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Culture Today in History: Heaven's Gate in 1997

Today in History: Heaven’s Gate in 1997

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Today in History

Today is Tuesday, March 26, the 85th day of 2019. There are 280 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On March 26, 1979, a peace treaty was signed by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and witnessed by President Jimmy Carter at the White House.

On this date:

In 1812, an earthquake devastated Caracas, Venezuela, causing an estimated 26,000 deaths, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

In 1827, composer Ludwig van Beethoven died in Vienna.

In 1934, Britain enacted a Road Traffic Act reimposing a 30 mile-per-hour speed limit in “built-up areas” and requiring driving tests for new motorists.

In 1945, during World War II, Iwo Jima was fully secured by U.S. forces following a final, desperate attack by Japanese soldiers. Former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, 82, died in Ty Newydd, Llanystumdwy, Wales.

In 1962, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Baker v. Carr, gave federal courts the power to order reapportionment of states’ legislative districts.

In 1967, Pope Paul VI issued an encyclical, “Populorum Progressio,” on “the progressive development of peoples,” in which he expressed concern for those trying to escape hunger, poverty, endemic disease and ignorance.

In 1988, Jesse Jackson stunned fellow Democrats by soundly defeating Michael S. Dukakis in Michigan’s Democratic presidential caucuses.

In 1989, the science-fiction TV series “Quantum Leap,” starring Scott Bakula as an errant time-traveler, premiered on NBC.

In 1992, a judge in Indianapolis sentenced former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson to six years in prison for raping a Miss Black America contestant. (Tyson ended up serving three years.)

In 1997, the bodies of 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate techno-religious cult who committed suicide were found inside a rented mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, California.

In 2005, German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger stood in for Pope John Paul II during the Easter Vigil Mass at the Vatican. (Ratzinger later succeeded John Paul, becoming Pope Benedict XVI.)

In 2013, Italy’s top criminal court overturned the acquittal of American Amanda Knox in the grisly murder of British roommate Meredith Kercher and ordered Knox to stand trial again. (Although convicted in absentia, Knox was exonerated by the Italian Supreme Court in 2015.)

Ten years ago: President Barack Obama held an unprecedented Internet town hall from the White House as he made a direct sales pitch for his $3.6 trillion budget. A 23,000-ton Norwegian-owned vessel with a crew of 27 was hijacked by pirates off the Somali coastline. (The Bow Asir was released two weeks later.) A Soyuz capsule carrying a Russian-American crew and U.S billionaire space tourist Charles Simonyi blasted off for the international space station. All-Star shortstop Miguel Tejada received a sentence of a year’s probation for misleading Congress about an ex-teammate’s use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Five years ago: Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, was convicted in New York for his role as al-Qaida’s fiery chief spokesman after 9/11. (He was later sentenced to life in prison.)

One year ago: The Commerce Department said the 2020 U.S. Census would include a question about citizenship status; opponents said the question would discourage immigrants from responding to the census. (The Supreme Court will hear arguments next month on a challenge to the citizenship question.) A toxicology report obtained by The Associated Press revealed that the late pop music superstar Prince had levels of fentanyl in his body that multiple experts described as “exceedingly high.” Two women and their six adopted children were killed when one of the women drove their SUV off a cliff into the ocean about 150 miles north of San Francisco; authorities said Jennifer Hart was drunk when she intentionally drove the vehicle over the cliff.

Today’s Birthdays: Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is 89. Actor Alan Arkin is 85. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is 84. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is 79. Actor James Caan is 79. Author Erica Jong is 77. Journalist Bob Woodward is 76. Singer Diana Ross is 75. Actor Johnny Crawford is 73. Rock singer Steven Tyler (Aerosmith) is 71. Singer and TV personality Vicki Lawrence is 70. Actor Ernest Thomas is 70. Comedian Martin Short is 69. Country singer Ronnie McDowell is 69. Movie composer Alan Silvestri is 69. Rock musician Monte Yoho is 67. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is 66. Radio talk show host Curtis Sliwa is 65. Country singer Dean Dillon is 64. Country singer Charly McClain is 63. TV personality Leeza Gibbons is 62. Actress Ellia English is 60. Actress Jennifer Grey is 59. College and Pro Football Hall of Famer Marcus Allen is 59. Actor Billy Warlock is 58. Actor Eric Allan Kramer is 57. Basketball and College Basketball Hall of Famer John Stockton is 57. Actor Michael Imperioli is 53. Rock musician James Iha (EE’-hah) is 51. Country singer Kenny Chesney is 51. Movie director Martin McDonagh (Film: “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”) is 49. Actress Leslie Mann is 47. Actor T.R. Knight is 46. Rapper Juvenile is 44. Actress Amy Smart is 43. Actress Bianca Kajlich (KY’-lihk) is 42. Moderator Margaret Brennan (TV: “Face the Nation”) is 39. Actor Sterling Sulieman is 35. Actress Keira Knightley is 34. Rapper J-Kwon is 33. Actress Carly Chaikin is 29.

Thought for Today: “Make voyages. Attempt them. There’s nothing else.” — Tennessee Williams, American playwright (1911-1983).

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