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Today in History

  • Today in History

Today is Thursday, Nov. 18, the 322nd day of 2021. There are 43 days left in the year. 

  • Today's Highlight in History:

On Nov. 18, 1991, Shiite (SHEE'-eyet) Muslim kidnappers in Lebanon freed Anglican Church envoy Terry Waite and Thomas Sutherland, the American dean of agriculture at the American University of Beirut.

  • On this date:

In 1883, the United States and Canada adopted a system of Standard Time zones.In 1963, the Bell System introduced the first commercial touch-tone telephone system in Carnegie and Greensburg, Pennsylvania.
In 1966, U.S. Roman Catholic bishops did away with the rule against eating meat on Fridays outside of Lent.
In 1976, Spain's parliament approved a bill to establish a democracy after 37 years of dictatorship. 
In 1978, U.S. Rep. Leo J. Ryan, D-Calif., and four others were killed in Jonestown, Guyana, by members of the Peoples Temple; the killings were followed by a night of mass murder and suicide by more than 900 cult members.
In 1987, the congressional Iran-Contra committees issued their final report, saying President Ronald Reagan bore "ultimate responsibility" for wrongdoing by his aides. A fire at London King's Cross railway station claimed 31 lives.
In 1999, 12 people were killed when a bonfire under construction at Texas A-and-M University collapsed. A jury in Jasper, Texas, convicted Shawn Allen Berry of murder for his role in the dragging death of James Byrd Jr., but spared him the death penalty.
In 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled 4-to-3 that the state constitution guaranteed gay couples the right to marry.
In 2004, Former President Bill Clinton's library opened in Little Rock, Arkansas; in attendance were President George W. Bush, former President George H.W. Bush and former President Jimmy Carter. Former Ku Klux Klansman Bobby Frank Cherry, convicted of killing four black girls in the racially motivated bombing of a Birmingham, Alabama, church in 1963, died in prison at age 74. 
In 2005, eight months after Robert Blake was acquitted at a criminal trial of murdering his wife, a civil jury decided the actor was behind the slaying and ordered him to pay Bonny Lee Bakley's children $30 million.
In 2009, two days before turning 92, Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., set a record for longest-serving lawmaker in congressional history at 56 years, 320 days. (That record was broken in 2013 by U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich.)
In 2013, Toronto's city council voted to strip scandal-plagued Mayor Rob Ford of many of his powers following a heated debate in which he knocked over a city councilor.

  • Ten years ago: In an incident that prompted national outrage, campus police at the University of California, Davis used pepper spray on nonviolent Occupy protesters. (The school later agreed to pay $1 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the demonstrators.) Self-help author James Arthur Ray was sentenced to two years in prison for leading an Arizona sweat lodge ceremony that was supposed to offer spiritual enlightenment but instead resulted in three deaths. 
  • Five years ago: President-elect Donald Trump signaled a sharp policy shift to the right by picking Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general, Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo to head the CIA and Michael Flynn as his national security adviser.
  • One year ago: President Donald Trump filed for a recount of Wisconsin's two largest Democratic counties, paying the required $3 million cost and alleging that they were the sites of the "worst irregularities" although no evidence of illegal activity had been presented. (The recounts resulted in a slightly larger lead for Democrat Joe Biden.) House Democrats nominated Nancy Pelosi to be the speaker who would guide them in the new Congress with Joe Biden in the White House. Pfizer said new test results showed its coronavirus vaccine was safe and 95% effective, and that it protected older people most at risk of dying. The Federal Aviation Administration cleared Boeing's 737 Max for flight; regulators around the world had grounded the Max in March 2019 after a pair of deadly crashes. The Minnesota Timberwolves selected Georgia freshman guard Anthony Edwards with the No. 1 pick in the delayed NBA draft.
  • Today's Birthdays: Actor Brenda Vaccaro is 82. Author-poet Margaret Atwood is 82. Actor Linda Evans is 79. Actor Susan Sullivan is 79. Country singer Jacky Ward is 75. Actor Jameson Parker is 74. Actor-singer Andrea Marcovicci is 73. Rock musician Herman Rarebell is 72. Singer Graham Parker is 71. Actor Delroy Lindo is 69. Comedian Kevin Nealon is 68. Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon is 65. Actor Oscar Nunez is 63. Actor Elizabeth Perkins is 61. Singer Kim Wilde is 61. Actor Tim Guinee is 59. Rock musician Kirk Hammett (Metallica) is 59. Rock singer Tim DeLaughter (dee-LAW'-ter) is 56. Actor Romany Malco is 53. Actor Owen Wilson is 53. Actor Dan Bakkedahl is 53. Singer Duncan Sheik is 52. Actor Mike Epps is 51. Actor Peta Wilson is 51. Actor Chloe Sevigny (SEH'-ven-ee) is 47. Country singer Jessi Alexander is 45. Actor Steven Pasquale is 45. Rock musician Alberto Bof (Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real) is 44. Rapper Fabolous is 44. Actor-director Nate Parker is 42. Rapper Mike Jones is 41. Actor Mekia Cox is 40. Actor-comedian Nasim Pedrad (nah-SEEM' peh-DRAHD') is 40. Actor Allison Tolman is 40. Actor Christina Vidal is 40. Actor Damon Wayans Jr. is 39. Country singer TJ Osborne (Brothers Osborne) is 37. U.S. Olympic track star Allyson Felix is 36. Fashion designer Christian Siriano is 36. Actor Nathan Kress is 29.