Today in history

By The Associated Press

Today is Tuesday, March 27, the 86th day of 2018. There are 279 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On March 27, 1968, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (gah-GAH’-rihn), the first man to orbit the Earth in 1961, died when his MiG-15 jet crashed during a routine training flight near Moscow; he was 34.

On this date:

In 1513, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon (hwahn pahns duh LEE’-ohn) sighted present-day Florida.

In 1625, Charles I acceded to the English throne upon the death of James I.

In 1794, Congress approved “An Act to provide a Naval Armament” of six armed ships.

In 1884, the first telephone line between Boston and New York was inaugurated.

In 1912, first lady Helen Herron Taft and the wife of Japan’s ambassador to the United States, Viscountess Chinda, planted the first two of 3,000 cherry trees given to the U.S. as a gift by the mayor of Tokyo.

In 1933, Japan officially withdrew from the League of Nations.

In 1942, during World War II, Congress granted American servicemen free first-class mailing privileges.

In 1958, Nikita Khrushchev became Soviet premier in addition to First Secretary of the Communist Party.

In 1964, Alaska was hit by a magnitude 9.2 earthquake (the strongest on record in North America) and tsunamis that together claimed about 130 lives.

In 1977, in aviation’s worst disaster, 583 people were killed when a KLM Boeing 747, attempting to take off in heavy fog, crashed into a Pan Am 747 on an airport runway on the Canary Island of Tenerife (ten-uh-REEF’).

In 1980, 123 workers died when a North Sea floating oil field platform, the Alexander Kielland, capsized during a storm.

In 1998, the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug Viagra, made by Pfizer, saying it had helped about two-thirds of impotent men improve their sexual function.

Ten years ago: The Pentagon said Defense Secretary Robert Gates had ordered a full inventory of all nuclear weapons and related materials after the mistaken delivery of ballistic missile fuses to Taiwan.

Five years ago: Lawyers for Colorado theater shooting suspect James Holmes said he would plead guilty to the attack that killed 12 people and serve the rest of his life in prison to avoid the death penalty. (Prosecutors rejected the offer, but Holmes ended up being sentenced to life in prison anyway.) Former South African President Nelson Mandela was admitted to a hospital for pneumonia (he was discharged 10 days later).

One year ago: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned so-called “sanctuary cities” they could lose federal money for refusing to cooperate with immigration authorities; city leaders vowed to intensify their fight against the promised crackdown despite the financial risks. NFL owners meeting in Phoenix approved the Oakland Raiders’ move to Las Vegas 31-1; Miami was the lone dissenter.

Today’s Birthdays: Dance company director Arthur Mitchell is 84. Actor Julian Glover is 83. Actor Jerry Lacy is 82. Hall of Fame racer Cale Yarborough is 79. Actor-director Austin Pendleton is 78. Actor Michael York is 76. Rock musician Tony Banks (Genesis) is 68. Rock musician Andrew Farriss (INXS) is 59. Jazz musician Dave Koz (kahz) is 55. Movie director Quentin Tarantino is 55. Rock musician Derrick McKenzie (Jamiroquai) is 54. Rock musician Johnny April (Staind) is 53. Actress Talisa Soto is 51. Actor Ben Koldyke is 50. Actress Pauley Perrette is 49. Singer Mariah Carey is 48. Rock musician Brendan Hill (Blues Traveler) is 48. Actress Elizabeth Mitchell is 48. Actor Nathan Fillion is 47. Hip-hop singer Fergie is 43. Actress Emily Ann Lloyd is 34. Actress Brenda Song is 30. Pop singer-songwriter Kimbra is 28. Actress Taylor Atelian is 23. Classical crossover singer Amira Willighagen (TV: “Holland’s Got Talent”) is 14.

Thought for Today: “A sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within.” — Eudora Welty, American author (1909-2001).

By The Associated Press