Today is Thursday, Dec. 17, the 351st day of 2009. There are 14 days left in the year. (Two wks., bitchezz!) The UPI has history too!Today's Highlight in History:
On Dec. 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright of Dayton, Ohio, conducted the first successful manned, powered airplane flights, near Kitty Hawk, N.C., using their experimental craft, the Wright Flyer.
On this date:
In 1777, France recognized American independence.
In 1790, the Aztec Calendar or Solar Stone was uncovered by workmen repairing Mexico City's Central Plaza. [Is this the one that runs out soon? — Ed.]
In 1830, South American revolutionary Simon Bolivar died in Colombia. [The North Carolina tee vee station web site whence we steal this used the word "patriot" instead of "revolutionary." As a commie, & as it's hard to be a "patriot" to all of South America, we changed it even before seeing that the AP's site also uses "revolutionary." More damn media bias. — Ed.]
In 1925, Col. William "Billy" Mitchell was convicted at his court-martial in Washington, D.C., of insubordination for accusing senior military officials of incompetence and criminal negligence; he was suspended from active duty. He was awarded the Medal of Honor 20 years after his death.
In 1933, in the first NFL championship game, the Chicago Bears defeated the New York Giants 23-21 at Wrigley Field.
In 1939, the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee was scuttled by its crew, ending the Battle of the River Plate off Uruguay. See the movie. It's fun! — Ed.]
In 1944, the U.S. Army announced the end of its policy of excluding Japanese-Americans from the West Coast.
In 1957, the United States successfully test-fired the Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time.
In 1967, the Clean Air Act was passed by the U.S. Congress.
In 1969, the U.S. Air Force closed its Project "Blue Book" by concluding there was no evidence of extraterrestrial spaceships behind thousands of UFO sightings.
In 1975, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme was sentenced in Sacramento, Calif., to life in prison for her attempt on the life of President Gerald R. Ford. (She was paroled in August 2009.)
In 1979, in a case that aggravated racial tensions, Arthur McDuffie, a black insurance executive, was fatally injured after leading police on a chase with his motorcycle in Miami. (Four white police officers accused of beating McDuffie were later acquitted, sparking riots.)
In 1981, members of the Red Brigades kidnapped Brigadier General James L. Dozier, the highest-ranking US Army official in southern Europe, from his home in Verona, Italy. (Dozier was rescued 42 days later.) [We still think he should have been executed, then drawn & quartered. — Ed.]
In 1986, Eugene Hasenfus, an American convicted by Nicaragua for his part in running guns to the Contras, was pardoned and released.
In 1992, President George H.W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari signed the North American Free Trade Agreement in separate ceremonies.
In 1996, Kofi Annan of Ghana became United Nations secretary-general.
In 1997, the United States and 33 other countries signed a convention in Paris aimed at eradicating bribery in international business. President Clinton's panel on race relations met at Annandale High School in Virginia.
In 1999, President Bill Clinton signed a law letting millions of disabled Americans retain their government-funded health coverage when they take a job. The U.N. Security Council ended a yearlong deadlock and voted to send weapons inspectors back to Iraq and consider suspending sanctions if Baghdad cooperated.
In 2001, U.S. officials said they believed they had destroyed Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network in Afghanistan but it became evident in a few days that hundreds of bin Laden's men were escaping through the mountains into Pakistan.
In 2002, insurance and finance company Conseco Incorporated filed for Chapter 11 protection. Congo's government, rebels and opposition parties signed a peace agreement to end four years of civil war.
In 2004, President George W. Bush signed into law the largest overhaul of U.S. intelligence-gathering in 50 years. Pfizer Inc. said it had found an increased risk of heart problems with patients taking Celebrex.
In 2005, President George W. Bush acknowledged he'd personally authorized a secret eavesdropping program in the U.S. following Sept. 11, calling it "crucial to our national security."
In 2006, gunmen in Iraqi army uniforms kidnapped two dozen employees at the Red Crescent offices in downtown Baghdad. Searchers on Mount Hood in Oregon found the body of missing climber Kelly James; two other climbers remain missing. Dodgers reliever Larry Sherry, the most valuable player of the 1959 World Series, died in Mission Viejo, California, at age 71.
