Today in History

AP News
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Posted: May 31, 2015 12:00 AM

Today is Sunday, May 31, the 151st day of 2015. There are 214 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On May 31, 1935, movie studio 20th Century Fox was created through a merger of the Fox Film Corp. and Twentieth Century Pictures.

On this date:

In 1669, English diarist Samuel Pepys (peeps) wrote the final entry of his journal, blaming his failing eyesight for his inability to continue.

In 1790, President George Washington signed into law the first U.S. copyright act.

In 1889, some 2,200 people in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, perished when the South Fork Dam holding back Lake Conemaugh collapsed, sending 20 million tons of water rushing through the town.

In 1910, the Union of South Africa was founded.

In 1949, former State Department official and accused spy Alger Hiss went on trial in New York, charged with perjury (the jury deadlocked, but Hiss was convicted in a second trial).

In 1961, South Africa became an independent republic as it withdrew from the British Commonwealth.

In 1962, former Nazi official Adolf Eichmann was hanged in Israel a few minutes before midnight for his role in the Holocaust.

In 1977, the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, three years in the making, was completed.

In 1985, 88 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured when 41 tornadoes swept through parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and Ontario, Canada, during an 8-hour period.

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush welcomed Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev to Washington for a summit meeting. The situation comedy "Seinfeld" began airing as a regular series on NBC.

In 1994, the United States announced it was no longer aiming long-range nuclear missiles at targets in the former Soviet Union.

In 2000, the reality TV show "Survivor" first debuted on CBS (the winner of the premiere series was Richard Hatch).

Ten years ago: Breaking a silence of 30 years, former FBI official W. Mark Felt stepped forward as "Deep Throat," the secret Washington Post source during the Watergate scandal. President George W. Bush, faced with a string of setbacks on Capitol Hill, shrugged off questions about his political clout and promised during a news conference to keep pushing Congress for a Social Security overhaul. Oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky (mih-hah-EEL' khoh-dohr-KAHV'-skee), once Russia's richest man, was convicted of charges including fraud and tax evasion and sentenced to nine years in prison. (He was pardoned by President Vladimir Putin in 2013.)

Five years ago: Israeli commandos stormed six ships carrying hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists on an aid mission to the blockaded Gaza Strip; eight Turkish activists and one Turkish-American were killed aboard one vessel, with each side accusing the other of starting the violence. Al-Qaida announced that its No. 3 official, Mustafa al-Yazid, had been killed along with members of his family. (A U.S. official said al-Yazid was believed to have died in a U.S. missile strike.) Artist Louise Bourgeois, 98, died in New York. Chris Haney, 59, co-creator of the popular Trivial Pursuit board game, died in Toronto.

One year ago: Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only American soldier held prisoner in Afghanistan, was freed by the Taliban in exchange for five Afghan detainees from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (Bergdahl, who'd gone missing in June 2009, was later charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.) A private Gulfstream IV jet went off a runway and crashed while trying to take off from Hanscom Field in Bedford, Massachusetts, killing Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz and six other people. Death claimed entertainment columnist Marilyn Beck, 85, and Academy Award-nominated actress Martha Hyer, 89.

Today's Birthdays: Actor-director Clint Eastwood is 85. Singer Peter Yarrow is 77. Former Anglican Church envoy Terry Waite is 76. Singer-musician Augie Meyers is 75. Actress Sharon Gless is 72. Football Hall-of-Famer Joe Namath is 72. Actor Tom Berenger is 65. Actor Gregory Harrison is 65. Actor Julio Oscar Mechoso is 60. Actor Kyle Secor is 58. Actress Roma Maffia (ma-FEE'-uh) is 57. Comedian Chris Elliott is 55. Actress Lea Thompson is 54. Singer Corey Hart is 53. Actor Hugh Dillon is 52. Rapper DMC is 51. Actress Brooke Shields is 50. Country musician Ed Adkins (The Derailers) is 48. TV host Phil Keoghan is 48. Jazz musician Christian McBride is 43. Actress Archie Panjabi is 43. Actor Colin Farrell is 39. Rock musician Scott Klopfenstein (Reel Big Fish) is 38. Actor Eric Christian Olsen is 38. Rock musician Andy Hurley (Fall Out Boy) is 35. Country singer Casey James (TV: "American Idol") is 33. Actor Jonathan Tucker is 33. Rapper Waka Flocka Flame is 29. Actor Curtis Williams Jr. is 28. Pop singer Normani Hamilton (Fifth Harmony) (TV: "The X Factor") is 19.

Thought for Today: "They that approve a private opinion, call it opinion; but they that dislike it, heresy; and yet heresy signifies no more than private opinion." — Thomas Hobbes, English political philosopher (1588-1679).

(Above Advance for Use Sunday, May 31)

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