Today’s Highlight in History:
On Feb. 13, 2016, Justice Antonin Scalia, the influential conservative and most provocative member of the U.S. Supreme Court, was found dead at a private residence in the Big Bend area of West Texas; he was 79. During a Republican presidential debate that evening in South Carolina, the candidates, with the exception of Jeb Bush, insisted that President Barack Obama should let his successor nominate Scalia’s replacement. (Obama nominated Merrick Garland; Senate Republicans refused to advance the nomination, which expired the following January.)
On this date:
In 1633, Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei arrived in Rome for trial before the Inquisition, accused of defending Copernican theory that the Earth revolved around the sun instead of the other way around. (Galileo was found vehemently suspect of heresy and ended up being sentenced to a form of house arrest.)
In 1861, Abraham Lincoln was officially declared winner of the 1860 presidential election as electors cast their ballots.
In 1935, a jury in Flemington, New Jersey, found Bruno Richard Hauptmann guilty of first-degree murder in the kidnap-slaying of Charles A. Lindbergh Jr., the 20-month-old son of Charles and Anne Lindbergh. (Hauptmann was later executed.)
In 1939, Justice Louis D. Brandeis retired from the U.S. Supreme Court. (He was succeeded by William O. Douglas.)
In 1960, France exploded its first atomic bomb in the Sahara Desert.
In 1965, during the Vietnam War, President Lyndon B. Johnson authorized Operation Rolling Thunder, an extended bombing campaign against the North Vietnamese.
In 1974, Nobel Prize-winning Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn was expelled from the Soviet Union.
In 1991, during Operation Desert Storm, allied warplanes destroyed an underground shelter in Baghdad that had been identified as a military command center; Iraqi officials said 500 civilians were killed.
In 1998, Dr. David Satcher was sworn in as the 16th Surgeon General of the United States during an Oval Office ceremony.
In 2000, Charles Schulz’s final “Peanuts” strip ran in Sunday newspapers, the day after the cartoonist died in his sleep at his California home at age 77.
In 2002, John Walker Lindh pleaded not guilty in federal court in Alexandria, Va., to conspiring to kill Americans and supporting the Taliban and terrorist organizations. (Lindh later pleaded guilty to lesser offenses and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He was released in September 2019 after serving 17 years of that sentence.)
In 2013, beginning a long farewell to his flock, a weary Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his final public Mass as pontiff, presiding over Ash Wednesday services inside St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.
Ten years ago: Egypt’s military leaders dissolved parliament, suspended the constitution and promised elections in moves cautiously welcomed by protesters who’d helped topple President Hosni Mubarak. Lady Antebellum was the big winner at the Grammys with five awards, including record and song of the year for the band’s yearning crossover ballad “Need You Now,” but rockers Arcade Fire won the biggest prize, album of the year, for their highly acclaimed “The Suburbs.”
Five years ago: On his first full day in Mexico, Pope Francis issued a tough-love message to the country’s political and church elites, telling them they had a duty to provide their people with security, justice and courageous pastoral care.
One year ago: China reported a surge in deaths and infections from the coronavirus after changing the way the count was tallied; the number of confirmed cases neared 60,000 with more than 1,300 deaths. Japan announced the country’s first death from the coronavirus, a woman in her 80s, and said the number of cases on a quarantined cruise ship had reached 218. The cruise ship MS Westerdam, which had been stranded at sea for about two weeks after being refused entry by four Asian governments, docked in Cambodia, where passengers were given health checks. Attorney General William Barr told ABC that President Donald Trump’s tweets about Justice Department prosecutors and open cases “make it impossible for me to do my job.”
Today’s Birthdays: Actor Kim Novak is 88. Actor George Segal is 87. Actor Bo Svenson is 80. Actor Stockard Channing is 77. Talk show host Jerry Springer is 77. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., is 75.
Singer Peter Gabriel is 71. Actor David Naughton is 70. Rock musician Peter Hook is 65. Actor Matt Salinger is 61. Singer Henry Rollins is 60. Actor Neal McDonough is 55. Singer Freedom Williams is 55. Actor Kelly Hu is 53. Rock singer Matt Berninger (The National) is 50. Country musician Scott Thomas (Parmalee) is 48. Singer Robbie Williams is 47. Singer-songwriter Feist is 45. Rhythm-and-blues performer Natalie Stewart is 42. Actor Mena Suvari (MEE’-nuh soo-VAHR’-ee) is 42. Actor Katie Volding is 32. Michael Joseph Jackson Jr. (also known as Prince Michael Jackson I) is 24.