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This day in history

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► Today is Wednesday, Feb. 8, the 39th day of 2012. There are 327 days left in the year. ► Today’s birthdays: Composer-conductor John Williams is 80. Newscaster Ted Koppel is 72. Actor Nick Nolte is 71. Comedian Robert Klein is 70. Actor-rock musician Creed Bratton is 69. Singer Ron Tyson is 64. Actress Brooke Adams is 63. Actress Mary Steenburgen is 59. Author John Grisham is 57. Actor Henry Czerny is 53. Rock singer Vince Neil (Motley Crue) is 51. Rock singer-musician Sammy Llanas (the BoDeans) is 51. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa P. Jackson is 50. Actress Mary McCormack is 43. Rock musician Keith Nelson (Buckcherry) is 43. Retired NBA player Alonzo Mourning is 42. Actor Seth Green is 38. Actor Josh Morrow is 38. Rock musician Phoenix (Linkin Park) is 35. Rock musician Jeremy Davis (Paramore) is 27. Rock musician Max Grahn (Carolina Liar) is 24. Actor Ryan Pinkston is 24. Actress Karle Warren (“Judging Amy’’) is 20.

►In 1587, Mary, Queen of Scots was beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle in England after she was implicated in a plot to murder her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I.

► In 1693, a charter was granted for the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg in the Virginia Colony. ► In 1837, the Senate selected the vice president of the United States, choosing Richard Mentor Johnson after no candidate received a majority of electoral votes. ► In 1862, the Civil War Battle of Roanoke Island, N.C., ended in victory for Union forces led by General Ambrose E. Burnside. ► In 1904, the Russo-Japanese War, a conflict over control of Manchuria and Korea, began as Japanese forces attacked Port Arthur. ► In 1910, the Boy Scouts of America was incorporated. ► In 1922, President Warren G. Harding had a radio installed in the White House. ► In 1942, during World War II, Japanese forces began invading Singapore, which fell a week later. ► In 1952, Queen Elizabeth II proclaimed her accession to the British throne following the death of her father, King George VI. ► In 1971, NASDAQ, the world’s first electronic stock exchange, held its first trading day. ► In 1989, 144 people were killed when an American-chartered Boeing 707 filled with Italian tourists slammed into a fog-covered mountain in the Azores. ► In 1992, the XVI Olympic Winter Games opened in Albertville, France. ► In 2002, the Winter Olympics opened in Salt Lake City with an emotional tribute to America’s heroes, from the pioneers of the West to past Olympic champions to the thousands who perished on Sept. 11. The Taliban’s foreign minister (Mullah Abdul Wakil Muttawakil) turned himself in to authorities in Afghanistan. William T. Dillard Sr., founder of one of the nation’s largest retail chains, died in Little Rock, Ark., at 87. ► In 2007, model, actress, and tabloid sensation Anna Nicole Smith died in Florida at 39 of an accidental drug overdose. A federal judge in Fargo, N.D., sentenced Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. to death for the slaying of college student Dru Sjodin. Rival Palestinian leaders signed an agreement on a power-sharing government at Saudi-brokered talks in Mecca.

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