Today In History, September 12th


Today is Saturday, Sept. 12, the 256th day of 2020. There are 110 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Sept. 12, 1962, in a speech at Rice University in Houston, President John F. Kennedy reaffirmed his support for the manned space program, declaring: “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
On this date:
In 1913, Olympic legend Jesse Owens was born in Oakville, Ala.
In 1942, during World War II, a German U-boat off West Africa torpedoed the RMS Laconia, which was carrying Italian prisoners of war, British soldiers and civilians; it’s estimated more than 1,600 people died while some 1,100 survived after the ship sank. The German crew, joined by other U-boats, began rescue operations. (On September 16, the rescue effort came to an abrupt halt when the Germans were attacked by a U.S. Army bomber; as a result, U-boat commanders were ordered to no longer rescue civilian survivors of submarine attacks.)
In 1958, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Cooper v. Aaron, unanimously ruled that Arkansas officials who were resisting public school desegregation orders could not disregard the high court’s rulings.
In 1977, South African Black student leader and anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko (BEE’-koh), 30, died while in police custody, triggering an international outcry.
In 1987, reports surfaced that Democratic presidential candidate Joseph Biden had borrowed, without attribution, passages of a speech by British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock (KIHN’-ik) for one of his own campaign speeches. (The Kinnock report, along with other damaging revelations, prompted Biden to drop his White House bid.)
In 1992, the space shuttle Endeavour blasted off, carrying with it Mark Lee and Jan Davis, the first married couple in space; Mae Jemison, the first Black woman in space; and Mamoru Mohri, the first Japanese national to fly on a U.S. spaceship. Police in Peru captured Shining Path founder Abimael Guzman. Actor Anthony Perkins died in Hollywood at age 60.
In 1994, a stolen, single-engine Cessna crashed into the South Lawn of the White House, coming to rest against the executive mansion; the pilot, Frank Corder, was killed.
In 2001, stunned rescue workers continued to search for bodies in the World Trade Center’s smoking rubble a day after a terrorist attack that shut down the financial capital, badly damaged the Pentagon and left thousands dead. President Bush, branding the attacks in New York and Washington “acts of war,” said “this will be a monumental struggle of good versus evil” and that “good will prevail.”
In 2003, in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, U.S. forces mistakenly opened fire on vehicles carrying police, killing eight of them.
In 2005, at the start of his confirmation hearing, Supreme Court nominee John Roberts pledged to judge with humility and “without fear or favor” if approved as the nation’s 17th chief justice.
In 2008, a Metrolink commuter train struck a freight train head-on in Los Angeles, killing 25 people. (Federal investigators said the Metrolink engineer, Robert Sanchez, who was among those who died, had been text-messaging on his cell phone and ran a red light shortly before the crash.)
In 2012, the U.S. dispatched an elite group of Marines to Tripoli, Libya, after the mob attack in Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans. President Barack Obama strongly condemned the violence, and vowed to bring the killers to justice; Republican challenger Mitt Romney accused the administration of showing weakness in the face of tumultuous events in the Middle East.
Ten years ago: The United States won its first world basketball championship since 1994, beating Turkey 81-64 in Istanbul behind a sensational performance from tournament MVP Kevin Durant, who scored 28 points. Lady Gaga swept the MTV Video Music Awards with eight wins, wearing a dress made of meat as she accepted the video of the year award for “Bad Romance.” Movie director Claude Chabrol, one of the founders of the French New Wave movement, died in Paris at age 80.
Five years ago: Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran anti-war campaigner known for his unapologetically socialist views, won a landslide victory to lead Britain’s opposition Labor Party in one of the country’s biggest political shake-ups in decades. Flavia Pennetta defeated fellow Italian Roberta Vinci in straight sets, 7-6 (4), 6-2, to become the oldest first-time women’s major champion in the Open era; the 33-year-old Pennetta then announced her retirement. Playwright Frank D. Gilroy (“The Subject Was Roses”) died in Monroe, New York, at age 89.
One year ago: The Trump administration revoked a regulation from the Obama era that shielded many U.S. wetlands and streams from pollution; the regulation was opposed by developers and farmers who said it hurt economic development and infringed on property rights. The administration began enforcing radical new restrictions on who qualifies for asylum; the new policy would effectively deny asylum to nearly all immigrants arriving at the southern border who aren’t from Mexico. Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax filed a $400 million libel lawsuit against CBS after it aired interviews with two women who accused Fairfax of sexual assault more than 15 years earlier. (A judge tossed out the lawsuit five months later.)
Today’s Birthdays: Former U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., is 81. Actor Linda Gray is 80. Singer Maria Muldaur is 78. Actor Joe Pantoliano is 69. Singer-musician Gerry Beckley (America) is 68. Original MTV VJ Nina Blackwood is 68. Rock musician Neil Peart (Rush) is 68. Actor Peter Scolari is 65. Former Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is 64. Actor Rachel Ward is 63. Actor Amy Yasbeck is 58. Rock musician Norwood Fisher (Fishbone) is 55. Actor Darren E. Burrows is 54. Rock singer-musician Ben Folds (Ben Folds Five) is 54. Actor-comedian Louis (loo-ee) C.K. is 53. Rock musician Larry LaLonde (Primus) is 52. Golfer Angel Cabrera is 51. Actor-singer Will Chase is 50. Actor Josh Hopkins is 50. Country singer Jennifer Nettles is 46. Actor Lauren Stamile (stuh’-MEE’-lay) is 44. Rapper 2 Chainz is 43. Actor Kelly Jenrette is 42. Actor Ben McKenzie is 42. Singer Ruben Studdard is 42. Basketball Hall of Fame player Yao Ming is 40. Singer-actor Jennifer Hudson is 39. Actor Alfie Allen is 34. Actor Emmy Rossum is 34. Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman is 31. Country singer Kelsea Ballerini is 27. Actor Colin Ford is 24.