Today is Thursday, April 19, the 110th day of 2012. There are 256 days left in the year.
Today's highlight in history:
On April 19, 1912, a special subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee opened hearings in New York into the Titanic disaster. (The hearings, which were subsequently moved to Washington, D.C., concluded on May 28.)
On this date:
In 1012, Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury, was slain by Danish invaders in Greenwich, England, after refusing to allow himself to be ransomed. (Revered as a martyr, Alphege was canonized by Pope Gregory VII in 1078.)
In 1775, the American Revolutionary War began with the battles of Lexington and Concord.
In 1861, a week after the Civil War began, President Abraham Lincoln authorized a blockade of Southern ports.
In 1933, the United States went off the gold standard.
In 1943, during World War II, tens of thousands of Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto began a valiant but ultimately futile battle against Nazi forces.
In aaa1951, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, relieved of his Far East command by President Harry S. Truman, bid farewell in an address to Congress in which he quoted a line from a ballad: "Old soldiers never die; they just fade away."
In 1966, Bobbi Gibb became the first woman to run in the Boston Marathon, which at that time did not allow women to participate. (Gibb jumped into the middle of the pack after the sound of the starting pistol and finished in 3:21:40.)
In 1967, Kathrine Switzer became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon under an official number by registering without mentioning her gender; by her own estimate, she finished in 4 hours and 20 minutes. (Bobbi Gibb, again running unofficially, finished in 3:27:17.)
In 1982, astronauts Sally K. Ride and Guion S. Bluford Jr. became the first woman and first African-American to be tapped for U.S. space missions.
In 1993, the 51-day siege at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, ended as fire destroyed the structure after federal agents began smashing their way in; dozens of people, including sect leader David Koresh, were killed.
In 1995, a truck bomb destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people. (Bomber Timothy McVeigh was later convicted of federal murder charges and executed.)
In 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany was elected pope in the first conclave of the new millennium; he took the name Benedict XVI.
Ten years ago: The U.N. Security Council gave unanimous support to sending a U.N. fact-finding team to the Jenin refugee camp to determine what happened during Israel's military assault. The space shuttle Atlantis returned to Earth after installing the first girder for a giant framework at the international space station.
Five years ago: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered a bleak assessment of Iraq, saying the war was "lost," triggering an angry backlash by Republicans. A jury in Selmer, Tenn., convicted Mary Winkler of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of her preacher-husband, Matthew. (Mary Winkler spent seven months in custody, with two months served in a mental facility.)
One year ago: Cuba's Communist Party picked 79-year-old Raul Castro to replace his ailing brother Fidel as first secretary during a key Party Congress. (The 84-year-old Fidel Castro made a surprise appearance, to thunderous applause from the delegates.) Syria did away with 50 years of emergency rule, but emboldened and defiant crowds accused President Bashar Assad of simply trying to buy time while clinging to power. Norwegian runner Grete Waitz, 57, who'd won nine New York marathons and the silver medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, died in Oslo.
Today's birthdays: Actor Hugh O'Brian is 87. Actress Elinor Donahue is 75. Rock musician Alan Price (The Animals) is 70. Actor Tim Curry is 66. Pop singer Mark "Flo" Volman (The Turtles; Flo and Eddie) is 65. Actor Tony Plana ("Ugly Betty") is 60. Former tennis player Sue Barker is 56. Former race car driver Al Unser Jr. is 50. Recording executive Suge Knight is 47. Singer-songwriter Dar Williams is 45. Actress Ashley Judd and singer Bekka Bramlett are 44. Latin pop singer Luis Miguel is 42. Actresses Jennifer Esposito and Jennifer Taylor are 40. Jazz singer Madeleine Peyroux is 38. Actor James Franco is 34. Actress Kate Hudson is 33. Actors Hayden Christensen and Catalina Sandino Moreno are 31. Actor Courtland Mead and tennis player Maria Sharapova are 25.
Thought for today: "The crisis you have to worry about most is the one you don't see coming." — Mike Mansfield, American statesman (1903-2001).