Wednesday, December 24, 2008

This Date in History - 24 December: The Ace of Spades Is 63

The Associated Press – Wed Dec 24, 12:01 am ET Today is Wednesday, Dec. 24, the 359th day of 2008. There are seven days left in the year. This is Christmas Eve. Today's Highlight in History: Forty years ago, in 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts, orbiting the moon, read passages from the Old Testament Book of Genesis during a Christmas Eve telecast that featured live images of Earth. On this date: In 1524, Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama — who had discovered a sea route around Africa to India — died in Cochin, India. In 1814, the War of 1812 officially ended as the United States and Britain signed the Treaty of Ghent in Belgium. In 1851, fire devastated the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., destroying about 35,000 volumes. In 1865, several veterans of the Confederate Army formed a private social club in Pulaski, Tenn., called the Ku Klux Klan. In 1871, Giuseppe Verdi's opera "Aida" had its world premiere in Cairo, Egypt. In 1908, citing morality concerns, New York Mayor George B. McClellan Jr. temporarily closed the city's movie theaters. (The action gave rise to creation of a motion picture censorship board.) In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower supreme commander of Allied forces as part of Operation Overlord. In 1951, Gian Carlo Menotti's "Amahl and the Night Visitors," the first opera written specifically for television, was first broadcast by NBC-TV. In 1980, Americans remembered the U.S. hostages in Iran by burning candles or shining lights for 417 seconds — one second for each day of captivity. In 1993, the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, who blended Christian and psychiatric principles into a message of "positive thinking," died in Pawling, N.Y., at age 95. Ten years ago: Ignoring NATO warnings, Serb tanks and troops struck an ethnic Albanian stronghold in Kosovo. Most of California's citrus crop was considered ruined after three straight nights of freezing cold. Five years ago: A roadside bomb exploded north of Baghdad, killing three U.S. soldiers in the deadliest attack on Americans to that time following Saddam Hussein's capture. Talk show host David Letterman visited U.S. troops in Baghdad. Air France canceled several flights to the United States after U.S. officials passed on what were termed "credible" security threats. One year ago: President Bush made Christmas Eve calls to 10 U.S. troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and other spots around the world, thanking them for their sacrifice and wishing them a happy holiday. French news cameraman Gwen Le Gouil, abducted by Somali gunmen Dec. 16 outside the town of Bossaso, was released. Today's Birthdays: Songwriter-bandleader Dave Bartholomew is 88. Author Mary Higgins Clark is 81. Federal health administrator Anthony S. Fauci is 68. Recording company executive Mike Curb is 64. Rock singer-musician Lemmy (Motorhead) is 63.Actor Grand L. Bush is 53. Actor Clarence Gilyard is 53. Actress Stephanie Hodge is 52. The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, is 51. Rock musician Ian Burden (The Human League) is 51. Designer Kate Spade is 46. Rock singer Mary Ramsey (10,000 Maniacs) is 45. Actor Mark Valley is 44. Actor Diedrich Bader is 42. Singer Ricky Martin is 37. "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest is 34. Thought for Today: "Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful." — The Rev. Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993). [This stupid son of a bitch should have died much, much sooner. — Ed.]

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