Today in History

Published 12:01 am Saturday, February 16, 2019

Today is Saturday, Feb. 16, the 47th day of 2019. There are 318 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Feb. 16, 1959, Fidel Castro became premier of Cuba a month and a half after the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista.

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On this date:

In 1804, Lt. Stephen Decatur led a successful raid into Tripoli Harbor to burn the U.S. Navy frigate Philadelphia, which had fallen into the hands of pirates during the First Barbary War.

In 1862, the Civil War Battle of Fort Donelson in Tennessee ended as some 12,000 Confederate soldiers surrendered; Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s victory earned him the moniker “Unconditional Surrender Grant.”

In 1868, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was organized in New York City.

In 1945, American troops landed on the island of Corregidor in the Philippines during World War II.

In 1948, NBC TV began airing its first nightly newscast, “The Camel Newsreel Theatre,” which consisted of Fox Movietone newsreels.

In 1961, the United States launched the Explorer 9 satellite.

In 1968, the nation’s first 911 emergency telephone system was inaugurated in Haleyville, Alabama, as the speaker of the Alabama House, Rankin Fite, placed a call from the mayor’s office in City Hall to a red telephone at the police station (also located in City Hall) that was answered by U.S. Rep. Tom Bevill.

In 1988, seven people were shot to death during an office rampage in Sunnyvale, California, by a man obsessed with a co-worker who was wounded in the attack. (The gunman is on death row.)

In 1996, eleven people were killed in a fiery collision between an Amtrak passenger train and a Maryland commuter train in Silver Spring, Md.

In 1998, a China Airlines Airbus A300 trying to land in fog near Taipei, Taiwan, crashed, killing all 196 people on board, plus seven on the ground.

In 2001, The United States and Britain staged air strikes against radar stations and air defense command centers in Iraq. President George W. Bush met with Mexican President Vicente Fox on the first foreign trip of Bush’s presidency. Dr. William H. Masters, who with his partner and later wife Virginia Johnson, pioneered research in the field of human sexuality, died in Tucson, Ariz., at age 85.

In 2003, more than 100,000 people demonstrated in the streets of San Francisco to protest a possible U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Ten years ago: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in Tokyo to begin her first trip abroad as President Barack Obama’s chief diplomat. The government of Pakistan agreed to implement Islamic law in the northwestern region of Malakand in an attempt to pacify a spreading Taliban insurgency. In Stamford, Conn., a 200-pound chimpanzee named Travis went berserk, severely mauling its owner’s friend, Charla Nash; Travis was shot dead by police.

Five years ago: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, during a visit to Indonesia, called climate change perhaps the “most fearsome” destructive weapon and mocked those who denied its existence or questioned its causes, comparing them to people who insist the earth is flat.

One year ago: In an indictment, special counsel Robert Mueller accused 13 Russians of an elaborate plot to disrupt the 2016 U.S. presidential election with a huge but hidden social media trolling campaign aimed in part at helping Donald Trump. The FBI said it had received a tip in January that the suspect in the Florida school shooting had a “desire to kill” and access to guns, but agents failed to investigate. President Donald Trump visited Florida, where he saw two survivors of the school shooting that left 17 people dead and thanked doctors and nurses who helped the wounded. Stocks closed out their strongest week in five years, and had recovered more than half of the losses from a plunge at the beginning of the month. Former presidential hopeful Mitt Romney officially launched his political comeback attempt, announcing that he was running for the Utah Senate seat that had been held by Republican Orrin Hatch, who chose not to seek re-election. (Romney would be elected in November, handily defeating Democrat Jenny Wilson.)

Today’s Birthdays: Jazz/pop singer-actress Peggy King is 89. Actor Jeremy Bulloch is 74. Actor William Katt is 68. Actor LeVar Burton is 62. Actor-rapper Ice-T is 61. Actress Lisa Loring is 61. International Tennis Hall of Famer John McEnroe is 60. Rock musician Andy Taylor is 58. Rock musician Dave Lombardo (Slayer) is 54. Actress Sarah Clarke is 48. Olympic gold medal runner Cathy Freeman is 46. Actor Mahershala Ali is 45. Singer Sam Salter is 44. Electronic dance music artist Bassnectar is 41. Rapper Lupe Fiasco is 37. Actress Chloe Wepper is 33. Pop-rock singer Ryan Follese (Hot Chelle Rae) is 32. Rock musician Danielle Haim is 30. Actress Elizabeth Olsen is 30. Actor Mike Weinberg is 26.