Today’s Highlight in History:
On June 11, 1776, the Continental Congress formed a committee to draft a Declaration of Independence calling for freedom from Britain.
On this date:
In 1770, Captain James Cook, commander of the British ship Endeavour, “discovered” the Great Barrier Reef off Australia by running onto it.
In 1864, German composer Richard (REE’-hard) Strauss was born in Munich.
In 1936, Kansas Gov. Alfred “Alf” Landon was nominated for president at the Republican national convention in Cleveland.
In 1947, the government announced the end of sugar rationing for households and “institutional users” (e.g., restaurants and hotels) as of midnight.
In 1955, in motor racing’s worst disaster, more than 80 people were killed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France when two of the cars collided and crashed into spectators.
In 1962, three prisoners at Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay staged an escape, leaving the island on a makeshift raft; they were never found or heard from again.
In 1970, the United States presence in Libya came to an end as the last detachment left Wheelus Air Base. (The anniversary of this event is celebrated as a holiday in Libya.)
In 1985, Karen Ann Quinlan, the comatose patient whose case prompted a historic right-to-die court decision, died in Morris Plains, New Jersey, at age 31.
In 1993, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that people who commit “hate crimes” motivated by bigotry may be sentenced to extra punishment; the court also ruled religious groups had a constitutional right to sacrifice animals in worship services. The Steven Spielberg science-fiction film “Jurassic Park” opened in wide release two days after its world premiere in Washington, D.C.
In 2001, Timothy McVeigh, 33, was executed by injection at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.
In 2007, Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, was arrested at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in a restroom sex sting. (Craig, who denied soliciting an undercover police officer, later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and paid a fine.)
In 2009, with swine flu reported in more than 70 nations, the World Health Organization declared the first global flu pandemic in 41 years.
Ten years ago: Twenty campers in a southwestern Arkansas gorge died in a pre-dawn flash flood of the Little Missouri River. The FIFA World Cup opened in South Africa to the joyous sound of vuvuzelas; it was the first World Cup to be played in Africa.
Five years ago: Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. military’s reach could extend even further into Iraq if the anti-Islamic State campaign were to gain momentum, and held out the possibility of a greater role for U.S troops on the ground. “Free jazz” pioneer Ornette Coleman, 85, died in New York. Country singer-songwriter Jim Ed Brown, 81, died in Franklin, Tennessee. Actor Ron Moody, 91, best known for playing Fagin in the 1968 film “Oliver!,” died in London.
One year ago: Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese man and permanent U.S. resident, was released after spending years in an Iranian prison on espionage charges; his release came amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran over Iran’s nuclear program. At a House committee hearing, comedian Jon Stewart scolded Congress for failing to ensure that a victims’ compensation fund set up after the 9/11 attacks never runs out of money. (A measure ensuring that the fund would remain permanent won final approval the following month and was signed into law by President Donald Trump.) In a landmark case for Africa, Botswana became the latest country to decriminalize gay sex; the country’s High Court rejected laws punishing it with up to seven years in prison.
Today’s Birthdays: Former U.S. Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., is 90. Comedian Johnny Brown is 83. International Motorsports Hall of Famer Jackie Stewart is 81. Singer Joey Dee is 80. Actor Roscoe Orman is 76. Actress Adrienne Barbeau is 75. Rock musician Frank Beard (ZZ Top) is 71. Animal rights activist Ingrid Newkirk is 71. Singer Graham Russell (Air Supply) is 70. Rock singer Donnie Van Zant is 68. Actor Peter Bergman is 67. Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Montana is 64. Actor Hugh Laurie is 61. TV personality Mehmet Oz, M.D., is 60. Singer Gioia (JOY’-ah) Bruno (Expose) is 57. Rock musician Dan Lavery (Tonic) is 54. Country singer-songwriter Bruce Robison is 54. Actress Clare Carey is 53. Actor Peter Dinklage is 51. Country musician Smilin’ Jay McDowell is 51. Actor Lenny Jacobson is 46. Rock musician Tai Anderson (Third Day) is 44. Actor Joshua Jackson is 42. Americana musician Gabe Witcher (Punch Brothers) is 42. Christian rock musician Ryan Shrout is 40. Actor Shia LaBeouf (SHY’-uh luh-BUF’) is 34.
Thought for Today: “Forgetfulness is a form of freedom.” — Khalil Gibran, American poet and artist (1883-1931).