By the Associated Press
Today is Thursday, March 27, the 86th day of 2014. There are 279 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On March 27, 1964, a Good Friday, Alaska was hit by a magnitude 9.2 earthquake (the strongest on record in North America) and tsunamis that together claimed about 130 lives.
On this date:
In 1513, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon (hwahn pahns duh LEE’-ohn) sighted present-day Florida.
In 1625, Charles I acceded to the English throne upon the death of James I.
In 1794, Congress approved “An Act to provide a Naval Armament” of six armed ships.
In 1884, the first telephone line between Boston and New York was inaugurated.
In 1912, first lady Helen Herron Taft and the wife of Japan’s ambassador to the United States, Viscountess Chinda, planted in Washington the first two of 3,000 cherry trees given as a gift by the mayor of Tokyo.
In 1933, Japan officially withdrew from the League of Nations.
In 1942, American servicemen were granted free mailing privileges.
In 1958, Nikita Khrushchev became Soviet premier in addition to First Secretary of the Communist Party.
In 1968, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (gah-GAH’-rihn), the first man to orbit the Earth, died in a plane crash.
In 1977, 583 people were killed when a KLM Boeing 747, attempting to take off, crashed into a Pan Am 747 on the Canary Island of Tenerife (ten-uh-REEF’).
In 1980, 123 workers died when a North Sea floating oil field platform, the Alexander Kielland, capsized during a storm.
In 1998, the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug Viagra, made by Pfizer, saying it had helped about two-thirds of impotent men improve their sexual function.
Ten years ago: Nearly half a million people surrounded Taiwan’s presidential office and blocked major streets to protest their country’s disputed presidential election. Shizuka Arakawa of Japan was the surprise winner at the women’s world figure skating championships in Dortmund, Germany; Americans Sasha Cohen and Michelle Kwan placed second and third.
Five years ago: President Barack Obama launched a fresh effort to defeat al-Qaida terrorists in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, ordering in 4,000 more troops. A suicide bomber set off an explosion at a packed mosque in Pakistan near the Afghan border, killing at least 48 people. The rising Red River broke a 112-year record and threatened the dikes fortifying Fargo, N.D. The main suspect in the Phoenix serial shooter attacks, Dale Hausner, was sentenced to death for six murders that had put the city on edge for nearly two years. (Hausner committed suicide in an isolation cell in June 2013.) Mutual fund pioneer Jack Dreyfus died in New York at age 95. Former NBC News economics reporter Irving R. Levine died in Washington at age 86.
One year ago: Lawyers for Colorado theater shooting suspect James Holmes said he would plead guilty to the attack that killed 12 people and serve the rest of his life in prison to avoid the death penalty. (Prosecutors rejected the offer.) Former South African President Nelson Mandela was admitted to a hospital for pneumonia (he was discharged 10 days later).
Today’s Birthdays: Dance company director Arthur Mitchell is 80. Actor Julian Glover is 79. Actor Jerry Lacy is 78. Hall of Fame racer Cale Yarborough is 75. Actor-director Austin Pendleton is 74. Actor Michael York is 72. Rock musician Tony Banks (Genesis) is 64. Rock musician Andrew Farriss (INXS) is 55. Jazz musician Dave Koz (kahz) is 51. Movie director Quentin Tarantino is 51. Rock musician Derrick McKenzie (Jamiroquai) is 50. Rock musician Johnny April (Staind) is 49. Actress Talisa Soto is 47. Actress Pauley Perrette is 45. Singer Mariah Carey is 44. Rock musician Brendan Hill (Blues Traveler) is 44. Actress Elizabeth Mitchell is 44. Actor Nathan Fillion is 43. Hip-hop singer Fergie (Black Eyed Peas) is 39. Actress Megan Hilty is 33. Actress Emily Ann Lloyd is 30. Actress Brenda Song is 26. Pop singer/songwriter Kimbra is 24. Actress Taylor Atelian is 19.
Thought for Today: “A sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within.” — Eudora Welty, American author (1909-2001).