Today in History


Today is Saturday, Jan. 21, the 21st day of 2023. There are 344 days left in the year.

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 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 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: A day after being inaugurated for a second term in a private Sunday ceremony, President Barack Obama took a public oath, summoning a divided nation to act with “passion and dedication” to broaden equality and prosperity at home, nurture democracy around the world and combat global warming. British movie director Michael Winner, 77, who’d made 30 films, including three in the “Death Wish” series, died in London.

Five years ago: Security forces in Afghanistan brought an end to an overnight siege by Taliban militants at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul; four American citizens were among 22 people killed in the 13-hour attack. The Philadelphia Eagles stunned the Minnesota Vikings, 38-7, in the NFC title game to advance to the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots, who had scored a 24-20 comeback win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC title game. (The Eagles would go on to win their first Super Bowl.)

One year ago: Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met in Geneva for about 90 minutes, but the two sides reported no breakthroughs in talks aimed at preventing a feared Russian invasion of Ukraine. The FBI said Brian Laundrie, the boyfriend of slain cross-country traveler Gabby Petito, had admitted to killing her in a notebook discovered near his body in a Florida swamp. Comedian and actor Louie Anderson died in Las Vegas at 68.

Today’s birthdays: World Golf Hall of Famer Jack Nicklaus is 83. Opera singer-conductor Placido Domingo is 82. Actor Jill Eikenberry is 76. Country musician Jim Ibbotson is 76. Singer-songwriter Billy Ocean is 73. Former U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke is 73. Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is 72. Actor-director Robby Benson is 67. Actor Geena Davis is 67. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., is 62. Basketball Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon is 60. Actor Charlotte Ross is 55. Actor John Ducey is 54. Actor Karina Lombard is 54. Actor Ken Leung is 53. Rock musician Mark Trojanowski (Sister Hazel) is 53. Rock singer-songwriter Cat Power is 51. Rock DJ Chris Kilmore (Incubus) is 50. Actor Vincent Laresca is 49. Singer Emma Bunton (Spice Girls) is 47. Actor Jerry Trainor is 46. Country singer Phil Stacey is 45. R&B singer Nokio is 44. Actor Izabella Miko (MEE’-koh) is 42. Actor Luke Grimes is 39. Actor Feliz Ramirez is 31.

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