Today in History 9/12/19

Published 9:03 am Thursday, September 12, 2019

Today is Thursday, Sept. 12, the 255th day of 2019. There are 110 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Sept. 12, 2001, stunned rescue workers continued to search for bodies in the World Trade Center’s smoking rubble a day after a terrorist attack that shut down the financial capital, badly damaged the Pentagon and left thousands dead. President Bush, branding the attacks in New York and Washington “acts of war,” said “this will be a monumental struggle of good versus evil” and that “good will prevail.”

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On this date:

In 1846, Elizabeth Barrett secretly married Robert Browning at St. Marylebone Church in London.

In 1942, during World War II, a German U-boat off West Africa torpedoed the RMS Laconia, which was carrying Italian prisoners of war, British soldiers and civilians; it’s estimated more than 1,600 people died while some 1,100 survived after the ship sank. The German crew, joined by other U-boats, began rescue operations. (On September 16, the rescue effort came to an abrupt halt when the Germans were attacked by a U.S. Army bomber; as a result, U-boat commanders were ordered to no longer rescue civilian survivors of submarine attacks.)

In 1959, the Soviet Union launched its Luna 2 space probe, which made a crash landing on the moon. The TV Western series “Bonanza” premiered on NBC.

In 1962, in a speech at Rice University in Houston, President John F. Kennedy reaffirmed his support for the manned space program, declaring: “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

In 1974, Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed by Ethiopia’s military after ruling for 58 years.

In 1977, South African black student leader and anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, 30, died while in police custody, triggering an international outcry.

In 1987, reports surfaced that Democratic presidential candidate Joseph Biden had borrowed, without attribution, passages of a speech by British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock for one of his own campaign speeches. (The Kinnock report, along with other damaging revelations, prompted Biden to drop his White House bid.)

In 1992, the space shuttle Endeavour blasted off, carrying with it Mark Lee and Jan Davis, the first married couple in space; Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space; and Mamoru Mohri, the first Japanese national to fly on a U.S. spaceship. Police in Peru captured Shining Path founder Abimael Guzman. Actor Anthony Perkins died in Hollywood at age 60.

In 1994, a stolen, single-engine Cessna crashed into the South Lawn of the White House, coming to rest against the executive mansion; the pilot, Frank Corder, was killed.

In 2003, In the Iraqi city of Fallujah, U.S. forces mistakenly opened fire on vehicles carrying police, killing eight of them.

In 2008, a Metrolink commuter train struck a freight train head-on in Los Angeles, killing 25 people. (Federal investigators said the Metrolink engineer, Robert Sanchez, who was among those who died, had been text-messaging on his cell phone and ran a red light shortly before the crash.)

In 2012, the U.S. dispatched an elite group of Marines to Tripoli, Libya, after the mob attack in Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans. President Barack Obama strongly condemned the violence, and vowed to bring the killers to justice; Republican challenger Mitt Romney accused the administration of showing weakness in the face of tumultuous events in the Middle East.

Ten years ago: Tens of thousands of protesters marched to the U.S. Capitol, showing their disdain for President Barack Obama’s health care plan. The president, keeping up the drumbeat for his proposal, told a packed rally in Minneapolis, “I will not accept the status quo.” Serena Williams’ U.S. Open title defense ended with a bizarre loss to Kim Clijsters after Williams went into a tirade against a line judge who’d called her for a foot fault; following her outburst, Williams was penalized a point for unsportsmanlike conduct, ending the match, 6-4, 7-5.

Five years ago: A South African judge found Oscar Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide, or negligent killing, in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp and declared the double-amputee Olympian not guilty of murder. (The verdict was overturned and replaced with a murder conviction by South Africa’s Supreme Court; Pistorius is serving a 13-year prison sentence.) Ian Paisley, 88, the divisive Protestant firebrand preacher who had devoted his life to thwarting compromise with Catholics in Northern Ireland only to became a pivotal peacemaker in his twilight years, died in Belfast.

One year ago: CBS News fired top “60 Minutes” executive Jeff Fager, who had been under investigation following reports that he groped women at parties and tolerated an abusive workplace. The Food and Drug Administration warned that the use of e-cigarettes by teens was an “epidemic,” and ordered manufacturers to take steps to reverse the trend. New York’s City Council passed legislation allowing people who were born in the city but who don’t identify as male or female to change their gender designation to “X’’ on their birth certificates; the measure also allowed parents to choose the “X’’ designation for their newborns.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Ian Holm is 88. Former U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., is 80. Actress Linda Gray is 79. Singer Maria Muldaur is 77. Actor Joe Pantoliano is 68. Singer-musician Gerry Beckley (America) is 67. Original MTV VJ Nina Blackwood is 67. Rock musician Neil Peart (Rush) is 67. Actor Peter Scolari is 64. Former Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is 63. Actress Rachel Ward is 62. Actress Amy Yasbeck is 57. Rock musician Norwood Fisher (Fishbone) is 54. Actor Darren E. Burrows is 53. Rock singer-musician Ben Folds (Ben Folds Five) is 53. Actor-comedian Louis C.K. is 52. Rock musician Larry LaLonde (Primus) is 51. Golfer Angel Cabrera is 50. Actor-singer Will Chase is 49. Actor Josh Hopkins is 49. Country singer Jennifer Nettles is 45. Actress Lauren Stamile is 43. Rapper 2 Chainz is 42. Actress Kelly Jenrette is 41. Actor Ben McKenzie is 41. Singer Ruben Studdard is 41. Basketball Hall of Fame player Yao Ming is 39. Singer-actress Jennifer Hudson is 38. Actor Alfie Allen is 33. Actress Emmy Rossum is 33. Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman is 30. Country singer Kelsea Ballerini is 26. Actor Colin Ford is 23.

Thought for Today: “Hope, like faith, is nothing if it is not courageous; it is nothing if it is not ridiculous.” — Thornton Wilder, American playwright (1897-1975).