Today in History - February 29

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A year that is evenly divisible by 100 is not a leap year unless it also is evenly divisible by 400.
Explanation: The time required for Earth to make one lap around the sun -- to go from vernal equinox to vernal equinox -- is approximately 365.2422 days. Because the period of 365 days that our calendar assigns to the basic year falls approximately 0.2422 of a day short of the time it actually takes to orbit the sun, the calendar adds one day to every fourth year. This quadrennial "leap year" causes the average duration of a year to be approximately 365.2500 days. Because this quadrennial adjustment overshoots its goal by approximately 0.0078 of one day, the calendar "skips" the quadrennial adjustment at the turn of each century. This centennial "re-adjustment" causes the average duration of a year -- over the long run -- to be approximately 365.2400 days. Because this centennial readjustment overshoots its goal by approximately 0.0022 of one day, the calendar "un-skips" the centennial re-adjustment once every four centuries. This quadricentennial "re-re-adjustment" causes the average duration of a year -- over the very long run -- to be approximately 365.2425 days. All of this has the effect of reducing the difference between our calendar and our actual orbit around the sun to approximately 0.0003 of a day -- about 26 seconds.
 (SSFC, 2/29/04, p.A2)(Internet)

HISTORY OF LEAP YEAR: Roman Emperor Julius Caesar took the first stab at fixing the calendar when dates were no longer in sync with the seasons. First, he created one extra-long year – 445 days – to get things back on track. He followed that with a pattern of three 365-day years and one 366-day year – leap year. Fifteen centuries later, though, the calendar was off-kilter again. It turns out that Caesar’s plan created three extra leap years every 400 years. So in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII came up with a way to fix the problem. That year, the calendar jumped from October 4 to October 15. Gregory also set up a new rule to get rid of those three extra leap years. Under the Gregorian calendar, only century years divisible by 400 are leap years. One in 1,461 people are "Leapies," born on Leap Year Day. There are approximately 200,000 people in the United States with Leap Year Day birthdays and 4 million in the world. Leap year happens only in years in which January 1 and December 31 of the same year fall on different days of the week. The Henriksen family of Stavanger, Norway, has three siblings born on consecutive Leap Year Days – Heidi on February 29, 1960; Olav on February 29, 1964; and Leif-Martin on February 29, 1968.

45 BC        Feb 29, The first Leap Day was recognized by proclamation of Julius Caesar. Under the old Roman calendar the last day of February was the last day of the year.
    (HN, 2/29/00)

1288        Feb 29, Scotland made it legal for women to propose to men. The Scottish Parliament passed a Leap Year Act whereby women could propose to men. The tradition had begun in 5th century Ireland.
    (SFEC, 6/8/97, Z1 p.6)(SFC, 2/29/00, p.A1)

1468        Pope Paul III was born.
    (SFC, 2/29/00, p.A1)

1504        Feb 29, Christopher Columbus, stranded in Jamaica during his fourth voyage to the West, used a correctly predicted lunar eclipse to frighten hostile natives into providing food for his crew.
    (AP, 2/29/00)

1692        Feb 29, Sarah Goode and Tituba were accused of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, sparking the hysteria that started the Salem Witch Trials.
    (HN, 2/29/00)

1712        Feb 29, Marquis Louis Joseph de Montcalm, Commander of French Forces in North America during French and Indian War, was born. [see Feb 8]
    (HN, 2/29/00)

1736        Feb 29, Anna Lee, founder of the Shaker movement in America, was born.
    (HN, 2/29/00)

1784        Feb 29, Marquis de Sade was transferred from Vincennes fortress to the Bastille.
    (HN, 2/29/00)

1792        Feb 29, The composer Gioacchino Antonio Rossini (d.1868) was born in Pesaro, Italy. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gioachino_Rossini)

1796        Feb 29, President Washington proclaimed Jay's Treaty in effect; it settled some outstanding differences with Great Britain.
    (AP, 2/29/00)

