Today’s Highlight in History:
On Oct. 15, 1991, despite sexual harassment allegations by Anita Hill, the Senate narrowly confirmed the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court, 52-48.
On this date:
In 1783, the first manned balloon flight took place in Paris as Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier ascended in a basket attached to a tethered Montgolfier hot-air balloon, rising to about 75 feet.
In 1928, the German dirigible Graf Zeppelin landed in Lakehurst, N.J., completing its first commercial flight across the Atlantic.
In 1945, the former premier of Vichy France, Pierre Laval, was executed for treason.
In 1946, Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering (GEH’-reeng) fatally poisoned himself hours before he was to have been executed.
In 1954, Hurricane Hazel made landfall on the Carolina coast as a Category 4 storm; Hazel was blamed for some 1,000 deaths in the Caribbean, 95 in the U.S. and 81 in Canada.
In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a bill creating the U.S. Department of Transportation. The revolutionary Black Panther Party was founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, California.
In 1976, in the first debate of its kind between vice-presidential nominees, Democrat Walter F. Mondale and Republican Bob Dole faced off in Houston.
In 2001, Bethlehem Steel Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
In 2003, eleven people were killed when a Staten Island ferry slammed into a maintenance pier. (The ferry’s pilot, who’d blacked out at the controls, later pleaded guilty to eleven counts of manslaughter.)
In 2009, a report of a 6-year-old Colorado boy trapped inside a runaway helium balloon engrossed the nation before the boy, Falcon Heene , was found safe at home in what turned out to be a hoax. (Falcon’s parents served up to a month in jail.)
In 2015, President Barack Obama abandoned his pledge to end America’s longest war, announcing plans to keep at least 5,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan at the end of his term in 2017 and hand the conflict off to his successor.
In 2017, actress and activist Alyssa Milano tweeted that women who had been sexually harassed or assaulted should write “Me too” as a status; within hours, tens of thousands had taken up the #MeToo hashtag (using a phrase that had been introduced 10 years earlier by social activist Tarana Burke.)
Ten years ago: Iran’s Foreign Ministry dismissed U.S. accusations that Tehran was involved in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, saying the claims had no “legal logic.” The Texas Rangers finished off the Detroit Tigers to become the American League’s first repeat champion in a decade with a 15-5 win in Game 6 of the ALCS.
Five years ago: Republican Donald Trump sought to undermine the legitimacy of the U.S. presidential election, pressing unsubstantiated claims that the contest was “rigged” against him. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that Yemen’s Houthi (HOO’-thee) rebels had released two U.S. citizens as part of a complicated diplomatic arrangement.
One year ago: With their debate in Miami canceled following the president’s coronavirus infection, President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden squared off in dueling televised town halls. Biden hedged on whether he would require all Americans to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Responding to a New York Times report citing tax returns showing he had business debts exceeding $400 million, Trump said, “$400 million is a peanut,” and insisted that he didn’t owe money to Russia or to any “sinister people.” YouTube said it was taking more steps to limit QAnon and other baseless conspiracy theories that could lead to violence. The sobering musical “Jagged Little Pill,” which plumbed Alanis Morissette’s 1995 album to tell a story of an American family spiraling out of control, earned 15 Tony Award nominations as Broadway took the first steps to celebrate a pandemic-shortened season.
Today’s Birthdays: Singer Barry McGuire is 86. Actor Linda Lavin is 84. Rock musician Don Stevenson (Moby Grape) is 79. Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Palmer is 76.
Singer-musician Richard Carpenter is 75. Actor Victor Banerjee is 75. Former tennis player Roscoe Tanner is 70. Singer Tito Jackson is 68. Actor-comedian Larry Miller is 68. Actor Jere Burns is 67. Movie director Mira Nair is 64. Britain’s Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, is 62. Chef Emeril Lagasse (EM’-ur-ul leh-GAH’-see) is 62. Rock musician Mark Reznicek (REHZ’-nih-chehk) is 59. Singer Eric Benet (beh-NAY’) is 55. Actor Vanessa Marcil is 53. Singer-actor-TV host Paige Davis is 52. Country singer Kimberly Schlapman (Little Big Town) is 52. Actor Dominic West is 52. R&B singer Ginuwine (JIHN’-yoo-wyn) is 51. Actor Devon Gummersall is 43. Actor Chris Olivero is 42. Christian singer-actor Jaci (JAK’-ee) Velasquez is 42. Actor Brandon Jay McLaren is 41. R&B singer Keyshia Cole is 40. Actor Vincent Martella is 29. Actor Bailee Madison is 22.