Good morning, it’s Thursday, Feb. 20, the 51st day of 2014. There are 314 days left in the year. Temperatures will be around 60 at the start of the day and it will be breezy. Morning clouds should give way to afternoon sun as temperatures rise into the 70s. Gusty winds, low humidity and dry or dead vegetation combine today to create a potential for explosive wildfires. A red flag warning is in effect from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. today along and west of a line from Sherman to Waxahachie to Temple. Temperatures will drop to around 40 overnight.
On February 20, 1839—175 years ago today—a bill banning dueling in the District of Columbia took effect. Henry Clay of Kentucky, no stranger to dueling pistols himself, backed the measure, saying, "When public opinion is renovated and chastened by reason, religion and humanity, the practice of dueling will be discountenanced." Thirty years earlier Clay fought a celebrated duel with Kentucky statesman Humphrey Marshall over an insult delivered while both men were serving in the Kentucky state Legislature. The outcome was described in a letter (complete with misspellings) that was preserved for history: “..Clay & Marshal fought on thursday last and neither of them killed Clay is slightly wounded in the thigh and Marshal just graised on the brest Clay graised him the first shot on the brest Marshal mised Clay the second shot Marshal mised & Clays pistol mised fire the third Marshall shot Clay through the thigh but did brake the bone and Clay mist him…”
Today's Highlight in History:
On Feb. 20, 1944, during World War II, U.S. strategic bombers began raiding German aircraft manufacturing centers in a series of attacks that became known as "Big Week."
On This Date:
In 1792, President George Washington signed an act creating the U.S. Post Office.
In 1809, the Supreme Court ruled that no state legislature could annul the judgments or determine the jurisdictions of federal courts.
In 1862, William Wallace Lincoln, the 11-year-old son of President Abraham Lincoln and first lady Mary Todd Lincoln, died at the White House, apparently of typhoid fever.
In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt signed an immigration act which excluded "idiots, imbeciles, feebleminded persons, epileptics, insane persons" from being admitted to the United States.
In 1933, Congress proposed the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to repeal Prohibition.
In 1938, Anthony Eden resigned as British foreign secretary following Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's decision to negotiate with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
In 1950, the U.S. Supreme Court, in United States v. Rabinowitz, ruled 5-3 that authorities making a lawful arrest did not need a warrant to search and seize evidence in an area that was in the "immediate and complete control" of the suspect.
In 1962, astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth as he flew aboard Project Mercury's Friendship 7 spacecraft.
In 1971, the National Emergency Warning Center in Colorado erroneously ordered U.S. radio and TV stations off the air; some stations heeded the alert, which was not lifted for about 40 minutes.
In 1987, a bomb left by Unabomber Ted Kaczynski exploded behind a computer store in Salt Lake City, seriously injuring store owner Gary Wright. Soviet authorities released Jewish activist Josef Begun.
In 1999, movie reviewer Gene Siskel died at a hospital outside Chicago at age 53.
In 2003, a fire sparked by pyrotechnics broke out during a concert by the group Great White at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, R.I., killing 100 people and injuring about 200 others.
Ten years ago:
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered the state attorney general to take immediate legal steps to stop same-sex weddings in San Francisco. (The next month, the California Supreme Court ordered an immediate halt to same-sex weddings in San Francisco.) Bypassing angry Senate Democrats, President George W. Bush installed Alabama Attorney General William Pryor as a U.S. appeals court judge in his second "recess appointment" of a controversial nominee in five weeks.
Five years ago:
President Barack Obama warned a gathering of mayors at the White House that he would "call them out" if they wasted the money from his massive economic stimulus plan. The Dow Jones industrial average ended the week at 7,365.67, the lowest level in more than six years. Israeli President Shimon Peres chose Benjamin Netanyahu to form a new government. The WTA fined Dubai Tennis Championships organizers a record $300,000 after Israeli player Shahar Peer was denied a visa by the United Arab Emirates.
One year ago:
The Obama administration announced a broad new effort to fight the growing theft of American trade secrets following fresh evidence linking cyberstealing to China's military. Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., entered a guilty plea in federal court to criminal charges that he'd engaged in a scheme to spend $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items; his wife, Sandra Jackson, pleaded guilty to filing false joint federal income tax returns.
Gloria Vanderbilt is 90. Actor Sidney Poitier is 87. Racing Hall of Famer Bobby Unser is 80. Actress Marj Dusay is 78. Jazz-soul singer Nancy Wilson is 77. Racing Hall of Famer Roger Penske is 77. Singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie is 73. Hockey Hall-of-Famer Phil Esposito is 72. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is 72. Movie director Mike Leigh is 71. Actress Brenda Blethyn is 68. Actress Sandy Duncan is 68. Rock musician J. Geils is 68. Actor Peter Strauss is 67. Rock singer-musician-producer Walter Becker (Steely Dan) is 64. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is 63. Country singer Kathie Baillie is 63. Actor John Voldstad is 63. Newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst is 60. Actor Anthony Stewart Head is 60. Country singer Leland Martin is 57. Actor James Wilby is 56. Rock musician Sebastian Steinberg is 55. Comedian Joel Hodgson is 54. Basketball Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkley is 51. Rock musician Ian Brown (Stone Roses) is 51. Actor Willie Garson is 50. Actor French Stewart is 50. Actor Ron Eldard is 49. Model Cindy Crawford is 48. Actor Andrew Shue is 47. Actress Lili Taylor is 47. Singer Brian Littrell is 39. Actress Lauren Ambrose is 36. Actor Jay Hernandez is 36. Country musician Coy Bowles is 35. Actress Majandra Delfino is 33. Singer-musician Chris Thile is 33. Actor Jake Richardson is 29. Singer Rihanna is 26.
Thought for Today:
"I've always believed in the adage that the secret of eternal youth is arrested development." - Alice Roosevelt Longworth, former first daughter (born 1884, died this date in 1980).