This Day in History — February 8

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Today is the the 39th day of the year. There are 326 days left in the year.


1924: The first US execution by gas takes place at the Nevada State Prison in Carson City.



1517: Captain Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba, a Spanish explorer, sets sail from Cuba to discover Mexico.

1560: Turkish galleys rout Spanish fleet under Duke of Medina Celi off Tripoli.

1587: Mary, Queen of Scots is beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle in England after being accused of plotting the murder of England’s Queen Elizabeth I.

1904: The Russo-Japanese War begins.

1910: The Boy Scouts of America is incorporated.

1920: Russian Bolsheviks capture Odessa in the Ukraine.

1922: US President Warren G Harding has a radio installed in the White House.

1949: Republic of Ireland declares it is unable to participate in NATO while island remains divided.

1952: Queen Elizabeth II proclaims her accession to the British throne following the death of her father, King George VI.

1962: US military council is established in South Vietnam.

1963: Rebels in Baghdad, Iraq, assassinate Premier Abdul Karim Kassem, who is replaced by Abdul Salam Arif.

1964: Holland’s Princess Irene renounces her rights to the throne to marry Roman Catholic Spanish prince, Carlos Hugo of Bourbon-Parma.

1975: Soviet spacemen begin training with Americans for joint US-Soviet Apollo-Soyuz flights.

1980: US President Jimmy Carter unveils a plan to reintroduce draft registration.

1990: Punctured oil tanker leaks over 950,000 litres of oil into Pacific, threatening Southern California beaches.

1991: A Saudi desalination plant is forced to close as a huge oil slick created by Iraqi destruction of Kuwaiti oil wells hits the coastline.

1992: US-European Ulysses space probe passes Jupiter.

1993: Iranian passenger plane crashes outside Tehran; 132 die.

1994: The head of the French army’s history section is fired over a report that cast doubt on the innocence of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, who was arrested for treason in 1894.

1995: A powerful earthquake rocks Colombia, killing at least 38 people and injuring more than 230 others.

1996: A cargo plane crashes into the market in Kinshasa, Zaire, killing at least 350 people.

1998: New tremors kill 250 people in an area of Afghanistan hit by a quake that killed 4,500 people just days earlier.

1999: Hundreds of dignitaries and heads of state, many of them bitter enemies, attend the funeral of King Hussein of Jordan.

2000: Electronic vandals disrupt some of the Web’s most popular sites by using dozens of powerful computers to spew out a crippling flood of fake data.

2001: Astronauts on the space shuttle Atlantis prepare to dock with the international space station 360 kilometres above Earth.

2002: The United Nations ends talks with the Cambodian Government on a genocide tribunal for leaders of the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge communist regime.

2005: Elated and exhausted, Ellen MacArthur finishes a solo around-the-world sailing record after more than 71 days of navigating stormy seas, 65 mph winds and a broken sail. She completes the 26,000-mile circumnavigation near the south coast of England aboard her 75-foot trimaran.

2006: Nepal’s first election in seven years are tainted with rebel attacks, the army’s shooting of protesters and low turnout — dealing a blow to the absolute rule of a king who seized power a year ago to stamp out the insurgents and restore political order.

2007: Colombia’s Constitutional Court rules that gay couples in long-term relationships should have the same rights to shared assets as heterosexual couples, marking the first recognition of gay couples’ rights in this South American nation.

2008: Officials confirm that Amit Kumar, the alleged mastermind of an organ transplant operation in India that illegally removed hundreds of kidneys — sometimes from unwilling donors — has been arrested at a jungle resort in southern Nepal.

2010: Iran presses ahead with plans that will increase its ability to make nuclear weapons as it formally informs the UN nuclear agency of its intention to enrich uranium to higher levels.

2011: A young Google executive who helped ignite Egypt’s uprising energises a cheering crowd of hundreds of thousands with his first appearance in their midst after being released from 12 days in secret detention. “We won’t give up,” he promises at one of the biggest protests yet in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.



John Ruskin, English author-artist (1819-1900); Jules Verne, French author (1828-1905); Tunku (Prince) Abdul Rahman Putra Alhaj, first prime minister of independent Malaya (Malaysia) (1903-1990); Jack Lemmon, US actor (1925-2001); James Dean, US actor (1931-1955); Nick Nolte, US actor (1941- ); John Grisham, US author (1955- ); Gary Coleman, US actor (1968-2010).

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