Today 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. (The siege ended April 19 as fire erupted while federal agents smashed their way into the compound; Koresh and 78 other people were killed.)
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 1911, President William Howard Taft nominated William H. Lewis to be the first black Assistant Attorney General of the United States.
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.
In 1951, the Senate committee headed by Estes Kefauver, D-Tenn., issued an interim report saying at least two major crime syndicates were operating in the U.S.
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, Calif., the United States won its first Olympic hockey gold medal by defeating Czechoslovakia's team, 9-4.
In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai issued the Shanghai Communique, which called for normalizing relations between their countries, at the conclusion of Nixon's historic visit to China.
In 1975, more than 40 people were killed in London's Underground when a subway train smashed into the end of a tunnel.
In 1983, the long-running TV series "M-A-S-H" ended after 11 seasons on CBS with a special 2˝-hour finale that was watched by an estimated 121.6 million people.
In 1986, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was shot to death in central Stockholm. (The killing remains unsolved.)
In 1988, the 15th Olympic Winter Games held its closing ceremony in Calgary, Canada.
Ten years ago: NASA released video taken aboard Columbia that had miraculously survived the fiery destruction of the space shuttle with the loss of all seven astronauts; in the footage, four of the crew members can be seen doing routine chores and admiring the view outside the cockpit. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stood by its ruling that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools was unconstitutional because of the words "under God." The Food and Drug Administration announced that every bottle of ephedra would soon bear stern warnings that the popular herb could cause heart attacks or strokes, even kill. (The government banned ephedra in Feb. 2004.)
Five 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. Deposed Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra returned to Thailand from 17 months in exile to face corruption charges. Mike Smith, lead singer for the British band Dave Clark Five, died outside London at age 64.
One year 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.
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