Today in History

Today is Saturday, June 27, the 178th day of 2015. There are 187 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On June 27, 1955, Illinois enacted the nation's first automobile seat belt law. (The law did not require cars to have seat belts, but that they be made seat belt-ready.)

On this date:

In 1787, English historian Edward Gibbon completed work on his six-volume work, "The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire."

In 1844, Mormon leader Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, were killed by a mob in Carthage, Illinois.

In 1864, Confederate forces repelled a frontal assault by Union troops in the Civil War Battle of Kennesaw Mountain in Georgia.

In 1905, the Industrial Workers of the World was founded in Chicago.

In 1922, the first Newberry Medal, recognizing excellence in children's literature, was awarded to "The Story of Mankind" by Hendrik Willem van Loon.

In 1944, during World War II, American forces liberated the French port of Cherbourg from the Germans.

In 1957, more than 500 people were killed when Hurricane Audrey slammed through coastal Louisiana and Texas.

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy spent the first full day of a visit to Ireland, the land of his ancestors, stopping by the County Wexford home of his great-grandfather, Patrick Kennedy, who'd emigrated to America in 1848.

In 1974, President Richard Nixon opened an official visit to the Soviet Union.

In 1985, the legendary Route 66, which originally stretched from Chicago to Santa Monica, California, passed into history as officials decertified the road.

In 1990, NASA announced that a flaw in the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope was preventing the instrument from achieving optimum focus. (The problem was traced to a mirror that had not been ground to exact specifications; corrective optics were later installed to fix the problem.)

In 1995, Jodi Huisentruit, 27, an anchorwoman for KIMT-TV in Mason City, Iowa, mysteriously disappeared; her fate has never been determined.

Ten years ago: The Supreme Court ruled, in a pair of 5-4 decisions, that displaying the Ten Commandments on government property was constitutionally permissible in some cases but not in others. BTK serial killer Dennis Rader pleaded guilty to ten murders that had spread fear across Wichita, Kansas, beginning in the 1970s. (Rader later received multiple life sentences.) Wal-Mart heir John Walton died in a plane crash near the Jackson Hole Airport in Wyoming; he was 58. Civil War historian Shelby Foote died in Memphis, Tennessee, at age 88.

Five years ago: Wary of slamming on the stimulus brakes too quickly but shaken by the European debt crisis, world leaders meeting in Canada pledged to reduce government deficits in richer countries in half by 2013, with wiggle room to meet the goal. Pope Benedict XVI lashed out at what he called "deplorable" raids carried out by Belgian police as part of an investigation into priest sex abuse. Cristie Kerr cruised to a 12-stroke victory in the LPGA Championship, closing with a 6-under 66 for a 19-under 269 total.

One year ago: Over Russian objections, Ukraine's new president, Petro Poroshenko, signed a free-trade agreement binding his country more closely to Western Europe. Leslie Manigat, 83, a prominent figure in the Haitian political establishment whose rule as president was cut short by a military coup in 1988, died in Port-au-Prince. Bobby Womack, 70, a colorful and highly influential R&B singer-songwriter who had influenced artists from the Rolling Stones to Damon Albarn, died in Los Angeles.

Today's Birthdays: Business executive Ross Perot is 85. Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt is 77. Singer-musician Bruce Johnston (The Beach Boys) is 73. Fashion designer Vera Wang is 66. Actress Julia Duffy is 64. Actress Isabelle Adjani is 60. Country singer Lorrie Morgan is 56. Actor Brian Drillinger is 55. Writer-producer-director J.J. Abrams is 49. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., is 47. Olympic gold and bronze medal figure skater Viktor Petrenko is 46. Actor Edward "Grapevine" Fordham Jr. is 45. TV personality Jo Frost is 45. Actor Yancey Arias is 44. Actor Christian Kane is 41. Actor Tobey Maguire is 40. Rock singer Bernhoft is 39. Gospel singer Leigh Nash is 39. Musician Chris Eldridge (Punch Brothers) is 33. Reality TV star Khloe Kardashian (kar-DASH'-ee-uhn) is 31. Actor Drake Bell is 29. Actor Sam Claflin (Film: "The Hunger Games") is 29. Actor Ed Westwick is 28. Actress Madylin Sweeten is 24. Pop singer Lauren Jauregui (Fifth Harmony) (TV: "The X Factor") is 19. Actor Chandler Riggs is 16.

Thought for Today: "The main dangers in this life are the people who want to change everything — or nothing." — Viscountess Nancy Astor, American-born British politician (1879-1964).

(Above Advance for Use Saturday, June 27)

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