Today in History

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Today is Wednesday, Feb. 28, the 59th day of 2018. There are 306 days left in the year. The Jewish holiday Purim begins at sunset.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Feb. 28, 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.

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On this date:

In 1784, John Wesley, the co-founder of Methodism, chartered the first Methodist Church in the United States in Leesburg, Virginia.

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 1917, The Associated Press reported that the United States had obtained a diplomatic communication sent by German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmermann to a German official in Mexico proposing a German alliance with Mexico and Japan should the U.S. enter World War I. (Outrage over the telegram helped propel America into the conflict.)

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 on March 1 with a total loss of more than 1,000 men.

In 1953, scientists James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick announced they had discovered the double-helix structure of DNA.

In 1958, a school bus clipped a truck near Prestonburg, Kentucky, and plunged down an embankment into the Big Sandy River; 22 children managed to escape, but 26 other children and the bus driver drowned.

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 1968, “Soul on Ice” by Eldridge Cleaver was published by McGraw-Hill.

In 1975, 42 people were killed in London’s Underground when a train smashed into the end of a tunnel.

In 1988, the 15th Olympic Winter Games held its closing ceremony in Calgary, Canada.

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

Ten years ago: President George W. Bush told a White House news conference the country was not recession-bound; Democratic candidate Barack Obama said the economy was “on the brink of a recession” and blamed economic policies espoused by Bush and Republican presidential contender John McCain. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told his Turkish counterpart that Turkey should end its offensive against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq as soon as possible. Mike Smith, lead singer for the British band the Dave Clark Five, died outside London at age 64.

Five years ago: 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.) Bradley Manning, the Army private arrested in the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history, pleaded guilty at Fort Meade, Maryland, to 10 charges involving illegal possession or distribution of classified material. (Manning, who later adopted the female identity Chelsea Manning, was sentenced to up to 35 years in prison after being convicted of additional charges in a court-martial, but had her sentence commuted in 2017 by President Barack Obama.)

One year ago: Heralding a “new chapter of American greatness,” President Donald Trump issued a broad call for overhauling the nation’s health care system and significantly boosting military spending in an hourlong speech to a joint session of Congress. Dozens of tornadoes began touching down in the upper Midwest and northern Arkansas, killing at least three people. Amazon’s cloud-computing service, Amazon Web Services, experienced a five-hour outage in its eastern U.S. region, causing unprecedented and widespread problems for thousands of websites and apps.

Today’s Birthdays: Architect Frank Gehry is 89. Actor Gavin MacLeod is 87. Singer Sam the Sham is 81. Actor-director-dancer Tommy Tune is 79. Hall of Fame auto racer Mario Andretti is 78. Actor Frank Bonner is 76. Actress Kelly Bishop is 74. Actress Stephanie Beacham is 71. Writer-director Mike Figgis is 70. Actress Mercedes Ruehl is 70. Actress Bernadette Peters is 70. Former Energy Secretary Steven Chu is 70. Actress Ilene Graff is 69. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman is 65. Comedian Gilbert Gottfried is 63. Basketball Hall of Famer Adrian Dantley is 63. Actor John Turturro is 61. Rock singer Cindy Wilson is 61. Actress Rae Dawn Chong is 57. Actress Maxine Bahns is 49. Actor Robert Sean Leonard is 49. Rock singer Pat Monahan is 49. Author Daniel Handler (aka “Lemony Snicket”) is 48. Actress Tasha Smith is 47. Actor Rory Cochrane is 46. Actress Ali Larter is 42. Country singer Jason Aldean is 41. Actor Geoffrey Arend is 40. Actress Melanie Chandra (TV: “Code Black”) is 34. Actress Michelle Horn is 31. Actress True O’Brien is 24. Actress Madisen Beaty is 23. Actress Quinn Shephard is 23. Actor Bobb’e J. Thompson is 22.