This Day in History

Posted: Monday, November 13, 2006

In Alaska

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• In 1909, W.D. Wheeler of Fairbanks narrowly escaped death when an 18-pound crowbar fell from a second story window in a government warehouse.

• In 1943, a fire in downtown Fairbanks caused more than $50,000 damage.

• In 1954, a spokesman from Standard Oil Company told an "All-Alaska Chamber of Commerce" meeting that Alaska's oil development prospects were very good.

In the nation

• In 1789, Benjamin Franklin wrote in a letter to a friend, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

• In 1927, the Holland Tunnel opened to the public, providing access between New York City and New Jersey beneath the Hudson River.

• In 1942, the minimum draft age in the United States was lowered from 21 to 18.

• In 1956, the Supreme Court struck down laws calling for racial segregation on public city and state buses, almost a year after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus to a white man, sparking a boycott by blacks.

• In 1982, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated in Washington.

• In 1986, President Reagan publicly acknowledged that the U.S. had sent "defensive weapons and spare parts" to Iran in an attempt to improve relations, but denied the shipments were part of a deal aimed at freeing hostages in Lebanon.

• In 1996, a grand jury in St. Petersburg, Fla., declined to indict police officer Jim Knight, who had fatally shot black motorist TyRon Lewis; the decision prompted angry mobs to return to the streets. A jury in Pittsburgh acquitted a suburban police officer, John Vojtas, in the death of black motorist Jonny Gammage. Sgt. Loren B. Taylor, a drill sergeant who'd had sex with three female recruits at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., was given five months in prison and a bad-conduct discharge in the first sentencing of the burgeoning Army sex scandal.

• In 2001, President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin met at the White House. Bishop Wilton Gregory was elected the first black president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In the world

• In 1775, during the American Revolution, U.S. forces captured Montreal.

• In 1971, the U.S. space probe Mariner 9 went into orbit around Mars.

• In 1985, some 23,000 residents of Armero, Colombia, died when a gigantic mudslide buried the city.

• In 2001, Afghan opposition fighters rolled into Kabul after Taliban troops slipped away under cover of darkness. Eight foreign aid workers - two Americans, two Australians and four Germans - held captive in Afghanistan for three months were freed by anti-Taliban fighters.

• In 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in Jerusalem, strongly rebuked Iran's leadership, saying "no civilized nation" can call for the annihilation of another - a reference to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's remark that Israel should be "wiped off the map."

An Iraqi woman arrested by Jordanian authorities confessed on television to trying to blow herself up with her husband in one of the three Nov. 9 suicide attacks in Amman.

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