Today in History
Today is Saturday, March 18, the 77th day of 2023. There are 288 days left in the year. Today’s highlight in history:
On March 18, 1940, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini met at the Brenner Pass, where the Italian dictator agreed to join Germany’s war against France and Britain.
On this date:
• In 1766, Britain repealed the Stamp Act of 1765.
• In 1922, Mohandas K. Gandhi was sentenced in India to six years’ imprisonment for civil disobedience. (He was released after serving two years.)
• In 1925, the Tri-State Tornado struck southeastern Missouri, southern Illinois and southwestern Indiana, resulting in some 700 deaths.
• In 1937, in America’s worst school disaster, nearly 300 people, most of them children, were killed in a natural gas explosion at the New London Consolidated School in Rusk County, Texas.
• In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order authorizing the War Relocation Authority, which was put in charge of interning Japanese-Americans, with Milton S. Eisenhower (the younger brother of Dwight D. Eisenhower) as its director.
• In 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Gideon v. Wainwright, ruled unanimously that state courts were required to provide legal counsel to criminal defendants who could not afford to hire an attorney on their own.
• In 1965, the first spacewalk took place as Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov went outside his Voskhod 2 capsule, secured by a tether.
• In 1974, most of the Arab oil-producing nations ended their 5-month-old embargo against the United States that had been sparked by American support for Israel in the Yom Kippur War.
• In 2002, Brittanie Cecil died two days short of her 14th birthday after being hit in the head by a puck at a game between the host Columbus Blue Jackets and Calgary Flames; it was apparently the first such fan fatality in NHL history.
• In 2016, police in Brussels captured Europe’s most wanted fugitive, Salah Abdeslam, who was the prime suspect in the deadly 2015 Paris attacks.
• In 2020, the U.S. and Canada agreed to temporarily close their shared border to nonessential travel in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ten years ago: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton announced her support for gay marriage in an online video released by the gay rights advocacy group Human Rights Campaign. A mortar shell explosion killed seven Marines from Camp Lejeune and injured eight other people during mountain warfare training at Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada.
Five years ago: A self-driving Uber SUV struck and killed a pedestrian in suburban Phoenix in the first death involving a fully autonomous test vehicle; Uber suspended its autonomous vehicle testing program in Arizona, California, Pittsburgh and Toronto after the crash. Vladimir Putin rolled to a crushing re-election victory for six more years as Russia’s president. The fourth in a series of bombings in Austin, Texas, left two people injured; authorities said it was triggered along a street by a nearly invisible tripwire. “Black Panther” became the first film since “Avatar” in 2009 to top the weekend box office for five weeks in a row.
One year ago: Vladimir Putin appeared at a huge flag-waving rally at a Moscow stadium Friday and lavished praise on his troops fighting in Ukraine, three weeks into the invasion that led to heavier-than-expected Russian losses on the battlefield and increasingly authoritarian rule. Volkswagen recalled more than 246,000 SUVs in the U.S. and Canada because faulty wiring harnesses could make them brake unexpectedly.
Today’s Birthdays: Composer John Kander is 96. Actor Brad Dourif is 73. Jazz musician Bill Frisell is 72. Alt-country musician Karen Grotberg (The Jayhawks) is 64. Movie writer-director Luc Besson is 64.