Today in History


By the Associated Press

Today is Sunday, Feb. 28, the 59th day of 2016. There are 307 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Feb. 28, 1996, Britain’s Princess Diana agreed to divorce Prince Charles. (Their 15-year marriage officially ended in Aug. 1996; Diana died in a car crash in Paris a year after that.)

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 1916, American-born novelist Henry James, known for such works as “Daisy Miller,” ”The Portrait of a Lady” and “The Bostonians,” died in London at age 72.

In 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.

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 (PAHL’-meh) 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 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: A 20-year-old legal fight over protests outside abortion clinics ended with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling 8-0 that federal extortion and racketeering laws could not be used against demonstrators. The first Mardi Gras since Hurricane Katrina drew a smaller-than-usual turnout.

Five years ago: The United States and European allies intensified efforts to isolate Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, redoubling demands for him to step down, questioning his mental state and warning that those who stayed loyal to him risked losing their wealth and facing prosecution for human rights abuses. Actress Jane Russell died in Santa Maria, California, at age 89. French actress Annie Girardot died in Paris at age 79.

One year ago: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced his country would shrink the size of the U.S. Embassy staff, limit the activities of U.S. diplomats and require American tourists to apply for visas, saying that “gringo” meddling had forced him to adopt the series of restrictive measures. An Egyptian court declared Hamas a “terror organization,” further isolating the rulers of the Gaza Strip. Death claimed NFL player and coach Tom Bettis at age 81; baseball player Alex Johnson at age 72; and basketball player Anthony Mason at age 48.

(Stations: “Bobb’e J. Thompson” is correct)

Today’s Birthdays: Architect Frank Gehry is 87. Actor Gavin MacLeod is 85. Actor Don Francks is 84. Singer Sam the Sham is 79. Actor-director-dancer Tommy Tune is 77. Hall of Fame auto racer Mario Andretti is 76. Actor Frank Bonner is 74. Actress Kelly Bishop is 72. Actress Stephanie Beacham is 69. Writer-director Mike Figgis is 68. Actress Mercedes Ruehl is 68. Actress Bernadette Peters is 68. Former Energy Secretary Steven Chu is 68. Actress Ilene Graff is 67. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman is 63. Comedian Gilbert Gottfried is 61. Basketball Hall-of-Famer Adrian Dantley is 61. Actor John Turturro is 59. Rock singer Cindy Wilson is 59. Actress Rae Dawn Chong is 55. Actress Maxine Bahns is 47. Actor Robert Sean Leonard is 47. Rock singer Pat Monahan is 47. Author Daniel Handler (AKA “Lemony Snicket”) is 46. Actress Tasha Smith is 45. Actor Rory Cochrane is 44. Actress Ali Larter is 40. Country singer Jason Aldean is 39. Actor Geoffrey Arend is 38. Actress Michelle Horn is 29. Actress Madisen Beaty is 21. Actress Quinn Shephard is 21. Actor Bobb’e J. Thompson is 20.

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