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Today In History – April 02 – Florida Discovered





1513: Florida Discovered: Near present-day St. Augustine, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon comes ashore on the Florida coast, and claims the territory for the Spanish crown. Although other European navigators may have sighted the Florida peninsula before, Ponce de Leon is credited with the first recorded landing and the first detailed exploration of the Florida coast. The Spanish explorer was searching for the “Fountain of Youth,” a fabled water source that was said to bring eternal youth. Ponce de Leon named the peninsula he believed to be an island “La Florida” because his discovery came during the time of the Easter feast, or Pascua Florida. More here

1917: President Woodrow Wilson asks for declaration of war: On this day in 1917, President Woodrow Wilson asks Congress to send U.S. troops into battle against Germany in World War I. In his address to Congress that day, Wilson lamented it is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war. Four days later, Congress obliged and declared war on Germany. More here

1941: “The Desert Fox” recaptures Libya: On this day in 1941, German Lieutenant General Erwin Rommel, “the Desert Fox,” resumes his advance into Cyrenaica, modern-day Libya, signaling the beginning of what nine days later will become the recapture of Libya by the Axis forces. More here

1979: Anthrax poisoning kills 62 in Russia: The world’s first anthrax epidemic begins in Ekaterinburg, Russia (now Sverdlosk), on this day in 1979. By the time it ended six weeks later, 62 people were dead. Another 32 survived serious illness. Ekaterinburg, as the town was known in Soviet times, also suffered livestock losses from the epidemic.

As people in Ekaterinburg first began reporting their illnesses, the Soviet government announced that the cause was tainted meat that the victims had eaten. Since the town was known in intelligence circles for its biological-weapons plant, much of the rest of the world was immediately skeptical of the Soviet explanation.

It was not until 13 years later, in 1992, that the epidemic was finally explained: workers at the Ekaterinburg weapons plant failed to replace a crucial filter, causing a release of anthrax spores into the outside air. The wind carried the spores to a farming area and infected people and livestock in the area. Had the town been downwind from the plant at the time of the release, the death toll might have been considerably higher. More here

1980: President Jimmy Carter signs the Crude Oil Windfall Profits Tax Act in an effort to help the U.S. economy rebound: In 1980, the United States enacted the Crude Oil Windfall Profit Tax Act (P.L. 96-223) as part of a compromise between the Carter Administration and the Congress over the decontrol of crude oil prices. The Act was intended to recoup the revenue earned by oil producers as a result of the sharp increase in oil prices brought about by the OPEC oil embargo. According to the Congressional Research Service, the Act’s title was a misnomer. “Despite its name, the crude oil windfall profit tax… was not a tax on profits. It was an excise tax… imposed on the difference between the market price of oil, which was technically referred to as the removal price, and a statutory 1979 base price that was adjusted quarterly for inflation and state severance taxes.”

On August 23, 1988, amid low oil prices, the tax was repealed when President Ronald Reagan signed P.L. 100-418, The Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988. Reagan had objected to the tax during his 1980 presidential campaign and promised to repeal it. As with the enactment, Congress was motivated by several factors. More here

1982: Argentina invades Falklands: On April 2, 1982, Argentina invades the Falklands Islands, a British colony since 1892 and British possession since 1833. Argentine amphibious forces rapidly overcame the small garrison of British marines at the town of Stanley on East Falkland and the next day seized the dependent territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich group. The 1,800 Falkland Islanders, mostly English-speaking sheep farmers, awaited a British response. More here

2005: Pope John Paul II Dies: On this day in 2005, John Paul II, history’s most well-traveled pope and the first non-Italian to hold the position since the 16th century, dies at his home in the Vatican. Six days later, two million people packed Vatican City for his funeral, said to be the biggest funeral in history. More here

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