Leap Year: this day in the history of Feb. 29

We don’t mean to state the obvious, but Feb. 29 happens once every four years (usually) – and leap year is here again. That means a whole day's worth of news will tomorrow be added to this date's comparatively small archive. So today, take a look back at last decade's major headlines on this calendrical quirk.

1. Friday, Feb. 29, 2008

AP Photo/Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Joshua Trujillo
Boeing workers work on the Boeing 767 assembly line in June 2008 at Boeing's Everett assembly plant. Boeing scored a major victory that month in its battle to wrestle back a $35 billion Air Force contract from Northrop Grumman and its European partner.

• Two employees of the US Department of Agriculture were placed on paid leave of absence amid the agency’s investigation of the largest meat recall in US history. Some 143 million pounds of beef – roughly enough for two hamburgers for each man, woman, and child in the country – were recalled about two weeks prior after a California slaughterhouse was accused of slaughtering unhealthy cows. Although there were no reported illnesses or deaths from the contaminated meat, the beef was pulled from shelves because the slaughterhouse violated federal regulations.

• The British Ministry of Defense announced that Prince Harry, then 23, would have to come home from Afghanistan after details of his location were reported by the Drudge Report. Harry had been expected to remain in Helmand Province in Afghanistan with his home unit in the British Army for only a few more weeks, until, according to the Household Cavalry Regiment Battlegroup, “the situation ha[d] now clearly changed” and made it too risky for him to stay there.

Northrop Grumman, an aerospace company, and the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) won a $35 billion contract with the US Air Force to build a new refueling plane. The deal shut out Boeing, the Pentagon’s one-time sole supplier of aerial tankers. The Air Force said it planned to buy 179 tanker aircraft over the next 15 years to replace its KC-135 tankers. In a surprise twist, the Air Force said only months later that it would award the $35 billion to Boeing rather than Northrop Grumman and the EADS. 

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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