This Day in History

Posted: Wednesday, January 31, 2007

In Alaska

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• In 1898, the Juneau courthouse and jail, on the site of the present State Office Building, burned to the ground.

• In 1900, the steamer Walcott wrecked in Shelikof Strait north of Kodiak.

• In 1959, Japan Air Lines made its test Tokyo-Seattle run, stopping over - for refueling only - in Anchorage.

• In 1979, cleanup efforts began on a 25,000-gallon oil spill at the Louisiana-Pacific pulp mill at Ward Cove in Ketchikan.

In the nation

• In 1865, Gen. Robert E. Lee was named General-in-Chief of all the Confederate armies.

• In 1934, President Franklin Roosevelt devalued the dollar in relation to gold.

• In 1971, astronauts Alan B. Shepard Jr., Edgar D. Mitchell and Stuart A. Roosa blasted off aboard Apollo 14 on a mission to the moon.

• In 1987, discount airline pioneer People Express flew its last flights before merging into Continental Airlines.

• In 1997, three days of deliberations in the O.J. Simpson civil trial in Santa Monica, Calif., were scrapped and the jury forced to start all over again after the only black woman on the panel was replaced because of misconduct.

• In 2002, the Bush administration handed abortion opponents a symbolic victory, classifying a developing fetus as an "unborn child" as a way of extending prenatal care to low-income pregnant women under the State Children's Health Insurance Program. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in a speech that the United States had to prepare for potential surprise attacks "vastly more deadly" than those on 9/11. Kentucky, cited by the NCAA for more than three dozen recruiting violations, was placed on three years probation.

• In 2006, in his State of the Union address, President Bush declared that America had to break its long dependence on Mideast oil and rebuked critics of his stay-the-course strategy for the unpopular war in Iraq. Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito was sworn in after winning Senate confirmation. The Senate approved Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve.

In the world

• In 1606, Guy Fawkes, convicted of treason for his part in the "Gunpowder Plot" against the English Parliament and King James I, was executed.

• In 1917, during World War I, Germany served notice it was beginning a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare.

• In 1944, during World War II, U.S. forces began a successful invasion of Kwajalein Atoll and other parts of the Japanese-held Marshall Islands.

• In 1945, Private Eddie Slovik, 24, became the first U.S. soldier since the Civil War to be executed for desertion as he was shot by an American firing squad in France.

• In 1958, the United States entered the Space Age with its first successful launch of a satellite into orbit, Explorer I.

• In 2000, an Alaska Airlines jet plummeted into the Pacific Ocean, killing all 88 people aboard.

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