Way back when: Today in history
BY GENE CURTIS
Saturday, March 09, 2013
3/09/13 at 3:11 AM
1977 - Muslims take 130 hostages
A dozen Hanafi Muslims invaded three buildings in Washington, killed a radio reporter and held 130 hostages for two days. The leader of the group demanded and got cancellation of the premiere of the movie "Mohammad, Messenger of God" that another of the intruders said made a joke of his religion. The group invaded the headquarters of B'nai B'rith, the Islamic Center mosque and the District of Columbia building where the reporter was killed. After the film was ordered out of American theaters, people were ordered out when it was stopped while it was being shown. The invaders were charged with armed kidnapping.
1989 - Tower nomination rejected
The nomination of former Sen. John Tower of Texas for defense secretary was rejected 53-47 by the Senate in the first rejection of a cabinet nominee in 30 years. President George H.W. Bush said Tower should have received "the recompense of a grateful nation," but instead his "lot in past weeks has been a cruel ordeal." Tower's drinking habits played a role in his rejection although Bush said Tower had pledged to never touch another drop of liquor and that 25,000 Pentagon employees would provide a "fail-safe guarantee" that he would abide by his vow. The Senate later approved Rep. Dick Cheney of Wyoming as defense secretary. Cheney later served as President George W. Bush's vice president
1990 - Woman named surgeon general
Dr. Antonia Novello, a pediatrician and a native of Puerto Rico, was sworn in as surgeon general at a White House ceremony at which President George H.W. Bush said drug and alcohol abuse and AIDS were among the challenges facing her. "Because so many of these problems begin with our children, it is only right that we ask a pediatrician to help," he said. Novello, 44, said "The American dream is well and alive."
2011 - Death penalty abolished
The death penalty was abolished in Illinois when Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation against it and commuted the sentences of the 15 inmates remaining on death row to life in prison.
Dr. Antonia Novello (left) is sworn in as surgeon general by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (right) as Novello's husband, Dr. Joe Novello, and President George H.W. Bush watch. Associated Press file