1841        Feb 29, John Philip Holland (b.1840), inventor of the modern submarine, was born in Liscannor, County Clare, into a family that had survived the Great Potato Famine. Following his immigration to America in 1873, Holland settled in Paterson, New Jersey where he taught school and, with financial backing from the Irish Fenian Society, began developing his first submarine. In 1881, Holland launched the Fenian Ram, a 31-foot-long submersible powered by a 15-horsepower internal combustion engine. With Holland at the controls, the Ram dived 64 feet beneath New York Harbor that summer, only to be seized by the Fenians when they lost interest in the project. In 1895, the J.P. Holland Torpedo Boat Company, won a contract from the U.S. Navy to build a submarine. After one discouraging failure, the second submarine, the Holland VI, passed her sea trials and was purchased by the U.S. Navy on April 11, 1900 for $150,000. [see Feb 24]
    (HN, 2/29/00)

1856        Feb 29, Hostilities in Russo-Turkish war ceased.
    (HN, 2/29/00)

1860        Feb 29, Herman Hollerith, inventor of a tabulation mechanism (1864) that was a forerunner to the computer, was born.
    (HN, 2/29/00)(WSJ, 3/21/00, p.A20)
1860        Feb 29, George Bridgetower (b.1778), African-Polish violinist, died. He was born in Biała, Poland, where his father worked for Hieronimus Wincenty Radziwill. Bridgetower lived in England for much of his life.
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Bridgetower)

1864        Feb 29, Union Brig. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick split his forces at the Rapidan River ordering Col. Ulric Dahlgren to lead 500 men his men to Goochland Court House, while the remainder followed Kilpatrick in his raid on Richmond.
    (HN, 2/29/00)
1864        Feb 29, Lt. William B. Cushing led a landing party from the USS Monticello to Smithville, NC, in an attempt to capture Confederate Brig. Gen. Louis Hebert, only to discover that Hebert and his men had already moved on Wilmington.
    (HN, 2/29/00)

1868        Feb 29, British Prime Minister Benjamin Disreali formed his first cabinet.
    (HN, 2/29/00)

1896        Feb 29, A person born on this day would have celebrated their first birthday in 1904. The year 1896 was a leap year, thus February had 29 days. The next leap year was not until 1904. Leap years, which have 366 days instead of the common 365, are those years divisible by four, except centesimal (those ending in 00) years unless they are divisible by 400. Therefore, three of every four centesimal years are common years, including 1900.
    (HN, 2/29/00)

1904        Feb 29, Jimmy Dorsey (d.1957), orchestra leader, was born in Shenandoah, Pa.
    (HN, 2/29/00)(AP, 2/29/04)
1904        Feb 29, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed a seven-member commission to hasten completion of the Panama Canal.
    (AP, 2/29/00)

1908        Feb 29, The artist known as Balthus was born in Paris.
    (AP, 2/29/08)

1913        Feb 29, A US judge upheld a Wright Brothers’ airplane patent regarding the use of ailerons in a suit against Glenn Curtiss. In 1914 a Court of Appeals affirmed the decision. Henry Ford offered assistance to Curtiss and Ford lawyer W. Benton Crisp put Curtiss back in production by employing non-simultaneous use of ailerons.
    (ON, 12/11, p.12)

1916        Feb 29, Dinah Shore, actress and singer, was born. [see Mar 1, 1917]
    (SFC, 2/29/00, p.A1)

1924        Feb 29, Al Rosen, baseball player, was born.
    (SFC, 2/29/00, p.A1)

1933        Mar 29, The front page of the New York Evening Post said "Famine Grips Russia — Millions Dying." The report was by Welsh journalist Gareth Jones who had recently sneaked into Ukraine, at the height of a famine engineered by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. Jones was killed by bandits in 1935 while covering Japan's expansion into China. In 2009 the diaries of Jones were put on display for the first time in London.
    (AP, 11/13/09)

