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Today in History: The California Supreme Court struck down the state’s death penalty in 1972

Today in History: The California Supreme Court struck down the state’s death penalty in 1972

Today is Thursday, Feb. 18, the 49th day of 2021. There are 316 days left in the year.

Highlight in History:

On Feb. 18, 1970, the “Chicago Seven” defendants were found not guilty of conspiring to incite riots at the 1968 Democratic national convention; five were convicted of violating the Anti-Riot Act of 1968 (those convictions were later reversed).

On this date:

In 1546, Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant Reformation in Germany, died in Eisleben.

In 1564, artist Michelangelo died in Rome.

In 1930, photographic evidence of Pluto (now designated a “dwarf planet”) was discovered by Clyde W. Tombaugh at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.

In 1943, Madame Chiang Kai-shek (chang ky-shehk), wife of the Chinese leader, addressed members of the Senate and then the House, becoming the first Chinese national to address both houses of the U.S. Congress.

In 1960, the 8th Winter Olympic Games were formally opened in Squaw Valley, California, by Vice President Richard M. Nixon.

In 1967, American theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer died in Princeton, New Jersey, at age 62.

In 1972, the California Supreme Court struck down the state’s death penalty.

In 1983, 13 people were shot to death at a gambling club in Seattle’s Chinatown in what became known as the Wah Mee Massacre. (Two men were convicted of the killings and are serving life sentences; a third was found guilty of robbery and assault.)

In 1988, Anthony M. Kennedy was sworn in as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1997, astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery completed their tune-up of the Hubble Space Telescope after 33 hours of spacewalking; the Hubble was then released using the shuttle’s crane.

In 2001, veteran FBI agent Robert Philip Hanssen was arrested, accused of spying for Russia. (Hanssen later pleaded guilty to espionage and attempted espionage and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.) Auto racing star Dale Earnhardt Sr. died in a crash at the Daytona 500; he was 49.

Ten years ago: The United States vetoed a U.N. resolution that would have condemned Israeli settlements as illegal and called for a halt in all settlement building; the 14 other Security Council members voted in favor of the measure.

Five years ago: In what was seen as a criticism of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Pope Francis said that a person who advocated building walls was “not Christian”; Trump quickly retorted it was “disgraceful” to question a person’s faith. (A Vatican spokesman said the next day that the pope’s comment was not intended as a “personal attack” on Trump.) 

One year ago: Japanese health authorities confirmed 88 more cases of the coronavirus aboard the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess, bringing the number of cases on board to 542; U.S. officials said Americans who chose to remain on board could not return home for at least two weeks after coming ashore. 

Today’s Birthdays: Game show host Vanna White is 64. Actor Jayne Atkinson is 62. Actor Greta Scacchi (SKAH’-kee) is 61. Actor Matt Dillon is 57. Rock musician Tommy Scott (Space) is 57. Rapper Dr. Dre is 56. Actor Molly Ringwald is 53. Actor Sarah Brown is 46. Country musician Trevor Rosen (Old Dominion) is 46. 

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