Today in history


By the Associated Press



Today is Sunday, May 31, the 152nd day of 2020. There are 214 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On May 31, 1921, a race riot erupted in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as white mobs began looting and leveling the affluent black district of Greenwood over reports a black man had assaulted a white woman in an elevator; hundreds are believed to have died.

On this date:

In 1859, the Big Ben clock tower in London went into operation, chiming for the first time.

In 1889, some 2,200 people in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, perished when the South Fork Dam collapsed, sending 20 million tons of water rushing through the town.

In 1910, the Union of South Africa was founded.

In 1949, former State Department official and accused spy Alger Hiss went on trial in New York, charged with perjury (the jury deadlocked, but Hiss was convicted in a second trial).

In 1961, South Africa became an independent republic as it withdrew from the British Commonwealth.

In 1962, former Nazi official Adolf Eichmann was hanged in Israel a few minutes before midnight for his role in the Holocaust.

In 1970, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake in Peru claimed an estimated 67,000 lives.

In 1977, the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline, three years in the making despite objections from environmentalists and Alaska Natives, was completed. (The first oil began flowing through the pipeline 20 days later.)

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush welcomed Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev to Washington for a summit meeting. The situation comedy “Seinfeld” began airing as a regular series on NBC.

In 2005, breaking a silence of 30 years, former FBI official W. Mark Felt stepped forward as “Deep Throat,” the secret Washington Post source during the Watergate scandal.

In 2009, Dr. George Tiller, a rare provider of late-term abortions, was shot and killed in a Wichita, Kansas, church. (Gunman Scott Roeder was later convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 50 years.) Millvina Dean, the last survivor of the 1912 sinking of the RMS Titanic, died in Southampton, England at 97.

In 2014, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only American soldier held prisoner in Afghanistan, was freed by the Taliban in exchange for five Afghan detainees from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (Bergdahl, who’d gone missing in June 2009, later pleaded guilty to endangering his comrades by walking away from his post in Afghanistan; his sentence included a dishonorable discharge, a reduction in rank and a fine, but no prison time.)

Ten years ago: Israeli commandos stormed six ships carrying hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists on an aid mission to the blockaded Gaza Strip; eight Turkish activists and one Turkish-American were killed aboard one vessel, with each side accusing the other of starting the violence. Al-Qaida announced that its No. 3 official, Mustafa al-Yazid, had been killed along with members of his family. (A U.S. official said al-Yazid was believed to have died in a U.S. missile strike.) Artist Louise Bourgeois, 98, died in New York. Chris Haney, 59, co-creator of the popular Trivial Pursuit board game, died in Toronto.

Five years ago: The U.S. Senate held an extraordinary Sunday session during which it failed to produce an 11th-hour deal to extend the National Security Agency’s authority to collect Americans’ phone records in bulk. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry broke his leg in a bicycle crash near Geneva, forcing him to return to the U.S. for treatment and to scrap the rest of a four-nation trip. Jim Bailey, 77, a singer-actor who transformed himself into such show biz legends as Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand and Peggy Lee during a career that spanned decades, died in Los Angeles. Harriette Thompson of Charlotte, North Carolina, a 92-year-old cancer survivor, became the oldest woman to finish a marathon as she completed the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in San Diego in 7:24:36.

One year ago: A longtime city employee opened fire in a municipal building in Virginia Beach, Virginia, killing 12 people on three floors before police shot and killed him; officials said DeWayne Craddock had resigned by email hours before the shooting. As he prepared for a three-day visit to Britain, President Donald Trump told the British tabloid The Sun that Boris Johnson would make an “excellent” prime minister; he also called Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, “nasty.” Relentless flooding in the central U.S. inundated communities and damaged or spilled over levees on three major rivers in two states.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor-director Clint Eastwood is 90. Singer Peter Yarrow is 82. Humanitarian and author Terry Waite is 81. Singer-musician Augie Meyers is 80. Actress Sharon Gless is 77. Football Hall of Famer Joe Namath is 77. Broadcast journalist/commentator Bernard Goldberg is 75. Actor Tom Berenger is 70. Actor Gregory Harrison is 70. Actor Kyle Secor is 63. Actress Roma Maffia (ma-FEE’-uh) is 62. Comedian Chris Elliott is 60. Actress Lea Thompson is 59. Singer Corey Hart is 58. Actor Hugh Dillon is 57. Rapper DMC is 56. Actress Brooke Shields is 55. Country musician Ed Adkins (The Derailers) is 53. TV host Phil Keoghan is 53. Jazz musician Christian McBride is 48. Actress Archie Panjabi is 48. Actress Merle Dandridge (TV: “Greenleaf”) is 45. Actor Colin Farrell is 44. Rock musician Scott Klopfenstein (Reel Big Fish) is 43. Actor Eric Christian Olsen is 43. Rock musician Andy Hurley (Fall Out Boy) is 40. Country singer Casey James (TV: “American Idol”) is 38. Actor Jonathan Tucker is 38. Rapper Waka Flocka Flame is 34. Actor Curtis Williams Jr. is 33. Pop singer Normani Hamilton (Fifth Harmony) is 24.

Thought for Today: “The future is no more uncertain than the present.” — Walt Whitman, American poet (born this date in 1819, died 1892).

By the Associated Press