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, North Carolina, using their experimental craft, the Wright Flyer.
On this date:
In 1777, France recognized American independence.
In 1933, in the inaugural NFL championship football game, the Chicago Bears defeated the New York Giants, 23-21, at Wrigley Field.
In 1938, German chemists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann discovered nuclear fission by splitting the nuclei of uranium into lighter elements.
In 1944, the U.S. War Department announced it was ending its policy of excluding people of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast.
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 Aug. 2009.)
In 1979, 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 1989, the animated TV series “The Simpsons” premiered on Fox with a Christmas-themed episode.
In 1992, President George H.W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney (muhl-ROO’-nee) and Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari (sah-LEE’-nuhs deh gohr-TAHR’-ee) signed the North American Free Trade Agreement in separate ceremonies. (After President Donald Trump demanded a new deal, the three countries signed a replacement agreement in 2018.)
In 2001, Marines raised the Stars and Stripes over the long-abandoned American Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.
In 2007, Gov. Jon S. Corzine (KOHR’-zyn) signed a measure making New Jersey the first state to abolish the death penalty in more than 40 years.
In 2011, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died after more than a decade of iron rule; he was 69, according to official records, but some reports indicated he was 70.
In 2014, the United States and Cuba restored diplomatic relations, sweeping away one of the last vestiges of the Cold War.
Ten years ago: President Barack Obama signed into law a huge, holiday-season tax bill extending cuts for all Americans, saluting a new spirit of political compromise as Republicans applauded and liberals seethed. Federal prosecutors reached a settlement with the estate of Florida philanthropist Jeffry Picower in which his widow, Barbara, agreed to return $7.2 billion that her husband had reaped from Bernard Madoff’s giant Ponzi scheme. Don Van Vliet, a musician and artist who’d performed a complex brand of experimental rock under the name Captain Beefheart, died in Arcata, California, at age 69. New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees was voted the 2010 Male Athlete of the Year by members of The Associated Press.
Five years ago: Defense Secretary Ash Carter acknowledged that he sometimes used a personal, unsecured email account to conduct official business after he took office, a practice he called “entirely my mistake.” Representatives of Libya’s s two rival factions signed a U.N.-brokered deal to form a unity government.
One year ago: Joe Biden released a doctor’s report saying that the 77-year-old former vice president was “healthy, vigorous” and “fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency.” A federal judge in Washington sentenced former Trump campaign official Rick Gates to 45 days in jail despite what she said was “extraordinary” cooperation with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe and other Justice Department investigations; Gates had pleaded guilty to charges related to political consulting work he did in Ukraine.
Today’s Birthdays: Actor Armin Mueller-Stahl is 90. Pope Francis is 84. Singer-actor Tommy Steele is 84. Actor Bernard Hill is 76 Actor Ernie Hudson is 75. Political commentator Chris Matthews is 75. Comedian-actor Eugene Levy is 74. Actor Marilyn Hassett is 73. Actor Wes Studi is 73. Pop musician Jim Bonfanti (The Raspberries) is 72. Actor Joel Brooks is 71.
Rock singer Paul Rodgers is 71. Rhythm-and-blues singer Wanda Hutchinson Vaughn (The Emotions) is 69. Actor Bill Pullman is 67. Actor Barry Livingston is 67. Country singer Sharon White is 67. Producer-director-writer Peter Farrelly is 64. Rock musician Mike Mills (R.E.M.) is 62. Pop singer Sarah Dallin (Bananarama) is 59. Country singer Tracy Byrd is 54. Country musician Duane Propes is 54. Actor Laurie Holden is 51. DJ Homicide (Sugar Ray) is 50. Actor Sean Patrick Thomas is 50. Actor Claire Forlani is 49. Pop-rock musician Eddie Fisher (OneRepublic) is 47. Actor Sarah Paulson is 46. Actor Marissa Ribisi is 46. Actor Giovanni Ribisi is 46. Actor Milla Jovovich (YO’-vuh-vich) is 45. Singer Bree Sharp is 45. Singer-songwriter Ben Goldwasser (MGMT) is 38. Rock singer Mikky Ekko is 37. Actor Shannon Woodward is 36. Actor Emma Bell is 34. Actor Vanessa Zima is 34. Rock musician Taylor York (Paramore) is 31. Actor Graham Rogers is 30. Actor-singer Nat Wolff is 26.