Today is Friday, Dec. 18, the 352nd day of 2009. There are 13 days left in the year. [There's some bad luck. — Ed.] More bad luck from Moon's UPI.Today's Highlight in History:
On Dec. 18, 1865, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery, was declared in effect by Secretary of State William H. Seward.
On this date:
In 1737, Violin maker Antonio Stradivari died in Cremona, Italy. [Ciao, Tonio! — Ed.]
In 1787, New Jersey became the third state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
In 1886, Baseball Hall of Famer Ty Cobb was born in Narrows, Ga.
In 1915, President Woodrow Wilson, widowed the year before, married Edith Bolling Galt at her Washington home.
In 1940, Adolf Hitler ordered secret preparations for Nazi Germany to invade the Soviet Union. (Operation Barbarossa was launched in June 1941.)
In 1944, in a pair of rulings, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the wartime relocation of Japanese-Americans, but also said undeniably loyal Americans of Japanese ancestry could not continue to be detained.
In 1956, Japan was admitted to the United Nations.
In 1957, the Shippingport Atomic Power Station in Pennsylvania, the first public, full-scale commercial nuclear facility to generate electricity in the United States, went on line. (It was taken out of service in 1982.)
In 1958, the world's first communications satellite, SCORE, or Signal Communication by Orbiting Relay Equipment, nicknamed "Chatterbox," was launched by the United States aboard an Atlas rocket.
In 1969, Britain's House of Lords joined the House of Commons in making permanent a 1965 ban on the death penalty for cases of murder.
In 1972, the United States began heavy bombing of North Vietnamese targets during the Vietnam War. (The bombardment ended 11 days later.)
In 1980, former Soviet Premier Alexei N. Kosygin died at age 76.
In 1985, the U.S. Congress approved the biggest overhaul of farm legislation since the Depression, trimming price supports.
In 1987, Ivan F. Boesky was sentenced to three years in prison for plotting Wall Street's biggest insider-trading scandal.
In 1989, a pipe bomb killed Savannah, Ga., City Councilman Robert Robinson, hours after a bomb was discovered at the Atlanta federal courthouse. A racial motive was cited in a rash of bomb incidents. Also in 1989, the Romanian government sealed the borders amid reports of a deadly crackdown on dissidents.
In 1990, Moldavia became the sixth Soviet republic to refuse to participate in a 10-day meeting in a mounting affront to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
In 1991, General Motors announced it would close 21 plants and eliminate 74,000 jobs in four years to offset record losses.
In 1997, President Clinton extended indefinitely the deadline for withdrawal of U.S. troops helping with the U.N. peacekeeping effort in Bosnia. Onetime dissident Kim Dae-jung of South Korea was elected the country's president. Fired California highway employee Arturo Reyes Torres shot and killed four people at a maintenance yard before being killed by police. Also in 1997, the 6-mile-long Tokyo Bay tunnel connecting the cities of Kawasaki and Kisarazu opened. The project took 8 1/2 years to complete and cost $17 billion.
In 1998, The House of Representatives began debate on four articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton.
In 1999, in St. Martinville, La., the last of the federal immigration detainees who'd taken a jail warden and three others hostage for almost a week surrendered. After living atop an ancient redwood in Humboldt County, Calif., for two years, environmental activist Julia "Butterfly" Hill came down to earth, ending her anti-logging protest.
In 2002, embattled Senate Republican leader Trent Lott sustained a double-barreled setback as Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee broke ranks to call for a change in party leadership and Secretary of State Colin Powell forcefully criticized Lott's controversial remarks on race. Robert Johnson, the billionaire founder of Black Entertainment Television, was chosen as owner of the NBA's new Charlotte expansion franchise.
In 2003, a judge in Seattle sentenced confessed Green River killer Gary Ridgeway to 48 consecutive life terms. A jury in Chesapeake, Va., convicted teenager Lee Boyd Malvo of two counts of murder in the Washington-area sniper shootings. (He was later sentenced to life in prison without parole.)
In 2004, The former Iraqi general known as "Chemical Ali," Ali Hassan al-Majid, went before a judge in the first investigative hearings of former members of his regime. Former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet was hospitalized after suffering a stroke. Also in 2004, Britain's Prince Charles was reported leading efforts to end the death penalty imposed in some cases under Islamic law for Muslims who convert to other religions.
In 2006, Robert Gates was sworn in as defense secretary. President Bush signed legislation to let America share its nuclear know-how and fuel with India. [In exchange for cheaper mangoes, if we're not mistaken. Good deal! — Ed.] The NBA suspended seven players for their roles in a brawl between Denver and New York; each team was fined $500,000.
In 2008, a U.N. court in Tanzania convicted former Rwandan army Col. Theoneste Bagosora of genocide and crimes against humanity for masterminding the killings of more than half a million people in a 100-day slaughter in 1994. W. Mark Felt, the former FBI second-in-command who'd revealed himself as "Deep Throat" three decades after the Watergate scandal, died in Santa Rosa, Calif., at age 95.
Today's Birthdays: Television writer-producer Hal Kanter is 91. Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark is 82. Actor Roger Smith is 77. Blues musician Lonnie Brooks is 76. Actor Roger Mosley is 71. Rock "singer"-musician Keith Richards is 66.
Those Less Mobile Born on this Date: Joseph Grimaldi, known as the "greatest clown in history," (1778); English physicist Joseph Thompson, discoverer of the electron, (1856); British short story writer Saki (H.H. Munro) (1870); Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin (1879? Plenty of debate on this one, doesn't help that the stupid Russkies were still on the Julian calrndar.); Paul Klee, artist (1879); Edwin Armstrong, engineer, inventor of FM radio (1890); Fletcher Henderson, jazz composer and pianist (1897); Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., Tuskeegee Airman, first African-American to make general in the AF (1912); Willy Brandt, political leader (1913); Betty Grable (left) actress (1916); Ossie Davis, actor, director, screenwriter (1917).
Today In Entertainment History December 18
In 1957, the film "Bridge On The River Kwai" premiered in New York.
In 1964, funeral services were held in Chicago for singer Sam Cooke, who had been shot and killed in Los Angeles. Fans broke glass and caused other damage to the funeral home where Cooke's body was displayed in a glass-covered coffin.
In 1971, Jerry Lee Lewis divorced his cousin, Myra Gale Brown. They had married in 1957 when she was 13.
In 1983, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards married model Patti Hansen in Mexico, on his 40th birthday. Mick Jagger was his best man.
In 1984, actress Jamie Lee Curtis married comedian Christopher Guest of "Saturday Night Live" in Rob Reiner's home in Los Angeles.
In 1991, actor Deforest Kelley, known for his role as Dr. McCoy on "Star Trek," got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In 1995, Kenny G and his family escaped a fire that caused $275,000 dollars damage to their home in suburban Los Angeles.
In 1997, comedian Chris Farley was found dead in his apartment in Chicago of a cocaine and morphine overdose. He was 33. [Lesson from this? Don't be the fat guy on SNL & mix blow & smack. — Ed.]
In 1999, French film director Robert Bresson died in Paris at age 98.
In 2003, Michael Jackson was formally charged with seven counts of lewd or lascivious acts upon a child and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent. He was acquitted of the charges.
In 2006, animator Joe Barbera died in Los Angeles at age 95.
In 2008, "Star Trek" actress Majel Barrett Roddenberry, widow of series creator Gene Roddenberry, died in Los Angeles at age 76.
Thought for Today: "No one worth possessing can be quite possessed." — Sara Teasdale, American author and poet (1884-1933).