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This Day in History: Feb. 16

Written by on February 15, 2021

On this day, Feb. 16 …

2014: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, during a visit to Indonesia, calls climate change perhaps the “most fearsome” destructive weapon and mocks those who denies its existence or questioned its causes, comparing them to people who insist the Earth is flat.

Also on this day: 

  • 1804: Lt. Stephen Decatur leads a successful raid into Tripoli Harbor to burn the U.S. Navy frigate Philadelphia, which had fallen into the hands of pirates during the First Barbary War.
  • 1862: The Civil War Battle of Fort Donelson in Tennessee ends as some 12,000 Confederate soldiers surrender; Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s victory earns him the moniker “Unconditional Surrender Grant.”
  • 1868: The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks is organized in New York City.
  • 1945: American troops land on the island of Corregidor in the Philippines during World War II.
  • 1948: NBC-TV begins airing its first nightly newscast, “The Camel Newsreel Theatre,” which consists of Fox Movietone newsreels.
  • 1959: Fidel Castro becomes premier of Cuba a month and a half after the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista.
  • 1961: The United States launches the Explorer 9 satellite.
  • 1968: The nation’s first 911 emergency telephone system is inaugurated in Haleyville, Ala., as the speaker of the Alabama House, Rankin Fite, places a call from the mayor’s office in City Hall to a red telephone at the police station (also located in City Hall) that is answered by U.S. Rep. Tom Bevill.
  • 1996: Eleven people are killed in a fiery collision between an Amtrak passenger train and a Maryland commuter train in Silver Spring, Md.
  • 1998: A China Airlines Airbus A300 trying to land in fog near Taipei, Taiwan, crashes, killing all 196 people on board, plus seven on the ground.
  • 2001: President George W. Bush meets with Mexican President Vicente Fox on the first foreign trip of Bush’s presidency.
  • 2001: Dr. William H. Masters, who with his partner and later wife Virginia Johnson, pioneered research in the field of human sexuality, dies in Tucson, Ariz., at age 85. (The couple’s work was the basis of the Showtime series “Masters of Sex.”)
  • 2003: More than 100,000 people demonstrate in the streets of San Francisco to protest a possible U.S. invasion of Iraq.
  • 2009: In Stamford, Conn., a 200-pound chimpanzee named Travis goes berserk, severely mauling its owner’s friend, Charla Nash; Travis is shot dead by police.
  • 2018: In an indictment, special counsel Robert Mueller accuses 13 Russians of an elaborate plot to disrupt the 2016 U.S. presidential election with a huge but hidden social media trolling campaign aimed in part at helping Donald Trump.
  • 2018: Former presidential hopeful Mitt Romney officially launches his political comeback attempt, announcing that he was running for the Utah Senate seat that had been held by Republican Orrin Hatch, who chose not to seek reelection. (Romney would be elected in November, defeating Democrat Jenny Wilson.)

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