Today is Wednesday, Feb. 20, the 51st day of 2013. There are 314 days left in the year.
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, R.I., killing 100 people and injuring about 200 others.
On this date:
In 1792, President George Washington signed an act creating the U.S. Post Office.
In 1809, the Supreme Court ruled that no state legislature could annul the judgments or determine the jurisdictions of federal courts.
In 1839, Congress prohibited dueling in the District of Columbia.
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 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 1933, Congress proposed the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to repeal Prohibition.
In 1938, Anthony Eden resigned as British foreign secretary following Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s decision to negotiate with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
In 1944, during World War II, U.S. bombers began raiding German aircraft manufacturing centers in a series of attacks that became known as “Big Week.”
In 1962, astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth as he flew aboard Project Mercury’s Friendship 7 spacecraft.
In 1965, the 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 1998, Tara Lipinski of the U.S. won the ladies’ figure skating gold medal at the Nagano Olympics; Michelle Kwan won the silver.
Ten years ago: Former Air Force Master Sgt. Brian Patrick Regan was convicted in Alexandria, Va., of offering to sell U.S. intelligence to Iraq and China but acquitted of attempted spying for Libya. (Regan was later sentenced to life without parole.) A 17-year-old Mexican girl mistakenly given a heart and lungs with the wrong blood type received a second set of organs at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina; however, Jesica (cq) Santillan (sahn-TEE’-yahn) suffered brain damage and later died.
Five years ago: A U.S. Navy cruiser blasted a disabled spy satellite with a pinpoint missile strike that achieved the main mission of exploding a tank of toxic fuel 130 miles above the Pacific Ocean. Space shuttle Atlantis and its crew returned to Earth, after delivering a new European lab to the international space station.
One year ago: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (dih-MEE’-tree med-VYEH’-dyev) held an unprecedented meeting with opposition leaders, who said they were encouraged by his promises to make it easier for anti-Kremlin parties to take part in elections. Former senator and astronaut John Glenn celebrated the 50th anniversary of his history-making space flight at Ohio State University by kicking off a forum about NASA’s future.
Today’s Birthdays: Gloria Vanderbilt is 89. Author-screenwriter Richard Matheson is 87. Actor Sidney Poitier is 86. Racing Hall of Famer Bobby Unser is 79. Actress Marj Dusay is 77. Jazz-soul singer Nancy Wilson is 76. Racing Hall of Famer Roger Penske is 76. Singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie is 72. Hockey Hall-of-Famer Phil Esposito is 71. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is 71. Movie director Mike Leigh is 70. Actress Brenda Blethyn is 67. Actress Sandy Duncan is 67. Rock musician J. Geils is 67. Actor Peter Strauss is 66. Rock singer-musician-producer Walter Becker (Steely Dan) is 63. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is 62. Country singer Kathie Baillie is 62. Actor John Voldstad is 62. Newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst is 59. Actor Anthony Stewart Head is 59. Country singer Leland Martin is 56. Actor James Wilby is 55. Rock musician Sebastian Steinberg is 54. Comedian Joel Hodgson (HAHD’-suhn) is 53. Basketball Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkley is 50. Rock musician Ian Brown (Stone Roses) is 50. Actor Willie Garson is 49. Actor French Stewart is 49. Actor Ron Eldard is 48. Model Cindy Crawford is 47. Actor Andrew Shue is 46. Actress Lili Taylor is 46. Singer Brian Littrell is 38. Actress Lauren Ambrose is 35. Actor Jay Hernandez is 35. Country musician Coy Bowles is 34. Actress Majandra Delfino is 32. Singer-musician Chris Thile (THEE’-lee) is 32. Actor Jake Richardson is 28. Singer Rihanna is 25.
Thought for Today: “There is no hope of joy except in human relations.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupery, French author-aviator (1900-1944).