
In 1922, the decommissioned USS Jupiter, converted into the first U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, was recommissioned as the USS Langley.
In 1933, the state of Florida electrocuted Giuseppe Zangara for shooting to death Chicago Mayor Anton J. Cermak at a Miami event attended by President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt, the presumed target, the previous February.
In 1952, the U.S. Senate ratified, 66-10, the Treaty of Peace with Japan.
In 1964, Irish poet, author and playwright Brendan Behan, 41, died in Dublin.
In 1969, John Lennon married Yoko Ono in Gibraltar.
In 1974, Britain’s Princess Anne was the target of a kidnapping attempt near Buckingham Palace; the would-be abductor, Ian Ball, was captured. Former NBC News anchorman Chet Huntley, 62, died at his Montana home.
In 1985, Libby Riddles of Teller, Alaska, became the first woman to win the Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race.
In 1994, El Salvador held its first presidential election following the country’s 12-year-old civil war. (Armando Calderon Sol of the ARENA party led the vote, but needed to win a run-off to achieve the presidency.)
In 1995, in Tokyo, 12 people were killed, more than 5,500 others sickened when packages containing the poisonous gas sarin were leaked on five separate subway trains by Aum Shinrikyo (ohm shin-ree-kyoh) cult members.
In 1999, Bertrand Piccard of Switzerland and Brian Jones of Britain became the first aviators to fly a hot-air balloon around the world nonstop as they floated over Mauritania past longitude 9 degrees west. (They landed safely in Egypt the next day.)
Ten years ago: Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide rallied against the U.S.-led war in Iraq on the first anniversary of the start of the conflict. The U.S. military charged six soldiers with abusing inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison. The Rev. Karen Dammann, a lesbian Methodist pastor, was acquitted of violating church doctrine in a trial held in Bothell, Wash. Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian (jehn shwee bee-ehn) narrowly won re-election a day after being shot in an assassination attempt. Former Dutch Queen Juliana died at age 94.
Five years ago: President Barack Obama reached out to the Iranian people in a video with Farsi subtitles, saying the U.S. was prepared to end years of strained relations if Tehran toned down its bellicose rhetoric; Iranian officials dismissed the overture, saying they wanted concrete change from Washington before they were ready to enter a dialogue. Pope Benedict XVI, visiting Angola, condemned sexual violence against women in Africa and chided those countries on the continent that approved abortion.
One year ago: Making his first visit to Israel since taking office, President Barack Obama affirmed Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself from any threat and vowed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Five former elected officials of Bell, Calif., were convicted of misappropriating public funds by paying themselves huge salaries while raising taxes on residents; one defendant was acquitted. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed bills that put sweeping new restrictions on sales of firearms and ammunition. Rise (REE’-suh) Stevens, 99, a mezzo-soprano who sang with the Metropolitan Opera for more than 20 years spanning the 1940s and 1950s, died in New York.
Today’s Birthdays: Singer Dame Vera Lynn is 97. Producer-director-comedian Carl Reiner is 92. Actor Hal Linden is 83. Former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney (muhl-ROO’-nee) is 75. Country singer Don Edwards is 75. TV producer Paul Junger Witt is 71. Country singer-musician Ranger Doug (Riders in the Sky) is 68. Hockey Hall-of-Famer Bobby Orr is 66. Blues singer-musician Marcia Ball is 65. Actor William Hurt is 64. Rock musician Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake and Palmer) is 64. Rock musician Jimmie Vaughan is 63. Country musician Jimmy Seales (Shenandoah) is 60. Actress Amy Aquino (ah-KEE’-noh) is 57. Movie director Spike Lee is 57. Actress Theresa Russell is 57. Actress Vanessa Bell Calloway is 57. Actress Holly Hunter is 56. Rock musician Slim Jim Phantom (The Stray Cats) is 53. Actress-model-designer Kathy Ireland is 51. Actor David Thewlis is 51. Rock musician Adrian Oxaal (James) is 49. Actress Jessica Lundy is 48. Actress Liza Snyder is 46. Actor Michael Rapaport is 44. Actor Alexander Chaplin is 43. Rock singer Chester Bennington (Linkin Park) is 38. Actor Michael Genadry is 36. Actress Bianca Lawson is 35. Rock musician Nick Wheeler (The All-American Rejects) is 32. Actor Michael Cassidy is 31. Actress-singer Christy Carlson Romano is 30.
Thought for Today: “Spring makes everything young again except man.” — Jean Paul Richter, German author (1763-1825).