This Day in History

Posted: Tuesday, February 21, 2006

In Alaska

• In 1924, Carl Ben Eielson flew the first official airmail in Alaska from Fairbanks to McGrath.

• In 1987, the University of Alaska Board of Regents approved plans to merge Alaska community colleges and universities.

In the nation

• In 1885, the Washington Monument was dedicated.

• In 1925, The New Yorker magazine made its debut.

• In 1947, Edwin H. Land publicly demonstrated his Polaroid Land camera, which could produce a black-and-white photograph in 60 seconds.

• In 1975, former Attorney General John N. Mitchell and former White House aides H.R. Haldeman and John D. Ehrlichman were sentenced to 2 1/2 to eight years in prison for their roles in the Watergate cover-up.

• In 1986, Larry Wu-tai Chin, the first American found guilty of spying for China, killed himself in his Virginia jail cell.

• In 2000, consumer advocate Ralph Nader announced his entry into the presidential race, bidding for the nomination of the Green Party.

• In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled that state workers cannot use an important federal disability-rights law to win money damages for on-the-job discrimination. At the Grammy Awards, Steely Dan won album of the year for "Two Against Nature," plus best pop album and best pop performance by a duo or group for "Cousin Dupree"; controversial rapper Eminem won three awards, all in rap categories.

In the world

• In 1916, the World War I Battle of Verdun began in France.

• In 1972, President Nixon began his historic visit to China as he and his wife, Pat, arrived in Shanghai.

• In 1973, Israeli fighter planes shot down a Libyan Airlines jet over the Sinai Desert, killing more than 100 people.

• In 1995, Chicago adventurer Steve Fossett became the first person to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean in a balloon, landing in Leader, Saskatchewan, Canada.

• In 1996, the Space Telescope Science Institute announced that photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope confirmed the existence of a "black hole" equal to the mass of 2 billion suns in a galaxy some 30 million light years away.

• In 2005, President Bush, in Belgium for a NATO summit, scolded Russia for backsliding on democracy and urged Mideast allies to take difficult steps for peace. Israel freed 500 Palestinian prisoners in a goodwill gesture. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush wrapped up their tour of tsunami-ravaged nations with a visit to the Maldives.

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