Today in History: The Twitter era begins

Today in History

Today is Thursday, March 21, the 80th day of 2019. There are 285 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On March 21, 2006, the social media website Twitter was established with the sending of the first “tweet” by co-founder Jack Dorsey, who wrote: “just setting up my twttr.”

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On this date:

In 1556, Thomas Cranmer, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, was burned at the stake for heresy.

In 1685, composer Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Eisenach, Germany.

In 1788, fire broke out in New Orleans on Good Friday, destroying 856 out of more than 1,100 structures; one death was reported.

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In 1918, during World War I, Germany launched its Spring Offensive on the Western Front, hoping to break through the Allied lines before American reinforcements could arrive. (Although successful at first, the Spring Offensive ultimately failed.)

In 1925, Tennessee Gov. Austin Peay (pee) signed the Butler Act, which prohibited the teaching of the Theory of Evolution in public schools. (Tennessee repealed the law in 1967.)

In 1935, Persia officially changed its name to Iran.

In 1945, during World War II, Allied bombers began four days of raids over Germany.

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In 1963, the Alcatraz federal prison island in San Francisco Bay was emptied of its last inmates and closed at the order of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.

In 1976, champion skier Vladimir “Spider” Sabich was shot and killed by his girlfriend, actress-singer Claudine Longet, in the home they had shared in Aspen, Colorado; Longet, who maintained the shooting was an accident, served 30 days in jail for negligent homicide.

In 1981, Michael Donald, a black teenager in Mobile, Alabama, was abducted, tortured and killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan. (A lawsuit brought by Donald’s mother, Beulah Mae Donald, later resulted in a landmark judgment that bankrupted one Klan organization.)

In 1990, Namibia became an independent nation as the former colony marked the end of 75 years of South African rule.

In 2007, former Vice President Al Gore made an emotional return to Congress as he pleaded with House and Senate committees to fight global warming; skeptical Republicans questioned the science behind his climate-change documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Ten years ago: In Oakland, Calif., parolee Lovelle Mixon shot and killed two motorcycle officers, then killed two SWAT team members while holed up in an apartment before he was killed by law enforcement. A busload of activists representing working- and middle-class families paid visits to the lavish Connecticut homes of American International Group executives to protest the tens of millions of dollars in bonuses awarded by the struggling insurance company after it had received a massive federal bailout. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (hah-meh-neh-EE’) dismissed overtures from President Barack Obama, saying Tehran did not see any change in U.S. policy under its new administration.

Five years ago: A federal judge ruled that Michigan’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional, striking down a law widely embraced by voters a decade earlier. (More than 300 same-sex couples in four Michigan counties wed the next day before an appeals court suspended the decision; two Detroit-area nurses are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the marriage ban.) Character actor James Rebhorn, 65, died in South Orange, New Jersey.

One year ago: As a SWAT team moved in on his SUV, Mark Conditt, the suspect in the deadly bombings that had terrorized Austin, Texas for three weeks, used one of his own devices to take his own life. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized for a “major breach of trust;” the apology came after it was revealed that the data mining firm Cambridge Analytica, whose clients included the Trump campaign, may have used data improperly obtained from Facebook users to try to sway elections. The fourth nor’easter in three weeks dumped more than a foot of snow on some parts of the East Coast.

Today’s Birthdays: Actress Kathleen Widdoes is 80. Songwriter Chip Taylor (“Wild Thing”) is 79. Folk-pop singer-musician Keith Potger (The Seekers) is 78. Actress Marie-Christine Barrault is 75. Singer-musician Rose Stone (Sly and the Family Stone) is 74. Actor Timothy Dalton is 73. Singer Ray Dorset (Mungo Jerry) is 73. Singer Eddie Money is 70. Rock singer-musician Roger Hodgson (Supertramp) is 69. Rock musician Conrad Lozano (Los Lobos) is 68. Rhythm-and-blues singer Russell Thompkins Jr. is 68. Comedy writer-performer Brad Hall is 61. Actress Sabrina LeBeauf is 61. Actor Gary Oldman is 61. Actress Kassie Depaiva is 58. Actor Matthew Broderick is 57. Comedian-actress Rosie O’Donnell is 57. Actress Cynthia Geary is 54. Rock musician Jonas “Joker” Berggren (Ace of Base) is 52. Rock MC Maxim (Prodigy) is 52. Rock musician Andrew Copeland (Sister Hazel) is 51. Hip-hop DJ Premier (Gang Starr) is 50. Actress Laura Allen is 45. Rapper-TV personality Kevin Federline is 41. Actress Sonequa Martin-Green (TV: “The Walking Dead”) is 34. Actor Scott Eastwood is 33. Actress Jasmin Savoy Brown is 25. Actor Forrest Wheeler is 15.

Thought for Today: “Never lose your temper with the press or the public is a major rule of political life.” — Dame Christabel Pankhurst, English suffragist (1880-1958).