Today in History: Big Mac comes to Moscow


Today in History

Today is Thursday, Jan. 31, the 31st day of 2019. There are 334 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Jan. 31, 1971, astronauts Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell and Stuart Roosa blasted off aboard Apollo 14 on a mission to the moon.

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On this date:

In 1606, Englishman Guy Fawkes, convicted of high treason for his part in the “Gunpowder Plot,” was set to be hanged, drawn and quartered, but broke his neck after falling or jumping from the scaffold.

In 1863, during the Civil War, the First South Carolina Volunteers, an all-black Union regiment composed of former slaves, was mustered into federal service at Beaufort, South Carolina.

In 1865, the U.S. House of Representatives joined the Senate in passing the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution abolishing slavery, sending it to states for ratification. (The amendment was adopted in December 1865.) Gen. Robert E. Lee was named general-in-chief of the Confederate States Army by President Jefferson Davis.

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In 1917, during World War I, Germany served notice that it was beginning a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare.

In 1929, revolutionary Leon Trotsky and his family were expelled from the Soviet Union.

In 1945, Pvt. Eddie Slovik, 24, became the first U.S. soldier since the Civil War to be executed for desertion as he was shot by an American firing squad in France.

In 1950, President Harry S. Truman announced he had ordered development of the hydrogen bomb.

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In 1958, the United States entered the Space Age with its first successful launch of a satellite, Explorer 1, from Cape Canaveral.

In 1961, NASA launched Ham the Chimp aboard a Mercury-Redstone rocket from Cape Canaveral; Ham was recovered safely from the Atlantic Ocean following his 16 1/2-minute suborbital flight.

In 1990, McDonald’s Corp. opened its first fast-food restaurant in Moscow.

In 2000, an Alaska Airlines MD-83 jet crashed into the Pacific Ocean off Port Hueneme, California, killing all 88 people aboard.

In 2005, Jury selection began in Santa Maria, California, for Michael Jackson’s child molestation trial. (Jackson was later acquitted.)

Ten years ago: Iraqis passed through security checkpoints and razor-wire cordons to vote in provincial elections considered a crucial test of the nation’s stability. A gasoline spill from a crashed truck erupted into flames in Molo, Kenya, killing at least 115 people. Serena Williams routed Dinara Safina 6-0, 6-3 to win her fourth Australian Open. Bruce Smith and Rod Woodson were elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility; they were joined by Bob Hayes, Randall McDaniel, Derrick Thomas and Buffalo owner Ralph Wilson.

Five years ago: The long-delayed, controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline cleared a major hurdle toward approval as the U.S. State Department reported no major environmental objections to the proposed $7 billion project. A week of peace talks aimed at stemming Syria’s civil war ended in Geneva with no concrete progress.

One year ago: A train carrying dozens of Republican members of Congress to a strategy retreat crashed into a garbage truck in rural Virginia, killing one person in the truck and injuring others; there were no serious injuries aboard the chartered Amtrak train. Republican congressman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, who became known for leading a House panel’s investigation into the 2012 attacks against Americans in Benghazi, Libya, announced that he would be retiring from Congress after his term expired. Much of the world was treated to a rare triple lunar treat – a total lunar eclipse combined with a particularly close full moon that was also the second full moon of the month.

Today’s Birthdays: Composer Philip Glass is 82. Former Interior Secretary James Watt is 81. Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, the former queen regent, is 81. Actor Stuart Margolin is 79. Actress Jessica Walter is 78. Former U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., is 78. Blues singer-musician Charlie Musselwhite is 75. Actor Glynn Turman is 73. Baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan is 72. Actor Jonathan Banks is 72. Singer-musician Harry Wayne Casey (KC and the Sunshine Band) is 68. Rock singer Johnny Rotten is 63. Actress Kelly Lynch is 60. Actor Anthony LaPaglia is 60. Singer-musician Lloyd Cole is 58. Actress Paulette Braxton is 54. Rock musician Al Jaworski (Jesus Jones) is 53. Actress Minnie Driver is 49. Actress Portia de Rossi is 46. Actor-comedian Bobby Moynihan is 42. Actress Kerry Washington is 42. Bluegrass singer-musician Becky Buller is 40. Singer Justin Timberlake is 38. Actor Tyler Ritter is 34. Country singer Tyler Hubbard (Florida Georgia Line) is 32. Folk-rock singer-musician Marcus Mumford (Mumford and Sons) is 32. Actor Joel Courtney is 23.

Thought for Today: “We live in a moment of history where change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing.” — R.D. Laing, Scottish psychiatrist (1927-1989).