Today’s highlight in history
On March 15, 44 B.C.: Roman dictator Julius Caesar was assassinated by a group of nobles that included Brutus and Cassius.
On this date
In 1493: Italian explorer Christopher Columbus arrived back in the Spanish harbor of Palos de la Frontera, two months after concluding his first voyage to the Western Hemisphere.
In 1820: Maine became the 23rd state.
In 1917: Czar Nicholas II abdicated in favor of his brother, Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich, who declined the crown, marking the end of imperial rule in Russia.
In 1919: Members of the American Expeditionary Force from World War I convened in Paris for a three-day meeting to found the American Legion.
In 1944: During World War II, Allied bombers again raided German-held Monte Cassino.
In 1965: President Lyndon B. Johnson, addressing a joint session of Congress, called for new legislation to guarantee every American’s right to vote; the result was passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
In 1972: “The Godfather,” Francis Ford Coppola’s epic gangster movie based on the Mario Puzo novel and starring Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, premiered in New York.
In 1977: The situation comedy “Three’s Company,” starring John Ritter, Joyce DeWitt and Suzanne Somers, premiered on ABC-TV.
In 2005: Former WorldCom chief Bernard Ebbers was convicted in New York of engineering the largest corporate fraud in U.S. history. (He was later sentenced to 25 years in prison.)
In 2011: The Syrian civil war had its beginnings with Arab Spring protests across the region that turned into an armed insurgency and eventually became a full-blown conflict.
In 2019: A gunman killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, streaming the massacre live on Facebook. (Brenton Tarrant, an Australian white supremacist, was sentenced to life in prison without parole after pleading guilty to 51 counts of murder and other charges.)
In 2020: The Federal Reserve took massive emergency action to help the economy withstand the coronavirus by slashing its benchmark interest rate to near zero and saying it would buy $700 billion in treasury and mortgage bonds. After initially trying to keep schools open, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the nation’s largest public school system would close in hopes of curbing the spread of the coronavirus.
Ten years ago: The Pentagon announced it would spend $1 billion to add 14 interceptors to an Alaska-based missile defense system, responding to what it called faster-than-anticipated North Korean progress on nuclear weapons and missiles. The chief of Syria’s main, Western-backed rebel group marked the second anniversary of the start of the uprising against President Bashar Assad by pledging to fight until the “criminal” regime was gone. Canadian Patrick Chan won his third title at the World Figure Skating Championships in London, Ontario.
Five years ago: A pedestrian bridge that was under construction collapsed onto a busy Miami highway, crushing vehicles beneath massive slabs of concrete and steel; six people died and 10 were injured. The Trump administration accused Moscow of an elaborate plot to hack into America’s electric grid, factories, water supply and even air travel; the U.S. also targeted Russians with sanctions for alleged election meddling for the first time since President Donald Trump took office. Federal health officials took the first step to slash levels of addictive nicotine in cigarettes, a move designed to help smokers quit and prevent future generations from getting hooked. All seven service members aboard a U.S. helicopter were killed when the aircraft crashed in Iraq; officials said there were no indications that the crash had been caused by hostile fire.
One year ago: Russia stepped up its bombardment of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, while an estimated 20,000 civilians fled the desperately encircled port city of Mariupol by way of a humanitarian corridor. A man suspected of stalking and shooting homeless people asleep on the streets of New York City and Washington was arrested. The AP All-America college basketball team was announced, with first-team players Keegan Murray of Iowa, Kofi Cockburn of Illinois, Johnny Davis of Wisconsin, Oscar Tshiebwe of Kentucky and Ochai Agbaji of Kansas.