Today is Saturday, Feb. 18, the 49th day of 2023. There are 316 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Feb. 18, 2001, auto racing star Dale Earnhardt Sr. died in a crash at the Daytona 500; he was 49.
On this date:
In 1564, Michelangelo died in Rome at age 88.
In 1885, Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” was published in the U.S. for the first time (after being published in Britain and Canada).
In 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).
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 were sentenced to life in prison; a third was found guilty of robbery and assault.)
In 1984, Italy and the Vatican signed an accord under which Roman Catholicism ceased to be the state religion of Italy.
In 1988, Anthony M. Kennedy was sworn in as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 1994, at the Winter Olympic Games in Norway, U.S. speedskater Dan Jansen finally won a gold medal, breaking the world record in the 1,000 meters.
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.)
In 2003, an arson attack involving two South Korean subway trains in the city of Daegu claimed 198 lives. (The arsonist was sentenced to life in prison, where he died in 2004.)
In 2016, 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.)
In 2020, President Donald Trump commuted the 14-year prison sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich for political corruption; Blagojevich left prison hours later and returned home to Chicago. (Trump also issued pardons or clemency to former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik, financier Michael Milken and a long list of others.)
Ten years ago: The European Union imposed trade and economic sanctions on North Korea while condemning “in the strongest terms” the nation’s latest nuclear test. Robbers stole a reported $50 million worth of diamonds from the hold of a Swiss-bound plane at Brussels’ international airport; more than 30 people were later detained and some of the loot recovered. President Hugo Chavez returned to Venezuela after more than two months of treatment in Cuba following cancer surgery.
Five years ago: “Black Panther,” the Marvel superhero film from the Walt Disney Co., blew past expectations to take in $192 million during its debut weekend in U.S. and Canadian theaters. LeBron James scored 29 points and won his third NBA All-Star Game MVP award as his team beat the rival squad headed by Stephen Curry, 148-to-145.
One year ago: Spiking tensions in eastern Ukraine aggravated Western fears of a Russian invasion and a new war in Europe, with a humanitarian convoy hit by shelling and pro-Russian rebels evacuating civilians from the conflict zone. (Russia would invade Ukraine two days later.) Police arrested scores of demonstrators and towed away vehicles in Canada’s besieged capital, and a stream of trucks started leaving under the pressure, raising authorities’ hopes for an end to the three-week protest against the country’s COVID-19 restrictions
Today’s birthdays: Today’s Birthdays: Singer Yoko Ono is 90. Singer-songwriter Bobby Hart is 84. Singer Irma Thomas is 82. Singer Herman Santiago (Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers) is 82. Actor Jess Walton is 77. Singer Dennis DeYoung is 76. Actor Sinead Cusack is 75. Actor Cybill Shepherd is 73. Singer Randy Crawford is 71. Actor John Travolta is 69. Actor John Pankow is 68. Game show host Vanna White is 66. Actor Jayne Atkinson is 64. Actor Greta Scacchi (SKAH’-kee) is 63. Actor Matt Dillon is 59. Rock musician Tommy Scott (Space) is 59.