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February 17, 2013

Today in History

Today is Sunday, Feb. 17, the 48th day of 2013. There are 317 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Feb. 17, 1913, the Armory Show, a landmark exhibit of European modern art, opened in New York City. (One work in the exhibit that stirred much controversy was "Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2)," an abstract painting by French artist Marcel Duchamp.)

On this date:

In 1863, the International Red Cross was founded in Geneva.

In 1865, Columbia, S.C., burned as the Confederates evacuated and Union forces moved in. (It's not clear which side set the blaze.)

In 1897, the forerunner of the National PTA, the National Congress of Mothers, convened its first meeting in Washington.

In 1904, the original two-act version of Giacomo Puccini's opera "Madama Butterfly" was poorly received at its premiere at La Scala in Milan, Italy.

In 1933, Newsweek was first published by Thomas J.C. Martyn under the title "News-Week." (The magazine abandoned its print format at the end of last year in favor of an exclusively online edition.)

In 1947, the Voice of America began broadcasting to the Soviet Union.

In 1959, the United States launched Vanguard 2, a satellite which carried meteorological equipment.

In 1964, the Supreme Court, in Wesberry v. Sanders, ruled that congressional districts within each state had to be roughly equal in population.

In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon departed the White House with his wife, Pat, on a historic trip to China.

In 1983, the Scottish comedy-drama "Local Hero" was first released.

In 1988, Lt. Col. William Higgins, a Marine Corps officer serving with a United Nations truce monitoring group, was kidnapped in southern Lebanon by Iranian-backed terrorists (he was later slain by his captors).

In 1993, a ferry carrying some 1,000 people sank off Haiti; at least 700 of the people on board drowned.

Ten years ago: Twenty-one people were killed in a stampede at the crowded E2 nightclub in Chicago. European Union leaders declared their solidarity with the United States, warning Saddam Hussein that Iraq faced one "last chance" to disarm peacefully but calling war a last resort. Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler died of heatstroke at a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., hospital, less than 24 hours after complaining of dizziness during a spring training workout. An estimated 40 million viewers tuned in to the finale of Fox's reality show "Joe Millionaire," in which Evan Marriott chose Zora Andrich.

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