1936        Feb 29, Jack R. Lousma, astronaut, was born.
    (HN, 2/29/00)
1936        Feb 29, Abraham Ruef (71), San Francisco power broker, died. He had served time at San Quentin prison following graft prosecutions in 1906-1908.
    (SSFC, 2/27/11, DB p.46)

1940        Feb 29, Hattie McDaniel was the first African American to win an Academy Award--best supporting actress--for her performance in Gone With The Wind, which won a total of 8 Oscars.
    (HN, 2/29/00)
1940        Feb 29, "Gone with the Wind" won eight Academy Awards, including best picture of 1939. Victor Fleming was named best director, Vivien Leigh best actress, and Hattie McDaniel best supporting actress, the first black performer to receive an Oscar. Best actor went to Robert Donat for "Goodbye, Mr. Chips."
    (HN, 2/29/00)(AP, 2/29/04)

1944        Feb 29, Dorothy Vredenburgh accepted an appointment by the Democratic National Committee becoming the first woman secretary of a national political party in the U.S.
    (HN, 2/29/00)
1944        Feb 29, US forces caught Japanese troops off-guard and easily took control of the Admiralty Islands in Papua New Guinea.
    (HN, 2/29/00)

1952        Feb 29, The first pedestrian "Walk/Don't Walk" signs were installed at 44th Street and Broadway at Times Square.
    (HN, 2/29/00)

1956        Feb 29, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced he would seek a second term.
    (AP, 2/29/00)(HN, 2/29/00)   

1960        Feb 29, the first Playboy Club, featuring waitresses clad in "bunny" outfits, opened in Chicago. Hugh Hefner closed the corporate-owned clubs in 1986, calling them "passe."
    (AP, 2/29/00)
1960        Feb 29, An 5.7 earthquake in Morocco's southwest Atlantic coast killed as many as 12,000. The town of Agadir destroyed.
    (AP, 2/25/04)

1964        Feb 29, President Lyndon B. Johnson revealed that the U.S. secretly developed the Lockheed A-11 jet fighter.
    (HN, 2/29/00)

1968        Feb 29, At the Grammy Awards, the Fifth Dimension's "Up, Up and Away" won record of the year for 1967, while album of the year honors went to the Beatles for "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."
    (HN, 2/29/00)(AP, 2/29/04)
1968        Feb 29, President Johnson's National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (also known as the Kerner Commission) warned that racism was causing America to move "toward two societies, one black, one white -- separate and unequal."
    (AP, 2/29/00)
1968        Feb 29, Robert McNamara resigned as US Secretary of Defense as a result of the Tet disaster. He was succeeded by Clark Clifford for 9 months who worked to reverse US policy in Vietnam.
    (WUD, 1994, p.1687)(SFEC, 10/11/98, p.A2)
1968        Feb 29, The discovery of the first "pulsar," a star which emits regular radio waves, was announced by Dr. Jocelyn Bell Burnell at Cambridge, England.
    (AP, 2/29/00)(HN, 2/29/00)

1972        Feb 29, Henry "Hank" Aaron became the first baseball player to sign a baseball contract for $200,000 a year.
    (HN, 2/29/00)

1980        Feb 29, Pres. Carter signed a law that renamed the Arctic National Wildlife Range to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and more than doubled its size. The law directed the Interior Dept. to assess oil potential in 1.5 million acres of the coastal plain. A ban was put on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In 2002 Pres. Bush pushed to overturn the ban. Estimates on oil there ranged from 3.2 to at least 5.7 billion barrels.
    (SSFC, 2/24/02, p.A9)(SSFC, 8/28/05, p.A13)(http://tinyurl.com/2udcgx)
1980        Feb 29, former Israeli foreign minister Yigal Allon, who had played an important role in the Jewish state's fight for independence, died at age 61.
    (AP, 2/29/00)

