[One of the few moments of humour in the otherwise incessant downer of the Bush Administration was the shooting of Harry Whittington in the face by his friend Dick Cheney; admittedly, it was dark humour - darker even than the heart of its perpetrator - but by that point we were getting pretty desperate...]
660 BCE - Japan's Meiji Government declared this to be the date for the country's foundation by Emperor Jimmu; from 1872 to 1948 the day was celebrated in Japan as Kigensetsu, whereas today's National Foundation Day is a far more sombre affair.
55 CE - Tiberius Claudius Caesar Britannicus, heir to the throne of the Roman Empire, died in Rome under mysterious circumstances, clearing the way for Nero to become Emperor.
731 CE - Pope Gregory II died; he was succeeded by Gregory III on March 18th.
1659 - During the Northern Wars an assault on Copenhagen by the Swedish forces of King Karl X Gustav (commanded by Otto Stenbock) was beaten back by Hans Schack and the Defenders of Copenhagen with heavy losses on the Swedish side.
1840 - Gaetano Donizetti's opera La Fille du Régiment premiered at the Opéra-Comique in Paris.
1843 - Giuseppe Verdi's opera I Lombardi premiered at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan.
1855 - Kassa Hailu was crowned Tewodros II, Emperor of Ethiopia, by Abuna Salama III in a ceremony at the church of Derasge Maryam.
1858 - The Blessed Virgin Mary reputedly appeared to Saint Bernadette Soubirous near the French village of Lourdes.
1873 - Spain's King Amadeus I abdicated, having held the throne for less than three years.
1889 - Japan adopted its so-called Meiji Constitution which, among other things, called for the first meeting of the Imperial Diet in November 1890; since 1948 that august body has been known as the National Diet.
1895 - The UK's lowest ever temperature of -27.2°C (-17 F) was recorded at Braemar in Aberdeenshire; this record was equalled in January 1982 and again in December 1995.
1916 - Emma Goldman was arrested for speaking out in favour of birth control.
1938 - BBC Television produced the world's first ever science fiction television program - an adaptation of a section of the Karel Capek play R.U.R., which coined the term 'robot'.
1942 - The Battle of Bukit Timah was fought in Singapore during World War II, following which Japan's Masanobu Tsuji had defeated Ian Stewart's Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders; British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called the subsequent fall of Singapore four days later 'the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history'.
1953 - US President Dwight D. Eisenhower refused an appeal for clemency by Ethel and Julius Rosenberg; they would both be executed the following June 19th.
1963 - Julia Child's show The French Chef premiered.
1964 - The Beatles held their first concert in the United States at the Washington Coliseum in Washington, D.C.
1975 - Margaret Thatcher was chosen leader of the UK's Conservative Party.
2006 - US Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot his friend Harry Whittington in the face while the two were hunting quail together near Dallas; Whittington later apologized to Cheney, which for the professionally snarky was a punchline and a money shot in one.
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