Today in History: Feb. 28, Pope Benedict XVI becomes 1st pope to resign since 1415

By The Associated Press

Today is Wednesday, Feb. 28, the 59th day of 2024. There are 307 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Feb. 28, 2013, Benedict XVI became the first pope in 600 years to resign, ending an eight-year pontificate. (Benedict was succeeded the following month by Pope Francis.)

On this date:

In 1844, a 12-inch gun aboard the USS Princeton exploded as the ship was sailing on the Potomac River, killing Secretary of State Abel P. Upshur, Navy Secretary Thomas W. Gilmer and several others.

In 1849, the California gold rush began in earnest as regular steamship service started bringing gold-seekers to San Francisco.

In 1911, President William Howard Taft nominated William H. Lewis to be the first Black Assistant Attorney General of the United States.

In 1953, scientists James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick announced they had discovered the double-helix structure of DNA.

In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai issued the Shanghai Communique, which called for normalizing relations between their countries, at the conclusion of Nixon’s historic visit to China.

In 1975, 42 people were killed in London’s Underground when a train smashed into the end of a tunnel.

In 1993, a gun battle erupted at a religious compound near Waco, Texas, when Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents tried to arrest Branch Davidian leader David Koresh on weapons charges; four agents and six Davidians were killed as a 51-day standoff began.

In 1996, Britain’s Princess Diana agreed to divorce Prince Charles. (Their 15-year marriage officially ended in August 1996; Diana died in a car crash in Paris a year after that.)

In 2009, Paul Harvey, the news commentator and talk-radio pioneer whose staccato style made him one of the nation’s most familiar voices, died in Phoenix at age 90.

In 2012, Republican Mitt Romney won presidential primary victories in Arizona and Michigan.

In 2014, delivering a blunt warning to Moscow, President Barack Obama expressed deep concern over reported military activity inside Ukraine by Russia and warned “there will be costs” for any intervention.

In 2018, students and teachers returned under police guard to Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as classes resumed for the first time since a shooting that killed 17 people.

In 2020, the number of countries touched by the coronavirus climbed to nearly 60. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the week 12.4% lower in the market’s worst weekly performance since the 2008 financial crisis.

In 2022, Russian forces shelled Ukraine’s second-largest city, rocking a residential neighborhood, and closed in on the capital, Kyiv, in a 17-mile convoy of hundreds of tanks and other vehicles.

Today’s birthdays: Architect Frank Gehry is 95. Singer Sam the Sham is 87. Actor-director-dancer Tommy Tune is 85. Hall of Fame auto racer Mario Andretti is 84. Actor Kelly Bishop is 80. Actor Stephanie Beacham is 77. Writer-director Mike Figgis is 76. Actor Mercedes Ruehl is 76. Actor Bernadette Peters is 76. Former Energy Secretary Steven Chu is 76. Actor Ilene Graff is 75. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman is 71. Basketball Hall of Famer Adrian Dantley is 69. Actor John Turturro is 67. Rock singer Cindy Wilson is 67. Actor Rae Dawn Chong is 63. Actor Maxine Bahns is 55. Actor Robert Sean Leonard is 55. Rock singer Pat Monahan is 55. Author Daniel Handler (aka “Lemony Snicket”) is 54. Actor Tasha Smith is 53. Actor Rory Cochrane is 52. Actor Ali Larter is 48. Country singer Jason Aldean is 47. Actor Geoffrey Arend is 46. Actor Melanie Chandra (TV: “Code Black”) is 40. Actor Michelle Horn is 37. MLB relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman is 36. Actor True O’Brien is 30. Actor Madisen Beaty is 29. Actor Quinn Shephard is 29. Actor Bobb’e J. Thompson is 28.


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