1984        Feb 29, Liberace's palimony suit was thrown out of court.
    (SFC, 2/29/00, p.A1)(www.bobsliberace.com/decades/1980s/1980s.html)
1984        Feb 29, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau announced he was stepping down after more than 15 years in power.
    (AP, 2/29/00)
1984        Feb 29-1984 Mar 1, In one of the largest battles of the Iran-Iraq war, the two armies clashed and inflicted more than 25,000 fatalities on each other.
    (www.iranchamber.com/history/iran_iraq_war/iran_iraq_war2.php)
1984        Feb 29, In Switzerland a court ruled that the villagers of Zermatt owned the Matterhorn.
    (SFC, 2/29/00, p.A1)

1988        Feb 29, A Nazi document was discovered that implicated participation of Austrian president and former U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim in WWII deportations.
    (HN, 2/29/00)
1988        Feb 29, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other religious leaders were arrested while kneeling near Parliament with a petition against government bans on anti-apartheid groups. All were freed hours later.
    (AP, 2/29/00)

1992        Feb 29, Muslims and Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina began casting ballots in an independence referendum; Serbs boycotted the vote, calling it illegal.
    (AP, 2/29/00)

1996        Feb 29, About 30 television and entertainment industry executives met with President Clinton at the White House, where they promised to devise a TV ratings system.
    (AP, 2/29/00)
1996        Feb 29, Daniel Green was convicted in Lumberton, N.C., of murdering James R. Jordan, the father of basketball star Michael Jordan, during a 1993 roadside holdup. Green was sentenced to life in prison; an accomplice who had testified against him, Larry Demery, is also serving a life sentence.
    (AP, 2/29/00)
1996        Feb 29, A Peruvian commercial jetliner crashed in the Andes, killing all 123 people on board.
    (AP, 2/29/00)

2000        Feb 29, George W. Bush beat John McCain in Virginia, Washington and North Dakota primaries. Al Gore beat Bill Bradley in Washington.
    (SFC, 3/1/00, p.A1)
2000        Feb 29, Sparky Anderson was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame along with Turkey Stearnes of the Negro leagues and 19th-century second baseman Bid McPhee.
    (AP, 2/29/04)
2000        Feb 29, Doris Haddock (90), known as "Granny D." completed a 3,200 mile trek to Washington from California to urge Congress to enact reforms.
    (SFC, 2/29/00, p.A3)
2000        Feb 29, In Michigan a 6-year-old boy shot and killed Kayla Rolland (6) with a .32 caliber semiautomatic after a quarrel in the Theo J. Buell Elementary School in Flint. Jamelle James (19), the owner of the stolen gun, was later arraigned on a manslaughter charge.
    (SFC, 3/1/00, p.A1)
2000        Feb 29, The Algerian army began a crack down on Islamic militants following the massacre of 25 shepherds near Brezina. Over the next 3 weeks they killed 35 militants around El-Bayadh and Ghardaia.
    (SFC, 3/22/00, p.A12)
2000        Feb 29, In Chechnya 84 Russian paratroopers were killed after rebels attacked a guard post near Ulus Kert. Most of the soldiers were from Pskov. Many were suspected to have died from Russian artillery called in after the position was overrun.
    (SFC, 3/11/00, p.A12)
2000        Feb 29, In India the government announced a 28.2% increase in military spending, tax increase on higher income people and cuts in government payroll.
    (SFC, 3/1/00, p.A13)
2000        Feb 29, Israel released the 1961 prison memoir of Adolph Eichmann.
    (SFC, 3/1/00, p.A12)
2000        Feb 29, In Nigeria the government made an agreement with northern leaders to stop enforcing Shariah where it was in effect and to not adopt it in other regions for the time being due to recent clashes.
    (SFC, 3/1/00, p.A14)
2000        Feb 29, In Zimbabwe former guerrillas invaded white-owned farms and occupied at least 36 with no official interference.
    (SFC, 3/1/00, p.A14)

