Today in History

Today is Saturday, March 21, the 81st day of 2020. There are 285 days left in the year.

  • Saturday, March 21, 2020 1:30am
  • Life

Today is Saturday, March 21, the 81st day of 2020. There are 285 days left in the year.

Today’s highlight: On March 21, 1685, composer Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Eisenach, Germany.

On this date:

In 1871, journalist Henry M. Stanley began his famous expedition in Africa to locate the missing Scottish missionary David Livingstone.

In 1918, during World War I, Germany launched its Spring Offensive on the Western Front, hoping to break through the Allied lines before American reinforcements could arrive. (Although successful at first, the Spring Offensive ultimately failed.)

In 1945, during World War II, Allied bombers began four days of raids over Germany.

In 1963, the Alcatraz federal prison island in San Francisco Bay was emptied of its last inmates and closed at the order of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.

In 1972, the Supreme Court, in Dunn v. Blumstein, ruled that states may not require at least a year’s residency for voting eligibility.

In 1976, champion skier Vladimir “Spider” Sabich was shot and killed by his girlfriend, actress-singer Claudine Longet, in the home they had shared in Aspen, Colorado; Longet, who maintained the shooting was an accident, served 30 days in jail for negligent homicide.

In 1981, Michael Donald, a black teenager in Mobile, Alabama, was abducted, tortured and killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan. (A lawsuit brought by Donald’s mother, Beulah Mae Donald, later resulted in a landmark judgment that bankrupted one Klan organization.)

In 1990, Namibia became an independent nation as the former colony marked the end of 75 years of South African rule.

In 1997, President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin wrapped up their summit in Helsinki, Finland, still deadlocked over NATO expansion, but able to agree on slashing nuclear weapons arsenals.

In 2006, the social media website Twitter was established with the sending of the first “tweet” by co-founder Jack Dorsey, who wrote: “just setting up my twttr.”

In 2007, former Vice President Al Gore made an emotional return to Congress as he pleaded with House and Senate committees to fight global warming; skeptical Republicans questioned the science behind his climate-change documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

In 2017, on the second day of his Senate confirmation hearing, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch declared he’d made no promises to President Donald Trump or anyone else about how he would vote on abortion or other issues.

Ten years ago: Frustrated with the pace of action to overhaul the country’s immigration system, thousands of immigrant rights supporters descended on the nation’s capital, waving American flags and holding homemade signs in English and Spanish. France’s long-flailing political left made a big comeback, crushing President Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservatives in regional elections.

Five years ago: President Barack Obama, in an interview with The Huffington Post, said he took Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “at his word” for saying an independent Palestinian state would never co-exist with Israel as long as he was in office, yet another sign of the strained relations between longtime allies. A super tide turned France’s famed Mount Saint-Michel into an island and then retreated out of sight, delighting thousands of visitors who had come to see the rare phenomenon. In Meribel, France, Marcel Hirscher of Austria became the first skier to win the men’s World Cup overall title for a fourth straight year.

One year ago: President Donald Trump abruptly declared that the U.S. would recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heights, a major shift in American policy. A Florida man, Cesar Sayoc, pleaded guilty to sending pipe bombs to CNN and prominent critics of President Donald Trump in the days before the 2018 midterm elections; no one was harmed. (Sayoc was later sentenced to 20 years in prison by a judge who concluded that the bombs were not designed to explode.) Facebook acknowledged that it had left hundreds of millions of user passwords readable by its employees for years, storing them in readable plain text. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed one of the nation’s strictest abortion laws, one that would ban most abortions once a fetal heartbeat could be detected, about six weeks into pregnancy. (A federal judge blocked the law from taking effect.) Ichiro Suzuki, a batting star in Japan and with the Seattle Mariners, played in his final game at the age of 45; it was the second of two games in Japan between the Mariners and the Oakland Athletics.

Today’s birthdays: Actress Kathleen Widdoes is 81. Songwriter Chip Taylor (“Wild Thing”) is 80. Folk-pop singer-musician Keith Potger (The Seekers) is 79. Actress Marie-Christine Barrault is 76. Singer-musician Rose Stone (Sly and the Family Stone) is 75. Actor Timothy Dalton is 74. Singer Ray Dorset (Mungo Jerry) is 74. Rock singer-musician Roger Hodgson (Supertramp) is 70. Rock musician Conrad Lozano (Los Lobos) is 69. Rhythm-and-blues singer Russell Thompkins Jr. is 69. Comedy writer-performer Brad Hall is 62. Actress Sabrina LeBeauf is 62. Actor Gary Oldman is 62. Actress Kassie Depaiva is 59. Actor Matthew Broderick is 58. Comedian-actress Rosie O’Donnell is 58. Actress Cynthia Geary is 55. Hip-hop DJ Premier (Gang Starr) is 54. Rock musician Jonas “Joker” Berggren (Ace of Base) is 53. Rock MC Maxim (Prodigy) is 53. Rock musician Andrew Copeland (Sister Hazel) is 52. Actress Laura Allen is 46. Rapper-TV personality Kevin Federline is 42. Actress Sonequa Martin-Green (TV: “The Walking Dead”) is 35. Actor Scott Eastwood is 34. Tennis player Karolina Pliskova is 28. Actress Jasmin Savoy Brown is 26. Actor Forrest Wheeler is 16.

Thought for today: “Is it worse to be scared than to be bored, that is the question.” — Gertrude Stein, American writer (1874-1946)

— Associated Press

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