Today in History - Feb. 1

/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Thursday, Feb. 1, the 32nd day of 2007. There are 333 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Feb. 1, 2003, the space shuttle Columbia broke up during re-entry, killing all seven of its crew members.

On this date:
In 1861, Texas voted to secede from the Union.

In 1896, Puccini’s opera “La Boheme” premiered in Turin.

In 1920, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police came into existence.

In 1943, one of America’s most highly decorated military units of World War II, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, made up almost entirely of Japanese-Americans, was authorized.

In 1946, Norwegian statesman Trygve Lie was chosen to be the first secretary-general of the United Nations.

In 1960, four black college students began a sit-in protest at a lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., where they’d been refused service.

In 1968, during the Vietnam War, Saigon’s police chief (Nguyen Ngoc Loan) executed a Viet Cong officer with a pistol shot to the head in a scene captured by Associated Press photographer Eddie Adams and NBC News.

In 1979, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini received a tumultuous welcome in Tehran as he ended nearly 15 years of exile.

In 1982, 25 years ago, “Late Night with David Letterman” premiered on NBC.

In 1991, 34 people were killed when a U.S. Air jetliner crashed atop a commuter plane on a runway at Los Angeles International Airport.

Ten years ago: Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori said he would open a “preliminary dialogue” with rebels holding 72 hostages in Lima, but again rejected their main demand that the government release their jailed comrades. Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Herb Caen died in San Francisco at age 80.

Five years ago: President Bush responded to the collapse of Enron by proposing regulation reforms of 401(k) retirement plans. Justice Department investigators directed President Bush’s staff to preserve the paper trail of any contact with Enron. Actress Winona Ryder was charged with four felony counts stemming from her shoplifting arrest at a Saks Fifth Avenue store in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Ryder was later convicted of felony grand theft and vandalism, and received three years’ probation.) The NCAA placed Alabama on five years’ probation, jolting the program with a two-year bowl ban and heavy scholarship reductions.

One year ago: In his first case on the Supreme Court, new Justice Samuel Alito split with the court’s conservatives, refusing to let Missouri execute a death-row inmate contesting lethal injection. French and German newspapers republished caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in what they called a defense of freedom of expression, sparking fresh anger from Muslims. United Airlines left bankruptcy after a painful restructuring that lasted more than three years.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Stuart Whitman is 79. Former Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin is 76. Singer Don Everly is 70. Actor Garrett Morris is 70. Singer Ray Sawyer (Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show) is 70. Actor Sherman Hemsley is 69. Bluegrass singer Del McCoury is 68. Jazz musician Joe Sample is 68. Comedian Terry Jones is 65. Actor-writer-producer Bill Mumy is 53. Rock musician Mike Campbell (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers) is 53. Rock singer Exene Cervenka is 51. Princess Stephanie of Monaco is 42. Country musician Dwayne Dupuy (Ricochet) is 42. Actress Sherilyn Fenn is 42. Lisa Marie Presley is 39. Comedian and actor Pauly Shore is 39. Actor Brian Krause is 38. Jazz musician Joshua Redman is 38. Rock musician Patrick Wilson (Weezer) is 38. Actor Michael C. Hall is 36. Rock musician Ron Welty is 36. Rapper Big Boi (Outkast) is 32. Country singer Julie Roberts is 28. Actor Jarrett Lennon is 25.

Thought for Today: “It isn’t what they say about you, it’s what they whisper.” — Errol Flynn, American actor (1909-1959).