2004        Feb 29, In the Academy Awards "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" won a record-tying 11 awards, taking best picture and sweeping each of its categories. Sean Penn took the best-actor prize as a vengeful father in "Mystic River," and Charlize Theron won for best actress as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in "Monster." Supporting-performance Oscars went to Tim Robbins as a man emotionally hamstrung by childhood trauma in "Mystic River" and Renee Zellweger as a hardy Confederate survivor in "Cold Mountain."
    (AP, 3/1/04)
2004        Feb 29, Jerome Lawrence (88), playwright, died. His 39 plays included “Auntie Mame.”
    (SFC, 12/28/04, p.D1)
2004        Feb 29, In central China a bus carrying migrant workers to faraway factory jobs plunged off a mountain road, killing 12 and injuring 35.
    (AP, 2/29/04)
2004        Feb 29, In Germany Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's party was handed a stinging defeat by voters in Hamburg in elections reflecting the pent-up anger over his push to cut cherished state benefits.
    (AP, 2/29/04)
2004        Feb 29, Haiti's Pres. Jean-Bertrand Aristide resigned and flew into exile. The capital fell into chaos, and the US said international peacekeepers, including Americans, would be deployed soon. Boniface Alexandre, the Supreme Court Justice, took over as interim president. PM Yvon Neptune continued as head of the government. Guy Philippe (36), head of a band of former exiled soldiers, said his forces would stop fighting.
    (AP, 2/29/04)(ST, 3/2/04, p.A3)
2004        Feb 29, Israel's Supreme Court ordered the government to suspend work for one week on a section of the West Bank security barrier, an attorney said, while security forces arrested three Palestinian youths who planned an attack.
    (AP, 2/29/04)
2004        Feb 29, Japan's agriculture minister slammed a senior poultry industry executive for failing to report the deaths of tens of thousands of chickens on his farm, where officials have confirmed the country's third outbreak of bird flu.
    (AP, 2/29/04)
2004        Feb 29, Spain averted a bombing by the Basque separatist group ETA after the Civil Guard stopped a small truck and found about 1,100 pounds of bomb-making chemicals.
    (AP, 2/29/04)

