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On this date in 1983, astronaut Sally K. Ride, 32, became America's first woman in space as she and four colleagues blasted off aboard the space shuttle Challenger on a six-day mission.

Today in History - Wednesday, June 18

Today is Wednesday, June 18, the 169th day of 2014. There are 196 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On June 18, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson and Japanese Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda spoke to each other by telephone as they inaugurated the first trans-Pacific cable completed by AT&T between Japan and Hawaii, and linked to existing cables between Hawaii and California. (Due to the time difference, it was already June 19 in Tokyo.)

On this date:

In 1778, American forces entered Philadelphia as the British withdrew during the Revolutionary War.

In 1812, the War of 1812 began as the United States Congress approved, and President James Madison signed, a declaration of war against Britain.

In 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte met his Waterloo as British and Prussian troops defeated the French in Belgium.

In 1873, suffragist Susan B. Anthony was found guilty by a judge in Canandaigua, New York, of breaking the law by casting a vote in the 1872 presidential election. (The judge fined Anthony $100, but she never paid the penalty.)

In 1908, William Howard Taft was nominated for president by the Republican National Convention in Chicago.

In 1912, the Republican National Convention, which would nominate President William Howard Taft for another term of office, opened in Chicago.

In 1940, during World War II, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill urged his countrymen to conduct themselves in a manner that would prompt future generations to say, "This was their finest hour."

In 1953, a U.S. Air Force Douglas C-124 Globemaster II crashed near Tokyo, killing all 129 people on board. Egypt's 148-year-old Muhammad Ali Dynasty came to an end with the overthrow of the monarchy and the proclamation of a republic.

In 1972, 118 people were killed in the crash of a Brussels-bound British European Airways Hawker Siddeley Trident 1C shortly after takeoff from London Heathrow Airport.

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter and Soviet President Leonid I. Brezhnev signed the SALT II strategic arms limitation treaty in Vienna.

In 1983, astronaut Sally K. Ride, 32, became America's first woman in space as she and four colleagues blasted off aboard the space shuttle Challenger on a six-day mission.

In 1984, Alan Berg, a Denver radio talk show host, was shot to death outside his home. (Two white supremacists were later convicted of civil rights violations in the slaying.)

Ten years ago: An al-Qaida cell in Saudi Arabia beheaded American engineer Paul M. Johnson Jr., 49, posting grisly photographs of his severed head; hours later, Saudi security forces tracked down and killed the alleged mastermind of the kidnapping and murder. European Union leaders agreed on the first constitution for the bloc's 25 members.

Five years ago: Tens of thousands of protesters filled the streets of Tehran again, joining opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi (meer hoh-SAYN' moo-SAH'-vee) to mourn demonstrators killed in clashes over Iran's disputed presidential election. Hortensia Bussi, the widow of Chilean President Salvador Allende who helped lead opposition to the military dictatorship that ousted her husband, died at 94. Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin was named the NHL's most valuable player for the second straight year after leading the league with 56 goals.

One year ago: The Taliban and the U.S. said they would hold talks on finding a political solution to ending nearly 12 years of war in Afghanistan, as the international coalition formally handed over control of the country's security to the Afghan army and police. Declaring "the days of Rambo are over," Maj. Gen. Bennet Sacolick, director of force management for U.S. Special Operations Command, said that cultural, social and behavioral concerns might be bigger hurdles than tough physical fitness requirements for women looking to join the military's special operations units.

Today's Birthdays: Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., is 77. Baseball Hall of Famer Lou Brock is 75. Rock singer-composer-musician Sir Paul McCartney is 72. Actress Constance McCashin is 67. Actress Linda Thorson is 67. Rock musician John Evans (The Box Tops) is 66. Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., is 64. Actress Isabella Rossellini is 62. Actress Carol Kane is 62. Actor Brian Benben is 58. Actress Andrea Evans is 57. Rock singer Alison Moyet is 53. Rock musician Dizzy Reed (Guns N' Roses) is 51. Figure skater Kurt Browning is 48. Country singer-musician Tim Hunt is 47. Rock singer-musician Sice (The Boo Radleys) is 45. Rhythm-and-blues singer Nathan Morris (Boyz II Men) is 43. Actress Mara Hobel is 43. Singer-songwriter Ray LaMontagne is 41. Rapper Silkk the Shocker is 39. Actress Alana de la Garza is 38. Country singer Blake Shelton is 38. Rock musician Steven Chen (Airborne Toxic Event) is 36. Actor David Giuntoli is 34. Actress Renee Olstead is 25. Actress Willa Holland is 23.

Thought for Today: Today: "The way of a superior man is three-fold; virtuous, he is free from anxieties; wise, he is free from perplexities; bold, he is free from fear." — Confucius, Chinese philosopher (551-479 B.C.).

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