Today In History – February 20
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Today’s Highlight in History:
On Feb. 20, 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.
On this date:
In 1792, President George Washington signed an act creating the United States Post Office Department.
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 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt signed an immigration act which excluded “idiots, imbeciles, feebleminded persons, epileptics, insane persons” from being admitted to the United States.
In 1938, Anthony Eden resigned as British foreign secretary following Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s decision to negotiate with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
In 1942, Lt. Edward “Butch” O’Hare became the U.S. Navy’s first flying ace of World War II by shooting down five Japanese bombers while defending the aircraft carrier USS Lexington in the South Pacific.
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, which circled the globe three times in a flight lasting 4 hours, 55 minutes and 23 seconds before splashing down safely in the Atlantic Ocean 800 miles southeast of Bermuda.
In 1965, America’s Ranger 8 spacecraft crashed on the moon, as planned, after sending back thousands of pictures of the lunar surface.
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 1987, a bomb left by Unabomber Ted Kaczynski exploded behind a computer store in Salt Lake City, seriously injuring store owner Gary Wright. Soviet authorities released Jewish activist Josef Begun.
In 1999, movie reviewer Gene Siskel died at a hospital outside Chicago at age 53.
Ten years ago: President Barack Obama warned a gathering of mayors at the White House that he would “call them out” if they wasted the money from his massive economic stimulus plan. The Dow Jones industrial average ended the week at 7,365.67, the lowest level in more than six years. Israeli President Shimon Peres chose Benjamin Netanyahu to form a new government. The WTA fined Dubai Tennis Championships organizers a record $300,000 after Israeli player Shahar Peer was denied a visa by the United Arab Emirates.
Five years ago: Protesters advanced on police lines in the heart of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, prompting government snipers to shoot and kill scores of people. In Sochi, Canada beat the U.S. 3-2 in overtime to win its 4th straight Olympic women’s hockey gold. Adelina Sotnikova became Russia’s first gold medalist in women’s Olympic figure skating, defeating defending champion Yuna Kim of South Korea.
One year ago: Students who survived the Florida school shooting traveled to Tallahassee to urge state lawmakers to prevent another massacre, but procedural moves in the legislature effectively halted any effort to ban assault-style rifles like the one used in the attack. President Donald Trump directed the Justice Department to move to ban devices like the rapid-fire bump stocks used in the Las Vegas massacre. Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir became the most decorated figure skaters in history, capturing the gold medal in ice dancing on Day 11 of the Winter Olympics in South Korea.