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Today in History: January 23

Posted at 12:36 PM, Jan 23, 2021

Today is Saturday, Jan. 23, the 23rd day of 2021. There are 342 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Jan. 23, 2020, Chinese state media said the city of Wuhan would be shutting down outbound flights and trains, trying to halt the spread of a new virus that had sickened hundreds of people and killed at least 17. The World Health Organization said the viral illness in China was not yet a global health emergency, though the head of the U.N. health agency added that "it may yet become one."

On this date:

In 1812, the second New Madrid Earthquake struck, with an estimated magnitude of 7.5, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

In 1845, Congress decided all national elections would be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

In 1937, 17 people went on trial in Moscow during Josef Stalin's "Great Purge." (All were convicted of conspiracy; all but four were executed.)

In 1950, the Israeli Knesset approved a resolution affirming Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In 1962, Jackie Robinson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Tony Bennett recorded "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" in New York for Columbia Records.

In 1964, the 24th Amendment to the United States Constitution, eliminating the poll tax in federal elections, was ratified as South Dakota became the 38th state to endorse it.

In 1968, North Korea seized the U.S. Navy intelligence ship USS Pueblo, commanded by Lloyd "Pete" Bucher, charging its crew with being on a spying mission; one sailor was killed and 82 were taken prisoner. (Cmdr. Bucher and his crew were released the following December after enduring 11 months of brutal captivity at the hands of the North Koreans.)

In 1973, President Richard Nixon announced an accord had been reached to end the Vietnam War, and would be formally signed four days later in Paris.

In 1977, the TV mini-series "Roots," based on the Alex Haley novel, began airing on ABC.

In 1998, a judge in Fairfax, Virginia, sentenced Aimal Khan Kasi to death for an assault rifle attack outside CIA headquarters in 1993 that killed two men and wounded three other people. (Kasi was executed in November 2002.)

In 2002, John Walker Lindh, a U.S.-born Taliban fighter, was returned to the United States to face criminal charges that he'd conspired to kill fellow Americans. (Lindh was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to providing support for the Taliban; he was released in May, 2019, after serving more than 17 years.)

In 2009, President Barack Obama quietly ended the Bush administration's ban on giving federal money to international groups that performed abortions or provided information on the option. New York Gov. David Paterson chose Democratic Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to fill the Senate seat vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Ten years ago: Allies and adversaries of President Hugo Chavez took to the streets of Caracas by the thousands, staging rival demonstrations to commemorate the 53rd anniversary of Venezuela's democracy. Fitness guru Jack LaLanne died in Morro Bay, California, at age 96.

Five years ago: A blizzard with hurricane-force winds brought much of the East Coast to a standstill, dumping as much as 3 feet of snow, stranding tens of thousands of travelers and shutting down Washington D.C. and New York City. Gracie Gold bounced back from a shaky short program with a flawless free skate to win her second U.S. Figure Skating title at the championship in St. Paul, Minnesota.

One year ago: In a second day of opening arguments at President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, Democratic prosecutors made the case that Trump had abused power like no other president in history, swept up by a "completely bogus" theory about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. "Sopranos" actor Annabella Sciorra confronted Harvey Weinstein from the witness stand at his New York trial, testifying that Weinstein had overpowered and raped her; she was the first of Weinstein's accusers to testify at his sexual assault trial. PBS announced that Jim Lehrer, the longtime host of the nightly "NewsHour" and the moderator of 11 presidential debates, had died at the age of 85. Three American flying firefighters were killed when their C-130 Hercules tanker crashed after dumping fire retardant on an out-of-control blaze in southeastern Australia.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Chita Rivera is 88. Actor-director Lou Antonio is 87. Jazz musician Gary Burton is 78. Actor Gil Gerard is 78. Sen. Thomas R. Carper, D-Del., is 74. Singer Anita Pointer is 73. Actor Richard Dean Anderson is 71. Rock musician Bill Cunningham is 71. Rock singer Robin Zander (Cheap Trick) is 68. Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is 68. Princess Caroline of Monaco is 64. Singer Anita Baker is 63. Reggae musician Earl Falconer (UB40) is 62. Actor Peter Mackenzie is 60. Actor Boris McGiver is 59. Actor Gail O'Grady is 58. Actor Mariska Hargitay is 57. R&B singer Marc Nelson is 50. CBS Evening News anchor Norah O'Donnell is 47. Actor Tiffani Thiessen is 47. Rock musician Nick Harmer (Death Cab for Cutie) is 46. Actor Lindsey Kraft is 41. Singer-actor Rachel Crow is 23.

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