Today's highlight in history:
On Feb. 28, 1942, the heavy cruiser USS Houston and the Australian
light cruiser HMAS Perth came under attack by Japanese forces during
the World War II Battle of Sunda Strait; both were sunk shortly
after midnight. (The Houston lost 693 men while the Perth lost 353.)
On this date:
In 1844, a 12-inch gun aboard the USS Princeton exploded as the ship
was sailing on the Potomac River, killing Secretary of State Abel P.
Upshur, Navy Secretary Thomas W. Gilmer and several others.
In 1849, the California gold rush began in earnest as regular
steamship service started bringing gold-seekers to San Francisco.
In 1861, the Territory of Colorado was organized.
In 1911, President William Howard Taft nominated William H. Lewis to
be the first black Assistant Attorney General of the United States.
In 1951, the Senate committee headed by Estes Kefauver (ES'-teez
KEE'-faw-vuhr), D-Tenn., issued an interim report saying at least
two major crime syndicates were operating in the U.S.
In 1953, scientists James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick announced
they had discovered the double-helix structure of DNA, the molecule
that contains the human genes.
In 1960, a day after defeating the Soviets at the Winter Games in
Squaw Valley, Calif., the United States won its first Olympic hockey
gold medal by defeating Czechoslovakia's team, 9-4.
In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai
issued the Shanghai Communique, which called for normalizing
relations between their countries, at the conclusion of Nixon's
historic visit to China.
In 1975, more than 40 people were killed in London's Underground
when a subway train smashed into the end of a tunnel.
In 1986, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme (PAHL'-meh) was shot to
death in central Stockholm. (The killing remains unsolved.)
In 1993, a gun battle erupted at a compound near Waco, Texas, when
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents tried to serve
warrants on the Branch Davidians; four agents and six Davidians were
killed as a 51-day standoff began.
In 1997, in North Hollywood, Calif., two heavily armed and armored
robbers bungled a bank heist and came out firing, unleashing their
arsenal on police, bystanders, cars and TV choppers before they were
Ten years ago: The body of a young girl found outside San
Diego was positively identified as that of seven-year-old Danielle
van Dam, who'd disappeared from her bedroom about a month earlier; a
neighbor, David Westerfield, was later convicted of her murder and
sentenced to death. Hindus in western India retaliated for a train
attack that claimed some 60 lives by setting fire to Muslims' homes,
then keeping firefighters away for hours. Soap opera actress Mary
Stuart, who had starred in "Search for Tomorrow" for some 35 years,
died in New York at age 75.