Today in History

Today is Thursday, June 20, the 171st day of 2013. There are 194 days left in the year. Summer arrives at 10:04 p.m. Pacific time (Friday 1:04 a.m. Eastern time).

Today’s Highlight in History:

On June 20, 1863, West Virginia became the 35th state.

On this date:

In 1782, Congress approved the Great Seal of the United States, featuring the emblem of the bald eagle.

In 1791, King Louis XVI of France and his family attempted to flee the country in the so-called Flight to Varennes but were caught.

In 1837, Queen Victoria acceded to the British throne following the death of her uncle, King William IV.

In 1893, a jury in New Bedford, Mass., found Lizzie Borden not guilty of the ax murders of her father and stepmother.

In 1921, U.S. Rep. Alice Mary Robertson, R-Okla., became the first woman to preside over a session of the House of Representatives.

In 1943, race-related rioting erupted in Detroit; federal troops were sent in two days later to quell the violence that resulted in more than 30 deaths.

In 1947, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel was shot dead at the Beverly Hills, Calif., mansion of his girlfriend, Virginia Hill, apparently at the order of mob associates.

In 1963, the United States and Soviet Union signed an agreement to set up a “hot line” between the two superpowers.

In 1967, boxer Muhammad Ali was convicted in Houston of violating Selective Service laws by refusing to be drafted. (Ali’s conviction was ultimately overturned by the Supreme Court).

In 1972, three days after the arrest of the Watergate burglars, President Richard Nixon met at the White House with his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman; the secretly made tape recording of this meeting ended up with the notorious 18½-minute gap.

In 1982, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed National Bald Eagle Day.

In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, 6-3, in Atkins v. Virginia that executing mentally disabled murderers was unconstitutionally cruel.

Ten years ago: Secretary of State Colin Powell met separately with the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, praising the Israelis for efforts toward an eventual peace settlement and urging speed on the Palestinians. President George W. Bush named Scott McClellan his new press secretary, succeeding Ari Fleischer. Wildfires fueled by high winds burned 250 homes in southern Arizona.

Five years ago: Lightning began sparking more than 2,000 fires across northern and central California, eventually burning over a million acres.

One year ago: A Republican-controlled House committee voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over Justice Department documents related to Operation Fast and Furious. (The full House voted in favor of the contempt citation eight days later.) Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin won the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player. Painter and sketch artist LeRoy Neiman, best known for evoking the kinetic energy of the world’s biggest sporting and leisure events with bright quick strokes, died in New York at age 91.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Martin Landau is 85. Actress Olympia Dukakis is 82. Actor James Tolkan is 82. Actor Danny Aiello is 80. Blues musician Lazy Lester is 80. Actor John Mahoney is 73. Movie director Stephen Frears is 72. Singer-songwriter Brian Wilson is 71. Actor John McCook is 69. Singer Anne Murray is 68. TV personality Bob Vila is 67. Musician Andre Watts is 67. Actress Candy Clark is 66. Producer Tina Sinatra is 65. Rhythm-and-blues singer Lionel Richie is 64. Actor John Goodman is 61. Rock musician Michael Anthony is 59. Pop musician John Taylor is 53. Rock musician Mark DeGliantoni (de-GLI’-an-toh-nee) is 51. Rock musician Murphy Karges (Sugar Ray) is 46. Actress Nicole Kidman is 46. Country/bluegrass singer-musician Dan Tyminski is 46. Movie director Robert Rodriguez is 45. Actor Peter Paige is 44. Actor Josh Lucas is 42. Rock musician Jeordie White (AKA Twiggy Ramirez) is 42. Rock singer Chino Moreno (Deftones) is 40. Country-folk singer-songwriter Amos Lee is 36. Country singer Chuck Wicks is 34. Christian rock musician Chris Dudley (Underoath) is 30. Rock singer Grace Potter (Grace Potter & the Nocturnals) is 30. Actor Mark Saul is 28. Actress Dreama Walker is 27. Actor Chris Mintz-Plasse (plahs) is 24. Actress Maria Lark is 16.

Thought for Today: “Know how to ask. There is nothing more difficult for some people, nor for others, easier.” — Baltasar Gracian, Spanish philosopher (1601-1658).

(Above Advance for Use Thursday, June 20)

Copyright 2013, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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