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Today in History for Jan. 26, 2013

Today is Saturday, Jan. 26, the 26th day of 2013. There are 339 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight:

On Jan. 26, 1788, the first European settlers in Australia, led by Capt. Arthur Phillip, landed in present-day Sydney.

On this date:

In 1784, in a letter to his daughter Sally, Benjamin Franklin expressed unhappiness over the choice of the eagle as the symbol of America, and stated his own preference: the turkey.

In 1837, Michigan became the 26th state.

In 1870, Virginia rejoined the Union.

In 1939, during the Spanish Civil War, rebel forces led by Gen. Francisco Franco captured Barcelona.

In 1942, the first American Expeditionary Force to go to Europe during World War II arrived in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

In 1950, India officially proclaimed itself a republic as Rajendra Prasad took the oath of office as president.

In 1962, the United States launched Ranger 3 to land scientific instruments on the moon – but the probe ended up missing its target by more than 22,000 miles. Charles “Lucky” Luciano, a leading Mafia figure in the U.S., died in Naples, Italy, at age 64.

In 1973, actor Edward G. Robinson died in Los Angeles at age 79.

In 1979, former Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller died in New York at age 70.

In 1988, Australians celebrated the 200th anniversary of their country as a grand parade of tall ships re-enacted the voyage of the first European settlers. The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical “Phantom of the Opera” opened at Broadway’s Majestic Theater.

In 1993, Vaclav Havel was elected president of the newly formed Czech Republic.

In 1998, President Bill Clinton forcefully denied having an affair with a former White House intern, telling reporters, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”

Ten years ago: Secretary of State Colin Powell, citing Iraq’s lack of cooperation with U.N. inspectors, said he’d lost faith in the inspectors’ ability to conduct a definitive search for banned weapons programs. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won their first NFL championship, routing the Oakland Raiders 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVII (37). Andre Agassi beat Germany’s Rainer Schuettler 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 in the Australian Open final.

Five years ago: Barack Obama routed Hillary Rodham Clinton in the South Carolina primary. Maria Sharapova won the Australian Open, beating Ana Ivanovic 7-5, 6-3 for her third Grand Slam singles title. Mirai Nagasu, at 14, became the second-youngest female (after Tara Lipinski) to win the title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships held in St. Paul, Minn. Christian Brando, the troubled eldest son of the late actor Marlon Brando, died in Los Angeles at age 49. Radical PLO leader George Habash died in Amman, Jordan, at age 81.

One year ago: The Pentagon outlined a plan for slowing the growth of military spending, including cutting the size of the Army and Marine Corps, retiring older planes and trimming war costs. An aggressive Mitt Romney repeatedly challenged Republican rival Newt Gingrich in their final debate before the critical Florida primary. Capping three days of mourning, some 12,000 people – including Penn State students, fans and football stars – paid tribute to the late Joe Paterno in a campus memorial service that exposed a strong undercurrent of anger over his firing. Actor Robert Hegyes, 60, died in Edison, N.J.

Today’s birthdays: Actress Anne Jeffreys is 90. Actress Joan Leslie is 88. Cartoonist Jules Feiffer is 84. Sportscaster-actor Bob Uecker is 78. Actor Scott Glenn is 74. Singer Jean Knight is 70. Activist Angela Davis is 69. Rock musician Corky Laing (Mountain) is 65. Actor David Strathairn is 64. Alt-country singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams is 60. Rock singer-musician Eddie Van Halen is 58. Reggae musician Norman Hassan (UB40) is 55. Actress-comedian-talk show host Ellen DeGeneres is 55. Hockey Hall-of-Famer Wayne Gretzky is 52. Musician Andrew Ridgeley is 50. Rhythm-and-blues singer Jazzie B. (Soul II Soul) is 50. Actor Paul Johansson is 49. Gospel singer Kirk Franklin is 43. Actress Jennifer Crystal is 40. Rock musician Chris Hesse (Hoobastank) is 39. Actor Gilles Marini is 37. NBA player Vince Carter is 36. Actress Sarah Rue is 35. Country musician Michael Martin (Marshall Dyllon) is 30.

Thought for today: “Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one’s thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German poet, dramatist and author (1749-1832).

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