Today in History

Today in History

Today is Saturday, Feb. 29, the 60th day of 2020. There are 306 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Feb. 29, 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a second Neutrality Act as he appealed to American businesses not to increase exports to belligerents.

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On this date:

In 1504, Christopher Columbus, stranded in Jamaica during his fourth voyage to the West, used a correctly predicted lunar eclipse to frighten hostile natives into providing food for his crew.

In 1796, President George Washington proclaimed Jay’s Treaty, which settled some outstanding differences with Britain, in effect.

In 1892, the United States and Britain agreed to submit to arbitration their dispute over seal-hunting rights in the Bering Sea. (A commission later ruled in favor of Britain.)

In 1904, bandleader Jimmy Dorsey was born in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.

In 1916, singer, actress and TV personality Dinah Shore was born Frances Rose Shore in Winchester, Tennessee. (Shore, who claimed March 1, 1917 as her birthdate, died in 1994 just days before she would have turned 78.)

In 1940, “Gone with the Wind” won eight Academy Awards, including best picture of 1939; Hattie McDaniel won for best supporting actress, the first black performer so honored.

In 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced he would seek a second term of office. Serial killer Aileen Wuornos was born in Rochester, Michigan (she was executed by the state of Florida in 2002).

In 1960, the first Playboy Club, featuring waitresses clad in “bunny” outfits, opened in Chicago. Serial killer Richard Ramirez was born in El Paso, Texas (he died in 2013 while awaiting execution in California).

In 1968, at the Grammy Awards, the 5th Dimension’s “Up, Up and Away” won record of the year for 1967, while album of the year honors went to The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

In 1980, former Israeli foreign minister Yigal Allon, who had played an important role in the Jewish state’s fight for independence, died at age 61.

In 1984, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau announced he was stepping down after more than 15 combined years in power.

In 1996, Daniel Green was convicted in Lumberton, North Carolina, of murdering James R. Jordan, the father of basketball star Michael Jordan, during a 1993 roadside holdup. (Green and an accomplice, Larry Martin Demery, were sentenced to life in prison.) A Peruvian Boeing 737 crashed on approach to Arequipa, killing all 123 people on board.

Twelve years ago (2008): Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama accused rival Hillary Rodham Clinton of trying to “play on people’s fears to scare up votes” with a TV ad showing sleeping children and asking who would be more qualified to answer a national security emergency call at 3 a.m.

Eight years ago (2012): Violent weather packing tornadoes continued to ravage the Midwest and South, resulting in some 15 deaths. Davy Jones, 66, the heartthrob singer who helped propel the made-for-TV rock band The Monkees to the top of the pop charts, died in Stuart, Florida.

Four years ago (2016): On the eve of the Super Tuesday primaries, some leading Republicans voiced renewed concerns about Donald Trump’s comments and behavior, including his refusal to immediately disavow the support of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. (Trump would score commanding wins in seven of the 11 Super Tuesday contests.) A federal judge in New York ruled that the Justice Department could not force Apple to provide the FBI with access to locked iPhone data in a routine drug case. Justice Clarence Thomas broke 10 years of courtroom silence and posed questions during a Supreme Court oral argument dealing with gun rights, provoking gasps from the audience. President Barack Obama awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor, to Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Byers Jr., a Navy SEAL who participated in the rescue of an American hostage in Afghanistan.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Joss Ackland is 92. Former astronaut Jack Lousma is 84. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople is 80. Motivational speaker Tony Robbins is 60. Legal affairs blogger Eugene Volokh is 52. Actor Antonio Sabato Jr. is 48. Poet, musician and hip-hop artist Saul Williams is 48. Rapper Ja Rule is 44. Singer-musician Mark Foster (Foster the People) is 36. Former NHL goaltender Cam Ward is 36.

Thought for Today: “Well, it has happened again. The Earth has circled four times around the sun, astronomers have designated this a leap year and anxious bachelors won’t answer their telephones until midnight.” — David O’Reilly, American journalist.

(Above Advance for Use Saturday, Feb. 29)

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