Today in History


By the Associated Press

Today is Saturday, Feb. 20, the 51st day of 2016. There are 315 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Feb. 20, 1816, the opera buffa “The Barber of Seville” by Gioachino Rossini premiered at the Teatro Argentina in Rome under its original title, “Almaviva, or the Useless Precaution.” (Although Rossini’s opera received a hostile reception from the audience the first night, it fared much better at its next performance.)

On this date:

In 1792, President George Washington signed an act creating the U.S. Post Office.

In 1862, William Wallace Lincoln, the 11-year-old son of President Abraham Lincoln and first lady Mary Todd Lincoln, died at the White House, apparently of typhoid fever.

In 1905, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Jacobson v. Massachusetts, upheld, 7-2, compulsory vaccination laws intended to protect the public’s health.

In 1915, the Panama Pacific International Exposition opened in San Francisco (the fair lasted until December).

In 1938, Anthony Eden resigned as British foreign secretary following Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s decision to negotiate with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.

In 1944, during World War II, U.S. strategic bombers began raiding German aircraft manufacturing centers in a series of attacks that became known as “Big Week.”

In 1950, the U.S. Supreme Court, in United States v. Rabinowitz, ruled 5-3 that authorities making a lawful arrest did not need a warrant to search and seize evidence in an area that was in the “immediate and complete control” of the suspect.

In 1962, astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth as he flew aboard Project Mercury’s Friendship 7 spacecraft.

In 1971, the National Emergency Warning Center in Colorado erroneously ordered U.S. radio and TV stations off the air; some stations heeded the alert, which was not lifted for about 40 minutes.

In 1986, the Soviet Union sent up the core module of space station Mir (Peace), which would serve as a permanently manned base for the next generation in space. (Mir stayed in orbit until 2001, when it was brought down in a controlled descent, breaking up in the atmosphere.)

In 1998, Tara Lipinski of the U.S. won the ladies’ figure skating gold medal at the Nagano Olympics; fellow American Michelle Kwan won the silver.

In 2003, a fire sparked by pyrotechnics broke out during a concert by the group Great White at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island, killing 100 people and injuring about 200 others.

Ten years ago: President George W. Bush, visiting Milwaukee, outlined his energy proposals to help wean the country off foreign oil. Right-wing British historian David Irving was sentenced to three years in prison after admitting to an Austrian court that he’d denied the Holocaust. (He was released in Dec. 2006.) At the Turin Olympics, Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto snapped the U.S. medals drought in figure skating with a silver in ice dancing; Russians Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov won the gold. Archbishop Paul C. Marcinkus, a former Vatican bank chief linked to a huge Italian banking scandal in the 1980s, was found dead at his home in Sun City, Arizona; he was 84. Sportscaster Curt Gowdy died in Palm Beach, Florida, at age 86.

Five years ago: Security forces loyal to Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi unleashed heavy gunfire as thousands marched in the rebellious eastern city of Benghazi, cutting down mourners trying to bury victims. Twenty-year-old Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500 in only his second Sprint Cup start. Kobe Bryant won his record-tying fourth All-Star game MVP award, scoring 37 points and propelling the West to a 148-143 victory over the East in the NBA All-Star game.

One year ago: Islamic State militants unleashed suicide bombings in eastern Libya, killing at least 40 people in what the group said was retaliation for Egyptian airstrikes against the extremists’ aggressive new branch in North Africa. Maureen McDonnell, the wife of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), was sentenced to one year and 1 day in prison for her role in a bribery scheme that destroyed her husband’s political career.

Today’s Birthdays: Gloria Vanderbilt is 92. Actor Sidney Poitier is 89. Racing Hall of Famer Bobby Unser is 82. Actress Marj Dusay is 80. Jazz-soul singer Nancy Wilson is 79. Racing Hall of Famer Roger Penske is 79. Singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie is 75. Hockey Hall-of-Famer Phil Esposito is 74. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is 74. Movie director Mike Leigh is 73. Actress Brenda Blethyn is 70. Actress Sandy Duncan is 70. Rock musician J. Geils is 70. Actor Peter Strauss is 69. Rock musician Billy Zoom (X) is 68. Rock singer-musician-producer Walter Becker (Steely Dan) is 66. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is 65. Country singer Kathie Baillie is 65. Actor John Voldstad is 65. Newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst is 62. Actor Anthony Stewart Head is 62. Country singer Leland Martin is 59. Actor James Wilby is 58. Rock musician Sebastian Steinberg is 57. Comedian Joel Hodgson (HAHD’-suhn) is 56. Basketball Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkley is 53. Rock musician Ian Brown (Stone Roses) is 53. Actor Willie Garson is 52. Actor French Stewart is 52. Actor Ron Eldard is 51. Model Cindy Crawford is 50. Actor Andrew Shue is 49. Actress Lili Taylor is 49. Actress Andrea Savage is 43. Singer Brian Littrell is 41. Actress Lauren Ambrose is 38. Actor Jay Hernandez is 38. Actress Chelsea Peretti is 38. Country musician Coy Bowles is 37. Actress Majandra Delfino is 35. Singer-musician Chris Thile (THEE’-lee) is 35. Actress-singer Jessie Mueller is 33. Comedian Trevor Noah (TV: “The Daily Show”) is 32. Actor Jake Richardson is 31. Actress Daniella Pineda is 29. Singer Rihanna is 28. Actor Jack Falahee is 27.

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