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Culture Today in History: Big explosion in Texas City

Today in History: Big explosion in Texas City

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Today in History

Today is Tuesday, April 16, the 106th day of 2019. There are 259 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On April 16, 2007, in one of America’s worst school attacks, a college senior killed 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech before taking his own life.

On this date:

In 1789, President-elect George Washington left Mount Vernon, Virginia, for his inauguration in New York.

In 1862, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill ending slavery in the District of Columbia. The Confederacy conscripted all white men between the ages of 18 to 35.

In 1889, comedian and movie director Charles Chaplin was born in London.

In 1945, during World War II, a Soviet submarine in the Baltic Sea torpedoed and sank the MV Goya, which Germany was using to transport civilian refugees and wounded soldiers; it’s estimated that up to 7,000 people died.

In 1947, the cargo ship Grandcamp, carrying ammonium nitrate, blew up in the harbor in Texas City, Texas; a nearby ship, the High Flyer, which was carrying ammonium nitrate and sulfur, caught fire and exploded the following day; the blasts and fires killed nearly 600 people. At the South Carolina statehouse, financier Bernard M. Baruch declared: “Let us not be deceived — we are today in the midst of a cold war.”

In 1962, New Orleans Archbishop Joseph Rummel excommunicated three local Roman Catholics for fighting racial integration of parochial schools.

In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in which the civil rights activist responded to a group of local clergymen who had criticized him for leading street protests; King defended his tactics, writing, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

In 1972, Apollo 16 blasted off on a voyage to the moon with astronauts John W. Young, Charles M. Duke Jr. and Ken Mattingly on board.

In 1986, dispelling rumors he was dead, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi (MOO’-ah-mar gah-DAH’-fee) appeared on television to condemn the U.S. raid on his country and to say that Libyans were “ready to die” defending their nation.

In 1996, Britain’s Prince Andrew and his wife, Sarah, the Duchess of York, announced they were in the process of divorcing.

In 2003, the Bush administration lowered the terror alert level from orange to yellow, saying the end of heavy fighting in Iraq had diminished the threat of terrorism in the United States.

In 2008, the Supreme Court upheld, 7-2, the most widely used method of lethal injection, allowing states to resume executions after a seven-month halt. Pope Benedict XVI was welcomed by President George W. Bush as only the second pontiff to visit the White House (after John Paul II) and the first in 29 years.

Ten years ago: President Barack Obama issued a statement saying CIA officials who’d used harsh interrogation tactics during the Bush administration would not be prosecuted; the president traveled to Mexico, where he pledged to help the country in its battle against drugs and violence. The crew of the cargo ship Maersk Alabama, who’d thwarted pirates off the Somali coast, returned to the U.S.; ship’s captain Richard Phillips, held hostage for five days, arrived in Kenya aboard the USS Bainbridge. U.N. nuclear experts who’d been ordered to leave by North Korea departed the country. The Cleveland Indians ruined the Yankees’ first game at their new stadium by beating New York 10-2.

Five years ago: More than 300 people, mostly students, died when a South Korean ferry, the Sewol, sank while en route from Incheon to the resort island of Jeju; 172 people survived.

One year ago: The New York Times and The New Yorker won the Pulitzer Prize for public service for breaking the Harvey Weinstein scandal with reporting that galvanized the #MeToo movement. Rap star Kendrick Lamar was awarded the Pulitzer for music, becoming the first non-classical or non-jazz artist to win the prize. American pastor Andrew Brunson went on trial in Turkey in a case that strained ties between that country and the United States; he denied accusations that he aided terror groups or spied against Turkey. (Brunson was convicted but sentenced to time served and was freed from house arrest in October to return to the United States.) Actor Harry Anderson, best known for playing an off-the-wall judge working the night shift of a Manhattan court room on the comedy series “Night Court,” was found dead in his North Carolina home; he was 65.

Today’s Birthdays: Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI is 92. Actor Peter Mark Richman is 92. Singer Bobby Vinton is 84. Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II is 79. Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is 72. Former Massachusetts first lady Ann Romney is 70. NFL coach Bill Belichick is 67. Rock singer and former politician Peter Garrett is 66. Actress Ellen Barkin is 65. Actor Michel Gill is 59. Rock musician Jason Scheff (Chicago) is 57. Singer Jimmy Osmond is 56. Rock singer David Pirner (Soul Asylum) is 55. Actor-comedian Martin Lawrence is 54. Actor Jon Cryer is 54. Rock musician Dan Rieser is 53. Actor Peter Billingsley is 48. Actor Lukas Haas is 43. Actress-singer Kelli O’Hara is 43. Actress Claire Foy (TV: “The Crown”) is 35. Figure skater Mirai Nagasu is 26. Actress Sadie Sink is 17.

Thought for Today: “The only graceful way to accept an insult is to ignore it; if you can’t ignore it, top it; if you can’t top it, laugh at it; if you can’t laugh at it, it’s probably deserved.” — Russell Lynes, American writer (1910-1991).

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