Today in History: Feb. 16

Today is Friday, Feb. 16, the 47th day of 2018. There are 318 days left in the year. This is the Chinese New Year of the Dog.

Today’s highlight: On Feb. 16, 1968, the nation’s first 911 emergency telephone system was inaugurated in Haleyville, Alabama, as the speaker of the Alabama House, Rankin Fite, placed a call from the mayor’s office in City Hall to a red telephone at the police station (also located in City Hall) that was answered by U.S. Rep. Tom Bevill.

On this date:

In 1804, Lt. Stephen Decatur led a successful raid into Tripoli Harbor to burn the U.S. Navy frigate Philadelphia, which had fallen into the hands of pirates during the First Barbary War.

In 1862, the Civil War Battle of Fort Donelson in Tennessee ended as some 12,000 Confederate soldiers surrendered; Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s victory earned him the moniker “Unconditional Surrender Grant.”

In 1868, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was organized in New York City.

In 1918, Lithuania proclaimed its independence from the Russian Empire. (Lithuania, which was occupied by the Soviet Union, then Nazi Germany, then the Soviet Union again during World War II, renewed its independence in 1990).

In 1923, the burial chamber of King Tutankhamen’s recently unearthed tomb was unsealed in Egypt by English archaeologist Howard Carter.

In 1937, Du Pont research chemist Dr. Wallace H. Carothers, inventor of nylon, received a patent for the synthetic fiber, described as “linear condensation polymers.”

In 1945, American troops landed on the island of Corregidor in the Philippines during World War II.

In 1959, Fidel Castro became premier of Cuba a month and a-half after the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista.

In 1961, the United States launched the Explorer 9 satellite.

In 1977, Janani Luwum, the Anglican archbishop of Uganda, died in what Ugandan authorities said was an automobile accident, although it’s generally believed that he was shot to death by agents of Idi Amin.

In 1988, seven people were shot to death during an office rampage in Sunnyvale, California, by a man obsessed with a co-worker who was wounded in the attack. (The gunman is on death row.)

In 1998, a China Airlines Airbus A300 trying to land in fog near Taipei, Taiwan, crashed, killing all 196 people on board, plus seven on the ground.

Ten years ago: President George W. Bush, on a six-day tour of Africa, made his first stop in Benin before flying on to Tanzania. John McCain, the presumed Republican presidential nominee, picked up a total of 50 GOP national convention delegates from Michigan and Louisiana. A car plowed into a group of street-racing fans obscured by a cloud of tire smoke on an isolated Maryland highway, killing eight people in the early morning darkness.

Five years ago: Gunmen attacked a camp for a construction company in rural northern Nigeria, killing a guard and kidnapping seven workers from Lebanon, Britain, Greece and Italy; the kidnappers later claimed to have killed the hostages. Billy Hunter was ousted as executive director of the National Basketball Players Association by NBA players. Tony Sheridan, 72, a British singer who performed with the Beatles during their early years in Germany, died in Hamburg.

One year ago: In the first full-length news conference of his presidency, Donald Trump denounced what he called the “criminal” leaks that took down his top national security adviser, Michael Flynn. President Trump named Alexander Acosta as his new choice for labor secretary, a day after Andrew Puzder abruptly withdrew. Immigrants around the U.S. stayed home from work and school to demonstrate how important they were to America’s economy, and many businesses closed in solidarity. A California man pleaded guilty in federal court in Riverside to providing the high-powered rifles used to kill 14 people in the 2015 San Bernardino terror attack (sentencing is expected later this year).

Today’s birthdays: Jazz/pop singer-actress Peggy King is 88. Actor Jeremy Bulloch is 73. Actor William Katt is 67. Rhythm-and-blues singer James Ingram is 66. Actor LeVar Burton is 61. Actor-rapper Ice-T is 60. Actress Lisa Loring is 60. International Tennis Hall of Famer John McEnroe is 59. Rock musician Andy Taylor is 57. Rock musician Dave Lombardo (Slayer) is 53. Actress Sarah Clarke is 47. Olympic gold medal runner Cathy Freeman is 45. Actor Mahershala Ali is 44. Singer Sam Salter is 43. Electronic dance music artist Bassnectar is 40. Rapper Lupe Fiasco is 36. Actress Chloe Wepper is 32. Pop-rock singer Ryan Follese is 31. Rock musician Danielle Haim is 29. Actress Elizabeth Olsen is 29. Actor Mike Weinberg is 25.

Thought for today: “There are two ways to slice easily through life; to believe everything or to doubt everything. Both ways save us from thinking.” — Alfred Korzybski, Polish-American linguist (1879-1950).

— Associated Press

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