2008        Feb 29, US Defense Department officials announced that they had formally agreed to implement the long-discussed Defense Telephone Link (DTL) with China. The US and China established a hotline between their defense ministries.
    (www.armscontrol.org/act/2008_04/Hotline)(Econ, 10/24/09, SR p.9)
2008        Feb 29, The Ninth US circuit Court of appeals ruled that the US Navy must protect endangered whales from the potentially lethal effects of underwater sonar during anti-submarine training off the Southern California coast, rejecting Pres. Bush’s attempt to exempt the exercises from environmental laws.
    (SSFC, 3/2/08, p.A2)
2008        Feb 29, A divided Virginia Supreme Court affirmed the nation's first felony conviction for illegal spamming, ruling that Virginia's anti-spamming law does not violate free-speech rights.
    (AP, 2/29/08)
2008        Feb 29, At the annual TED conference in Monterey, Ca., writer Dave Eggers, cosmologist Neil Turok and religious scholar Karen Armstrong received awards and then made wishes to the TED community. Eggers wished that community members engage a local school and seek transformative change.
    (SFC, 3/1/08, p.C1)
2008        Feb 29, In southern Afghanistan Taliban militants blew up a telecommunications tower following a warning to phone companies to shut down the towers at night or face attack.
    (AP, 2/29/08)
2008        Feb 29, Algerian security forces chased some 30 Islamic insurgents planting roadside bombs back into their refuge east of the Algiers.
    (AP, 3/2/08)
2008        Feb 29, In Belgium lawyers said Belgian writer Misha Defonseca (71) has admitted that she made up her best-selling memoir, "Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years," depicting how, as a Jewish child, she lived with a pack of wolves in the woods during the Holocaust.
    (AP, 2/29/08)
2008        Feb 29, In Brazil police killed six alleged drug gang members in Rio de Janeiro, while a bodyguard for the state security chief was shot dead what appeared to be an attempted robbery.
    (AP, 2/29/08)
2008        Feb 29, The British military decided to pull Prince Harry out of Afghanistan "immediately" after news of his deployment leaked out in foreign media.
    (AP, 2/29/08)
2008        Feb 29, China agreed to release sensitive records about missing US soldiers and establish a hot line to the Pentagon.
    (AP, 2/29/08)
2008        Feb 29, France and energy-hungry South Africa signed three economic accords, including one for the construction of a 1.36-billion euro coal-fuelled power plant by French energy giant Alstom.
    (AP, 2/29/08)
2008        Feb 29, In Ghana 9 Nigerians were sentenced to 5 years each for faking e-mails and letters, including one from the Ghanaian president, to dupe a Frenchman out of $185,000.
    (AFP, 3/10/08)
2008        Feb 29, In Guatemala an overcrowded bus plunged off a highway and rolled into a gully, killing 45 people and injuring 20 more.
    (AP, 3/1/08)
2008        Feb 29, In Iraq gunmen killed 3 people and abducted Chaldean Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho (65) soon after he left Mass in Mosul, the latest in what church members called a series of attacks against Iraq's small Christian community. A British serviceman was killed in a rocket attack in southern Iraq, taking the Britain’s death toll since the start of the conflict to 175.
    (AP, 3/1/08)(AFP, 3/1/08)
2008        Feb 29, Italy’s Eni SpA signed a major oil production agreement with Venezuela. Last month Eni said it had reached a compensation deal in which Venezuela agreed to a payment in excess of $700 million.
    (WSJ, 3/1/08, p.A5)
2008        Feb 29, Hundreds of Serb police in Kosovo vowed not to follow the orders of the Albanian-dominated force after the territory split from Serbia.
    (AP, 2/29/08)
2008        Feb 29, Hezbollah denounced the deployment of US warships off Lebanon and said it won't be intimidated. The US-backed Lebanese government distanced itself from the military move.
    (AP, 2/29/08)
2008        Feb 29, In Pakistan a suicide bomber killed at least 44 people and injured up to 90 in Peshawar. In the Swat Valley a police officer was killed in the northwestern Lakki Marwat district in a bomb blast along with three others. Later in the day during funeral ceremonies a suicide bomber rammed his car into a security vehicle, killing a civilian, a security official and injuring 21 others.
    (AFP, 3/1/08)
2008        Feb 29, Peruvian officials arrested seven members from the Coordinadora Continental Bolivariana, a Venezuela-based leftist movement, including the group's alleged leader, Roque Gonzalez, who spent eight years in prison for kidnapping a Bolivian politician. Two more alleged members were arrested on March 17 trying to carry in $65,000 from Ecuador, money Peruvian authorities suspect is Venezuelan. Coordinadora founder Fernando Rivero told The Associated Press in Venezuela that the group is entirely autonomous.
    (AP, 3/22/08)
2008        Feb 29, Two former Philippine presidents, once bitter foes, joined tens of thousands of protesters at a rally to press for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's resignation over a raging corruption scandal.
    (AP, 2/29/08)
2008        Feb 29, In Sri Lanka a suspected Tamil Tiger suicide bomber blew himself up injuring 7 people as police tried to search his house in the heavily-guarded Sri Lankan capital. In a massive search carried out shortly afterwards, police recovered six powerful Claymore mines, the type commonly used by Tamil Tiger rebels, from a house in the same area of Colombo.
    (AFP, 2/29/08)
2008        Feb 29, Turkey's military said it has ended a ground offensive against Kurdish rebels in Iraq, but said that foreign influence did not play a role in its decision.
    (AP, 2/29/08)
2008        Feb 29, The UN refugee agency said that 3,000 refugees from Darfur have arrived in Chad in the last week, bringing the total number to over 13,000 in February alone.
    (AFP, 2/29/08)

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