Feb. 7 (UPI) — On this date in history:
In 1497, the Bonfire of the Vanities in Florence, Italy, took place when followers of Girolamo Savonarola burned thousands of books, art and cosmetics.
In 1940, British railroads were nationalized.
In 1964, the Beatles arrived in the United States for the first time and immediately set off a frantic wave of “Beatlemania.”
In 1973, the U.S. Senate voted to set up a committee to investigate a break-in at the Democratic National Headquarters in Washington’s Watergate complex.
In 1979, Josef Mengele, the so-called Nazi “Angel of Death” who conducted medical experiments on victims of the Holocaust, died. His death — caused by a stroke while swimming in Brazil — wasn’t revealed until 1985.
In 1984, U.S. astronauts Bruce McCandless and Robert Stewart made the first untethered spacewalks. McCandless was the first to float freely in space, propelled by a nitrogen-powered “jetpack” after leaving the shuttle Challenger.
In 1990, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev issued a series of reforms and the Communist Party gave up its 70-year monopoly of political power in the Soviet Union.
In 1991, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was inaugurated as Haiti’s first democratically elected president in 186 years.
In 1995, the mastermind in the 1993 bombing of New York’s World Trade Center, Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, was arrested in Pakistan. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1998.
In 1999, King Hussein of Jordan died of cancer at age 63. Hussein ruled Jordan for 46 years. Crown Prince Abdullah succeeded his father as king.
In 2009, the most deadly series of brushfires in Australian history claimed more than 200 lives, destroyed almost 2,000 homes and burned at least 1.1 million acres in Victoria state.
In 2019, the Philippines declared a measles outbreak in the capital city of Manila after a 550 percent increase in the number of cases.