Today In History

Today’s Highlight

On Nov. 18, 1966, U.S. Roman Catholic bishops issued a Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence, which did away with the rule against eating meat on Fridays outside of Lent.

On this date

In 1883, the United States and Canada adopted a system of Standard Time zones.

In 1916, the World War I Battle of the Somme pitting British and French forces against German troops ended inconclusively after 4 1/2 months of bloodshed.

In 1928, Walt Disney’s first sound-synchronized animated cartoon, “Steamboat Willie” starring Mickey Mouse, premiered in New York.

In 1959, “Ben-Hur,” the Biblical-era spectacle starring Charlton Heston, had its world premiere in New York.

In 1976, Spain’s parliament approved a bill to establish a democracy after 37 years of dictatorship.

In 1978, U.S. Rep. Leo J. Ryan, D-Calif., and four others were killed in Jonestown, Guyana, by members of the Peoples Temple; the killings were followed by a night of mass murder and suicide by more than 900 cult members.

In 1987, the congressional Iran-Contra committees issued their final report, saying President Ronald Reagan bore “ultimate responsibility” for wrongdoing by his aides. A fire at London King’s Cross railway station claimed 31 lives.

In 1991, Shiite Muslim kidnappers in Lebanon freed Anglican Church envoy Terry Waite and Thomas Sutherland, the American dean of agriculture at the American University of Beirut.

In 1996, onetime CIA station chief Harold J. Nicholson was charged with selling top secrets to the Russians for more than $120,000. (Nicholson later pleaded guilty to espionage and was sentenced to 23 and 1/2 years in prison; he was spared a life sentence for cooperating with investigators.)

Ten years ago: President George W. Bush, in Hanoi for a summit of Pacific Rim countries, lined up support for pressuring long-defiant North Korea to prove it was serious about dismantling its nuclear weapons program.

Five years ago: In an incident that prompted national outrage, campus police at the University of California, Davis used pepper-spray on nonviolent Occupy protesters (the school later agreed to pay $1 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the demonstrators). Self-help author James Arthur Ray was sentenced to two years in prison for leading an Arizona sweat lodge ceremony that was supposed to offer spiritual enlightenment but instead resulted in three deaths. Syria agreed in principle to allow dozens of Arab observers into the country to oversee a peace plan.

One year ago: The Islamic State group announced that it had killed a Norwegian man and a Chinese man after earlier demanding ransoms for the two. Raphael Holiday was executed by the state of Texas for setting a fire that killed his 18-month-old daughter and her two young half-sisters at an East Texas home in Sept. 2000.

Thought for Today

“It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.” — William G. McAdoo, American government official (1863-1941)