In 2007, Gov. Jon S. Corzine signed a measure making New Jersey the first state to abolish the death penalty in more than 40 years.
In 2008, President-elect Barack Obama named former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary and Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado to head the Interior Department. OPEC agreed to slash 2.2 million barrels from daily production — its single largest cut ever. Pro Football Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh died in Rotan, Texas, at age 94.
Today's Birthdays: Actor Armin Mueller-Stahl is 79. [Smut] Magazine publisher Bob Guccione is 79. Actor George Lindsey is 74. Singer-actor Tommy Steele is 73. Rock singer-musician Art Neville is 72. Actor Christopher Cazenove is 66. Actor Bernard Hill is 65. Actor Ernie Hudson is 64. MSNBC political commentator Chris Matthews is 64. [Can we hope the awful bastard will retire at this time next yr.? Please? — Ed.] Comedian-actor Eugene Levy is 63. Actress Marilyn Hassett is 62. Actor Wes Studi is 62. Pop musician Jim Bonfanti (The Raspberries) is 61. Actor Joel Brooks is 60. Rock singer Paul Rodgers is 60. R&B singer Wanda Hutchinson (The Emotions) is 58. Actor Bill Pullman is 56. Actor Barry Livingston is 56. Country singer Sharon White is 56. Producer-director-writer Peter Farrelly is 53. Rock musician Mike Mills (R.E.M.) is 51. Pop singer Sara Dallin (Bananarama) is 48.
People Born on This Date Who Have Since Died: Sir Humphry Davy, chemist, physicist (1778): "He investigated the properties of nitrous oxide (laughing gas)." [Does that mean he was the first person to discover that it gives one a buzz, or that he kept messing w/ it once it was discovered? — Ed.]; American Revolutionary War soldier Deborah Sampson, who fought as a man under the alias Robert Shurtleff, (1760); John Greenleaf Whittier, poet (1807); W.L. Mackenzie King, political leader (1874) [Canadian P. M. during WWII, later sold the Canucks out to the U. S. — Ed.]; Arthur Fiedler, conductor (1894); Erskine Caldwell, author of "Tobacco Road" (1903); composer/bandleader Ray Noble (1903); Sylvia Ashton-Warner, novelist and educator (1905); Western swing bandleader/violinist Spade Cooley, who also killed his wife, & did time in Vacaville (1910); William Safire, newspaper columnist (1929).
Today In Entertainment History December 17
In 1959, Stanley Kramer's anti-nuclear war drama "On the Beach," starring Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner, premiered on all seven continents (including Antarctica).
In 1969, an estimated 50 million TV viewers watched as singer Tiny Tim married Miss Vicki on NBC's "Tonight Show." The event earned the show its highest ratings to that date. Also in 1969, Chicago's first album, "Chicago Transit Authority," was certified gold.
In 1970, the Beach Boys played a command performance for Princess Margaret in London.
In 1977, Elvis Costello and the Attractions performed on "Saturday Night Live" as a last-minute replacement for the Sex Pistols, who were denied U. S. visas. Costello was told not to play his song "Radio, Radio" because of its criticisms of the broadcasting industry, but he interrupted another song to play it.
In 1982, The Who played the last show of its farewell tour at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens. By the end of the decade, they had reunited for another tour. Also in 1982, bluesman Big Joe Williams died of natural causes in Macon, Miss., at the age of 79. His best known songs include "Baby Please Don't Go" and "Big Fat Mama."
In 1986, a jury in Las Vegas found NBC guilty of defaming singer Wayne Newton by linking him to organized crime.
In 1989, the animated TV series "The Simpsons" premiered on Fox with a Christmas-themed episode.
In 1992, Barbra Streisand signed a movie and music deal with Sony. Terms weren't revealed, but sources estimated the deal was worth $60 million.
In 1997, The Presidents of the United States of America announced their breakup. They have since gotten back together.
In 2001, comedian Tom Green filed for divorce from actress Drew Barrymore after less than six months of marriage.
In 2002, playwright Frederick Knott, who wrote "Dial M For Murder" and "Wait Until Dark," died in New York City at age 86.
Thought for Today: "A fool and his money are soon parted, but you never call him a fool 'til the money is gone." — Anonymous. [Shorter Anonymous: That's capitalism!]