Today in History
Today is Saturday, March 31, the 91st day of 2012. There are 275 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On March 31, 1932, Ford Motor Co. publicly unveiled its powerful flathead V8 engine; while not the first eight-cylinder engine, it was the first to be affordable to the general public, and proved very popular.
On this date:
In 1889, French engineer Gustave Eiffel unfurled the French tricolor from atop the Eiffel Tower, officially marking its completion.
In 1931, Notre Dame college football coach Knute Rockne, 43, was killed in the crash of a TWA plane in Bazaar, Kan.
In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Emergency Conservation Work Act, which created the Civilian Conservation Corps.
In 1943, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "Oklahoma!" opened on Broadway.
In 1949, Newfoundland (now called Newfoundland and Labrador) entered confederation as Canada's tenth province.
In 1953, Stanley Kubrick's first feature film, a war drama titled "Fear and Desire," premiered in New York.
In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson stunned the country by announcing at the conclusion of a broadcast address on Vietnam that he would not seek re-election.
In 1976, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that Karen Ann Quinlan, who was in a persistent vegetative state, could be disconnected from her respirator. (Quinlan, who remained unconscious, died in 1985.)
In 1986, 167 people died when a Mexicana Airlines Boeing 727 crashed in a remote mountainous region of Mexico.
In 1993, actor Brandon Lee, 28, was shot to death during the filming of a movie in Wilmington, N.C., by a bullet fragment lodged inside a prop gun.
In 1995, Mexican-American singer Selena Quintanilla-Perez, 23, was shot to death in Corpus Christi, Texas, by the founder of her fan club, Yolanda Saldivar, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
In 2005, Terri Schiavo, 41, died at a hospice in Pinellas Park, Fla., 13 days after her feeding tube was removed in a wrenching right-to-die dispute.
Ten years ago: Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon vowed to smash Palestinian militants in a broadcast speech that came the same day as a suicide bombing in Haifa that killed 15 Israelis. Pope John Paul II used his Easter message to call for an end to violence in the Holy Land. Connecticut beat Oklahoma 82-70 to conclude its second unbeaten season with a third women's national championship.
Five years ago: President George W. Bush called for the release of 15 British sailors and marines held by Iran, calling their capture by Tehran "inexcusable behavior." (The crew members were released on April 4, 2007.) President Bush again came to the defense of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, under criticism for his role in the firing of federal prosecutors, calling him "honorable and honest."
One year ago: Moammar Gadhafi struck a defiant stance after two high-profile defections from his regime, saying the Western leaders who had decimated his military with airstrikes should resign immediately -- not him. (Gadhafi's message was in the form of a scroll across the bottom of state TV as he remained out of sight.) Baseball fan Bryan Stow, a paramedic from Santa Cruz, Calif., was brutally beaten following the Dodgers' home opener against the Giants in Los Angeles. (Two men have been charged in connection with the attack.)
Today's Birthdays: Actress Peggy Rea is 91. Actor William Daniels is 85. Hockey Hall-of-Famer Gordie Howe is 84. Actor Richard Chamberlain is 78. Actress Shirley Jones is 78. Country singer-songwriter John D. Loudermilk is 78. Musician Herb Alpert is 77. Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is 72. U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., is 72. Actor Christopher Walken is 69. Comedian Gabe Kaplan is 67. Former Vice President Al Gore is 64. Author David Eisenhower is 64. Actress Rhea Perlman is 64. Actor Ed Marinaro is 62. Rock musician Angus Young (AC/DC) is 57. Actor Marc McClure is 55. Actor William McNamara is 47. Alt-country musician Bob Crawford (The Avett Brothers) is 41. Actor Ewan McGregor is 41. Rapper Tony Yayo is 34. Jazz musician Christian Scott is 29. Actress Jessica Szohr (TV: "Gossip Girl") is 27.
Thought for Today: "An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out?" -- Rene Descartes, French philosopher (born this date in 1596, died 1650).
Copyright 2012, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.