Today in History

AP News
Posted: Aug 07, 2011 12:00 AM
Today in History

Today is Sunday, Aug. 7, the 219th day of 2011. There are 146 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Aug. 7, 1961, Yale psychology professor Stanley Milgram began conducting his famous _ as well as controversial _ human behavior experiments concerning obedience toward authority figures.

(In the experiment, supervised volunteers were fooled into believing they were punishing a "learner" in an adjacent room for answering test questions incorrectly by administering increasingly strong electrical shocks, although in fact there were no shocks. Most of the "teachers," with verbal prodding, kept delivering what they thought were actual jolts even as the "learner" cried out in pain and banged on the door before falling silent.)

On this date:

In 1782, Gen. George Washington created the Order of the Purple Heart, a decoration to recognize merit in enlisted men and non-commissioned officers.

In 1882, the famous feud between the Hatfields of West Virginia and the McCoys of Kentucky erupted into full-scale violence.

In 1911, movie director Nicholas Ray ("Rebel Without a Cause") was born in Galesville, Wis.

In 1942, U.S. and allied forces landed at Guadalcanal, marking the start of the first major allied offensive in the Pacific during World War II.

In 1947, the balsa wood raft Kon-Tiki, which had carried a six-man crew 4,300 miles across the Pacific Ocean, crashed into a reef in a Polynesian archipelago; all six crew members reached land safely.

In 1959, the United States launched the Explorer 6 satellite, which sent back images of Earth.

In 1964, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, giving President Lyndon B. Johnson broad powers in dealing with reported North Vietnamese attacks on U.S. forces.

In 1971, the Apollo 15 moon mission ended successfully as its command module splashed down in the Pacific Ocean.

In 1991, former Iranian Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar, 76, was slain, along with his aide, at his home in suburban Paris.

In 1998, terrorist bombs at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.

Ten years ago: Three researchers told a committee at the National Academy of Sciences they were unswayed by arguments against human cloning and would soon try to clone human beings. The Vatican denounced what it called a "slanderous campaign" against the Roman Catholic Church over the actions of Pope Pius XII during the Holocaust. Harmonica virtuoso Larry Adler died in London at age 87.

Five years ago: Oil prices jumped after BP said it had discovered corrosion so severe it would have to replace 16 miles of pipeline at the huge Prudhoe Bay oil field in Alaska. Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe (oo-REE'-bay) was sworn in for an unprecedented second term.

One year ago: Elena Kagan was sworn in as the 112th justice and fourth woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. A healthy-looking Fidel Castro appealed to President Barack Obama to stave off global nuclear war in an address to parliament that marked his first official government appearance since emergency surgery four years earlier. Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, John Randle, Dick LeBeau, Rickey Jackson, Russ Grimm and Floyd Little were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Today's Birthdays: Writer-producer Stan Freberg is 85. Rhythm-and-blues singer Herb Reed (The Platters) is 83. Magician, author and lecturer James Randi is 83. Former baseball pitcher Don Larsen is 82. Bluesman Magic Slim is 74. Actress Verna Bloom is 72. Humorist Garrison Keillor is 69. Singer B.J. Thomas is 69. Singer Lana Cantrell is 68. Actor John Glover is 67. Actor David Rasche is 67. Rhythm-and-blues singer Harold Hudson is 62. Former diplomat, talk show host and activist Alan Keyes is 61. Country singer Rodney Crowell is 61. Actress Caroline Aaron is 59. Comedian Alexei Sayle is 59. Actor Wayne Knight is 56. Rock singer Bruce Dickinson is 53. Marathon runner Alberto Salazar is 53. Actor David Duchovny is 51. Country musician Michael Mahler (Wild Horses) is 50. Actress Delane Matthews is 50. Actor Harold Perrineau is 48. Jazz musician Marcus Roberts is 48. Country singer Raul Malo is 46. Actress Charlotte Lewis is 44. Actress Sydney Penny is 40. Actor Michael Shannon is 37. Actress Charlize Theron (shahr-LEES' THAYR'-ehn) is 36. Rock musician Barry Kerch (Shinedown) is 35.

Thought for Today: "People who cannot recognize a palpable absurdity are very much in the way of civilization." _ Agnes Repplier, American essayist (1858-1950).

(Above Advance for Use Sunday, Aug. 7)

Copyright 2011, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.