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Today in History

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Today is Monday, June 30, the 181st day of 2014. There are 184 days left in the year.
Today’s highlight:
On June 30, 1934, Adolf Hitler launched his “blood purge” of political and military rivals in Germany in what came to be known as “The Night of the Long Knives.”
On this date:
In 1859, French acrobat Charles Blondin walked back and forth on a tightrope above the gorge of Niagara Falls as thousands of spectators watched.
In 1886, Arturo Toscanini, a 19-year-old cellist, made his legendary conducting debut as he stepped in as a last-minute substitute to lead the orchestra of an Italian touring company’s performance of the Verdi opera “Aida” in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In 1908, the Tunguska Event took place in Russia as an asteroid exploded above Siberia, leaving 800 square miles of scorched or blown-down trees.
In 1912, Canada’s deadliest tornado on record occurred as a cyclone struck Regina, the provincial capital of Saskatchewan, killing 28 people.
In 1921, President Warren G. Harding nominated former President William Howard Taft to be chief justice of the United States, succeeding the late Edward Douglass White.
In 1933, the Screen Actors Guild was established.
In 1958, the U.S. Senate passed the Alaska statehood bill by a vote of 64-20.
In 1963, Pope Paul VI was crowned the 262nd head of the Roman Catholic Church.
In 1972, for the first time, a leap-second was added to Coordinated Universal Time to account for the slowing rotation of the Earth.
In 1984, John Turner was sworn in as Canada’s 17th prime minister, succeeding Pierre Elliott Trudeau. (However, Turner held the post for less than three months.) Playwright and screenwriter Lillian Hellman, 79, died on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.
In 1985, 39 American hostages from a hijacked TWA jetliner were freed in Beirut after being held 17 days.
In 1994, an Airbus A330 passenger plane crashed after takeoff from Toulouse, France, on a test flight, killing all seven occupants. The Supreme Court ruled, 6-3, that judges can bar even peaceful demonstrators from getting too close to abortion clinics. The U.S. Figure Skating Association stripped Tonya Harding of the national championship and banned her for life for her role in the attack on rival Nancy Kerrigan.
Ten years ago: A federal appeals court approved an antitrust settlement Microsoft had negotiated with the Justice Department. The Iraqis took legal custody of Saddam Hussein and eleven of his top lieutenants, a first step toward the ousted dictator’s expected trial for crimes against humanity. After nearly seven years of travel, the international Cassini spacecraft entered Saturn’s orbit.
Five years ago: Democrat Al Franken was declared the winner of Minnesota’s eight-month U.S. Senate vote recount, defeating Republican incumbent Norm Coleman. A Yemeni jet with 153 people on board crashed into the Indian Ocean as it tried to land on the island nation of Comoros; a 12-year-old girl was the sole survivor. American soldier Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl went missing from his base in eastern Afghanistan, and was later confirmed to have been captured by insurgents. (Bergdahl was released on May 31, 2014, in exchange for five Taliban detainees.) Musical actor Harve Presnell, 75, died in Santa Monica, California.
One year ago: Nineteen elite firefighters known as members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots were killed battling a wildfire northwest of Phoenix after a change in wind direction pushed the flames back toward their position. Addressing students at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, President Barack Obama declared that the future of the young and growing continent still rested in Nelson Mandela’s vision for equality and opportunity. Millions thronged the streets of Cairo and cities around Egypt and marched on the presidential palace in an attempt to force out Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Inbee Park won the U.S. Women’s Open in Southampton, New York, for her third straight major of the year.
Associated Press

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