Today in History
Today is Tuesday, Feb. 28, the 59th day of 2017. There are 306 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Feb. 28, 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; the "Zimmermann Note," which had been intercepted and decoded by Britain, proposed 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.)
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 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 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 1967, American magazine publisher Henry R. Luce died in Phoenix, Arizona, at age 68.
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 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.)
In 1997, in North Hollywood, California, two heavily armed and armored robbers, after bungling a bank heist, came out firing, unleashing their arsenal at police, bystanders, cars and TV choppers before they were killed.
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 federal judge in Miami ruled that suspected al-Qaida operative Jose Padilla was competent to stand trial on terrorism support charges, rejecting arguments that he was severely damaged by 3 1/2 years of interrogation and isolation in a military brig. (Padilla was convicted later in the year of supporting al-Qaida and terrorism conspiracy and was sentenced to 17 years in prison, a term that was later increased to 21 years.) Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. died in New York at age 89.
Five years ago: Republican Mitt Romney won presidential primary victories in Arizona and Michigan. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, announced she would not seek re-election, citing what she called the increasingly polarized climate of Washington. Angela Castro, 88, an elder sister of Cuban leaders Fidel and Raul Castro, died in Havana. Matt Kenseth won his second Daytona 500, holding off Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a post-midnight victory after rain had postponed the start of the race for the first time in its 54-year history from Sunday to Monday.
One year ago: One of Pope Francis' top advisers, Australian Cardinal George Pell, testifying before an investigative commission in Sydney via videolink from Rome, acknowledged that the Catholic Church had made "enormous mistakes" in allowing thousands of children to be raped and molested by priests over centuries. "Spotlight" won the Academy Award for best picture of 2015; Brie Larson was recognized as best actress for "Room" while Leonardo DiCaprio was named best actor for "The Revenant." Oscar-winning actor George Kennedy, 91, died in Middleton, Idaho.
Today's Birthdays: Architect Frank Gehry is 88. Actor Gavin MacLeod is 86. Singer Sam the Sham is 80. Actor-director-dancer Tommy Tune is 78. Hall of Fame auto racer Mario Andretti is 77. Actor Frank Bonner is 75. Actress Kelly Bishop is 73. Actress Stephanie Beacham is 70. Writer-director Mike Figgis is 69. Actress Mercedes Ruehl is 69. Actress Bernadette Peters is 69. Former Energy Secretary Steven Chu is 69. Actress Ilene Graff is 68. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman is 64. Comedian Gilbert Gottfried is 62. Basketball Hall of Famer Adrian Dantley is 62. Actor John Turturro is 60. Rock singer Cindy Wilson is 60. Actress Rae Dawn Chong is 56. Actress Maxine Bahns is 48. Actor Robert Sean Leonard is 48. Rock singer Pat Monahan is 48. Author Daniel Handler (aka "Lemony Snicket") is 47. Actress Tasha Smith is 46. Actor Rory Cochrane is 45. Actress Ali Larter is 41. Country singer Jason Aldean is 40. Actor Geoffrey Arend is 39. Actress Michelle Horn is 30. Actress True O'Brien (TV: "Days of Our Lives") is 23. Actress Madisen Beaty is 22. Actress Quinn Shephard is 22. Actor Bobb'e J. Thompson is 21.
Thought for Today: "Education is learning what you didn't even know you didn't know." — Daniel J. Boorstin, American historian, educator and Librarian of Congress (1914-2004).