Today is Wednesday, Feb. 7, the 38th day of 2018. There are 327 days left in the year.
Today’s highlight: On Feb. 7, 1943, the government abruptly announced that wartime rationing of shoes made of leather would go into effect in two days, limiting consumers to buying three pairs per person per year. (Rationing was lifted in October 1945.)
On this date:
In 1497, “The Bonfire of the Vanities” took place in Florence, Italy, as followers of Dominican friar Girolama Savonarola burned a huge pile of items considered to be sinful distractions, such as books, artwork, fine clothing and cosmetics.
In 1795, the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, dealing with states’ sovereign immunity, was ratified.
In 1817, America’s first public gas street lamp was lighted in Baltimore at the corner of Market and Lemon streets (now East Baltimore and Holliday streets).
In 1857, a French court acquitted author Gustave Flaubert of obscenity for his serialized novel “Madame Bovary.”
In 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized a flag for the office of the vice president.
In 1948, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower resigned as U.S. Army chief of staff; he was succeeded by Gen. Omar Bradley.
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy imposed a full trade embargo on Cuba.
In 1971, women in Switzerland gained the right to vote through a national referendum, 12 years after a previous attempt failed.
In 1984, space shuttle Challenger astronauts Bruce McCandless II and Robert L. Stewart went on the first untethered spacewalk, which lasted nearly six hours.
In 1986, the Philippines held a presidential election marred by charges of fraud against the incumbent, Ferdinand E. Marcos. Haitian President-for-Life Jean-Claude Duvalier fled his country, ending 28 years of his family’s rule.
In 1998, the Winter Olympic Games were opened in Nagano, Japan, by Emperor Akihito.
In 1999, Jordan’s King Hussein died of cancer at age 63; he was succeeded by his eldest son, Abdullah.
Ten years ago: John McCain effectively sealed the Republican presidential nomination as chief rival Mitt Romney suspended his campaign. Fourteen refinery workers were killed in a sugar dust explosion in Port Wentworth, Georgia. A gunman opened fire at a Kirkwood, Missouri, council meeting, killing three city officials and two police officers before being fatally shot by law enforcement. In Los Angeles, a man who claimed responsibility for the deaths of three relatives opened fire on a SWAT unit, killing one officer; the gunman was killed by a police sniper. After two months of delay, shuttle Atlantis blasted into orbit with Europe’s gift to the international space station, a $2 billion science lab named Columbus.
Five years ago: CIA Director-designate John Brennan strongly defended anti-terror attacks by unmanned drones under close questioning at a protest-disrupted confirmation hearing held by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
One year ago: Charter school advocate Betsy DeVos won confirmation as education secretary by the slimmest of margins, pushed to approval only by the historic tie-breaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence. Actor Richard Hatch, perhaps best known for playing Captain Apollo in the original “Battlestar Galactica” film and TV series, died in Los Angeles at age 71.
Today’s birthdays: Author Gay Talese is 86. Former Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., is 83. Reggae musician Brian Travers (UB40) is 59. Comedy writer Robert Smigel is 58. Actor James Spader is 58. Country singer Garth Brooks is 56. Rock musician David Bryan (Bon Jovi) is 56. Actor-comedian Eddie Izzard is 56. Actor-comedian Chris Rock is 53. Actor Jason Gedrick is 51. Actress Essence Atkins is 46. Rock singer-musician Wes Borland is 43. Rock musician Tom Blankenship (My Morning Jacket) is 40. Actor Ashton Kutcher is 40. Actress Tina Majorino is 33. Actress Deborah Ann Woll is 33. NBA player Isaiah Thomas is 29.
Thought for today: “Do not read as children do to enjoy themselves, or, as the ambitious do to educate themselves. No, read to live.” — Gustave Flaubert, French author (1821-1880).
— Associated Press