Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 27, 1979, Soviet forces seized control of Afghanistan. President Hafizullah Amin (hah-FEE’-zoo-lah ah-MEEN’), who was overthrown and executed, was replaced by Babrak Karmal.
On this date:
In 1822, scientist Louis Pasteur was born in Dole, France.
In 1831, naturalist Charles Darwin set out on a round-the-world voyage aboard the HMS Beagle.
In 1945, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were formally established.
In 1958, American physicist James Van Allen reported the discovery of a second radiation belt around Earth, in addition to one found earlier in the year.
In 1968, Apollo 8 and its three astronauts made a safe, nighttime splashdown in the Pacific.
In 1985, Palestinian guerrillas opened fire inside the Rome and Vienna airports; 19 victims were killed, plus four attackers who were slain by police and security personnel. American naturalist Dian Fossey, 53, who had studied gorillas in the wild in Rwanda, was found hacked to death.
In 1995, Israeli jeeps sped out of the West Bank town of Ramallah, capping a seven-week pullout giving Yasser Arafat control over 90 percent of the West Bank’s 1 million Palestinian residents and one-third of its land.
In 1999, Space shuttle Discovery and its seven-member crew returned to Earth after fixing the Hubble Space Telescope.
In 2000, President Bill Clinton put the first Black judge on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals serving several Southern states. (The nomination of Roger Gregory had been stalled in the Senate, but Clinton used a recess appointment to put him on the bench.)
In 2001, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld announced that Taliban and al-Qaida prisoners would be held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In 2002, a defiant North Korea ordered U.N. nuclear inspectors to leave the country and said it would restart a laboratory capable of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons; the U.N. nuclear watchdog said its inspectors were “staying put” for the time being.
In 2016, actor Carrie Fisher died in a hospital four days after suffering a medical emergency aboard a flight to Los Angeles; she was 60.
Ten years ago: A Russian court found imprisoned oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky (khoh-dohr-KAHV’-skee) guilty of stealing nearly $30 billion in oil from his company, Yukos. (His supporters charged that Khodorkovsky’s prosecution was politically motivated; he was pardoned by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Dec. 2013.) Economist and former government official Alfred E. Kahn, known as “the father of airline deregulation,” died in Ithaca, New York, at age 93.
Five years ago: British Prime Minister David Cameron sent hundreds more troops into northern England to help exhausted residents and emergency workers fight back rising river waters that had inundated towns and cities after weeks of heavy rain. Death claimed Harlem Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon at age 83; baseball player Dave Henderson at age 57; cinematographer Haskell Wexler at age 93; painter-sculptor Ellsworth Kelly at age 92.
One year ago: Radio personality Don Imus died in Texas at the age of 79; he had risen to fame with a caustic persona, but his career took a plunge after a nationally-broadcast racial slur. Kawhi Leonard of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers was named the Associated Press’ male athlete of the year. Breakthrough singer-rapper Lizzo was named Entertainer of the Year by The Associated Press.
Today’s Birthdays: Actor John Amos is 81. Rock musician Mick Jones (Foreigner) is 76. Singer Tracy Nelson is 76. Actor Gerard Depardieu is 72. Jazz singer-musician T.S. Monk is 71. Singer-songwriter Karla Bonoff is 69.
Rock musician David Knopfler (Dire Straits) is 68. Actor Tovah Feldshuh is 67. Journalist-turned-politician Arthur Kent is 67. Actor Maryam D’Abo is 60. Actor Ian Gomez is 56. Actor Theresa Randle is 56. Actor Eva LaRue is 54. Wrestler and actor Bill Goldberg is 54. Bluegrass singer-musician Darrin Vincent (Dailey & Vincent) is 51. Rock musician Guthrie Govan is 49. Musician Matt Slocum is 48. Actor Wilson Cruz is 47. Singer Olu is 47. Actor Masi Oka is 46. Actor Aaron Stanford is 44. Actor Emilie de Ravin is 39. Actor Jay Ellis is 39. Christian rock musician James Mead (Kutless) is 38. Rock singer Hayley Williams (Paramore) is 32. Country singer Shay Mooney (Dan & Shay) is 29. Actor Timothee Chalamet is 25.