Today’s Highlight in History:
On Jan. 21, 2010, a bitterly divided U.S. Supreme Court, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, vastly increased the power of big business and labor unions to influence government decisions by freeing them to spend their millions directly to sway elections for president and Congress.
On this date:
In 1793, during the French Revolution, King Louis XVI, condemned for treason, was executed on the guillotine.
In 1910, the Great Paris Flood began as the rain-swollen Seine River burst its banks, sending water into the French capital.
In 1915, the first Kiwanis Club, dedicated to community service, was founded in Detroit.
In 1924, Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin died at age 53.
In 1942, pinball machines were banned in New York City after a court ruled they were gambling devices that relied on chance rather than skill (the ban was lifted in 1976).
In 1950, former State Department official Alger Hiss, accused of being part of a Communist spy ring, was found guilty in New York of lying to a grand jury. (Hiss, who proclaimed his innocence, served less than four years in prison.)
In 1954, the first atomic submarine, the USS Nautilus, was launched at Groton (GRAH’-tuhn), Connecticut (however, the Nautilus did not make its first nuclear-powered run until nearly a year later).
In 1976, British Airways and Air France inaugurated scheduled passenger service on the supersonic Concorde jet.
In 1977, on his first full day in office, President Jimmy Carter pardoned almost all Vietnam War draft evaders.
In 2003, the Census Bureau announced that Hispanics had surpassed blacks as America’s largest minority group.
In 2009, the Senate confirmed Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state.
In 2020, the U.S. reported its first known case of the new virus circulating in China, saying a Washington state resident who had returned the previous week from the outbreak’s epicenter was hospitalized near Seattle; U.S. officials stressed that they believed the overall risk of the virus to the American public remained low.
Ten years ago: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich scored an upset win in the South Carolina Republican presidential primary, dealing a sharp setback to Mitt Romney.
Five years ago: A day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, more than 1 million people rallied at women’s marches in the nation’s capital and cities around the world to send the new president an emphatic message that they wouldn’t let his agenda go unchallenged. The Southeast saw the beginning of a weekend outbreak of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms; sixteen people were killed in Georgia, four people died in Mississippi and one death was reported in Florida.
One year ago: On his first full day in office, President Joe Biden signed 10 executive orders aimed at combating the coronavirus pandemic, including one broadening the use of the Defense Production Act to expand vaccine production; he also signed an order mandating masks for travel, including in airports and on planes, ships, trains, buses and public transportation. After being largely sidelined in the final months of the Trump administration, Dr. Anthony Fauci returned to the White House briefing room to provide an update on the pandemic. The U.S. said it would resume funding for the World Health Organization; the funding had been halted by the Trump administration.
Today’s Birthdays: World Golf Hall of Famer Jack Nicklaus is 82. Opera singer-conductor Placido Domingo is 81. Actor Jill Eikenberry is 75. Country musician Jim Ibbotson is 75.
Singer-songwriter Billy Ocean is 72. Former U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke is 72. Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is 71. Actor-director Robby Benson is 66. Actor Geena Davis is 66. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., is 61. Basketball Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon is 59. Actor Charlotte Ross is 54. Actor John Ducey is 53. Actor Karina Lombard is 53. Actor Ken Leung is 52. Rock musician Mark Trojanowski (Sister Hazel) is 52. Rock singer-songwriter Cat Power is 50. Rock DJ Chris Kilmore (Incubus) is 49. Actor Vincent Laresca is 48. Singer Emma Bunton (Spice Girls) is 46. Actor Jerry Trainor is 45. Country singer Phil Stacey is 44. R&B singer Nokio is 43. Actor Izabella Miko (MEE’-koh) is 41. Actor Luke Grimes is 38. Actor Feliz Ramirez is 30.