Today’s Highlight in History:
On March 27, 2006, Al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui (zak-uh-REE’-uhs moo-SOW’-ee) testified at his federal trial that he was supposed to hijack a fifth airplane on Sept. 11, 2001, and fly it into the White House.
On this date:
In 1513, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon (hwahn pahns duh LEE’-ohn) sighted present-day Florida.
In 1933, Japan officially withdrew from the League of Nations.
In 1945, during World War II, General Dwight D. Eisenhower told reporters in Paris that German defenses on the Western Front had been broken.
In 1958, Nikita Khrushchev became Soviet premier in addition to First Secretary of the Communist Party.
In 1964, Alaska was hit by a magnitude 9.2 earthquake (the strongest on record in North America) and tsunamis that together claimed about 130 lives.
In 1968, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (gah-GAH’-rihn), the first man to orbit the Earth in 1961, died when his MiG-15 jet crashed during a routine training flight near Moscow; he was 34.
In 1973, “The Godfather” won the Academy Award for best picture of 1972, but its star, Marlon Brando, refused to accept his Oscar for best actor. Liza Minnelli won best actress for “Cabaret.”
In 1975, construction began on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which was completed two years later.
In 1977, in aviation’s worst disaster, 583 people were killed when a KLM Boeing 747, attempting to take off in heavy fog, crashed into a Pan Am 747 on an airport runway on the Canary Island of Tenerife (ten-uh-REEF’).
In 1980, 123 workers died when a North Sea floating oil field platform, the Alexander Kielland, capsized during a storm.
In 1990, the U.S. began test broadcasts of TV Marti to Cuba, which promptly jammed the signal.
In 2005, Pope John Paul II delivered an Easter Sunday blessing to tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square, but the ailing pontiff was unable to speak and managed only to greet the saddened crowd with a sign of the cross. In a live Internet interview with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Michael Jackson declared himself “completely innocent” of child molestation charges, and said he was the victim of a conspiracy.
Ten years ago: Lights were switched off across the world from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time to mark Earth Hour, an event organized by the World Wildlife Fund to highlight concerns about global warming. President Barack Obama announced he would bypass a vacationing Senate and name 15 people to key administration jobs using recess appointments. Mao Asada of Japan beat Olympic champion Yuna Kim of South Korea to win her second title at the World Figure Skating Championships, held in Turin, Italy.
Five years ago: Italy’s highest court overturned the murder conviction of Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend in the 2007 slaying of Knox’s roommate, bringing to a definitive end the high-profile case that had captivated trial-watchers on both sides of the Atlantic. U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced he would retire the following year.
One year ago: A Wisconsin man, Jake Patterson, pleaded guilty to kidnapping 13-year-old Jayme Closs and killing her parents; the plea spared the girl from the possible trauma of having to testify at his trial. (Patterson was sentenced to life in prison.) Facebook said it was extending its ban on hate speech to prohibit the promotion and support of white nationalism and white separatism.
Today’s Birthdays: Actor Julian Glover is 85. Actor Jerry Lacy is 84. Hall of Fame racer Cale Yarborough is 81. Actor-director Austin Pendleton is 80. Actor Michael York is 78. Rock musician Tony Banks (Genesis) is 70. Rock musician Andrew Farriss (INXS) is 61. Jazz musician Dave Koz (kahz) is 57. Movie director Quentin Tarantino is 57. Rock musician Derrick McKenzie (Jamiroquai) is 56. Rock musician Johnny April (Staind) is 55. Actress Talisa Soto is 53. Actor Ben Koldyke is 52. Actress Pauley Perrette is 51. Singer Mariah Carey is 50. Rock musician Brendan Hill (Blues Traveler) is 50. Actress Elizabeth Mitchell is 50. Actor Nathan Fillion is 49. Hip-hop singer Fergie is 45. Jazz musician Tia Fuller is 44. Actress Emily Ann Lloyd is 36. MLB catcher Buster Posey is 33. Actress Brenda Song is 32. Pop singer-songwriter Kimbra is 30. Actress Taylor Atelian is 25. Actress/R&B singer Halle Bailey is 20. Classical crossover singer Amira Willighagen (TV: “Holland’s Got Talent”) is 16.
Thought for Today: “Fear grows in darkness; if you think there’s a bogeyman around, turn on the light.” — Dorothy Thompson, American journalist (1894-1961). Photo provided by: Time Magazine