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Today in History

Today in History

Today is Monday, Dec. 18, the 352nd day of 2017. There are 13 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 18, 1892, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet “The Nutcracker” publicly premiered in St. Petersburg, Russia; although now considered a classic, it received a generally negative reception from critics.

On this date:

In 1787, New Jersey became the third state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

In 1863, in a speech to the Prussian Parliament, Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck declared, “Politics is not an exact science.”

In 1865, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery, was declared in effect by Secretary of State William H. Seward.

In 1912, fossil collector Charles Dawson reported to the Geological Society of London his discovery of supposed early human remains at a gravel pit in Piltdown. (More than four decades later, Piltdown Man was exposed as a hoax.)

In 1916, during World War I, the 10-month Battle of Verdun ended with French troops succeeding in repulsing a major German offensive.

In 1917, Congress passed the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors” and sent it to the states for ratification.

In 1944, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the government’s wartime evacuation of people of Japanese descent from the West Coast while at the same time ruling that “concededly loyal” Americans of Japanese ancestry could not continue to be detained.

In 1956, Japan was admitted to the United Nations. The panel game show “To Tell the Truth” debuted on CBS-TV.

In 1969, Britain’s House of Lords joined the House of Commons in making permanent a 1965 ban on the death penalty for 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 1992, Kim Young-sam was elected South Korea’s first civilian president in three decades.

Ten years ago: The White House said President George W. Bush had approved “a significant reduction” in the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, cutting it to less than one-quarter its size at the end of the Cold War. The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to extend the U.S.-led multinational force in Iraq for one year. Jacob Zuma was elected leader of the African National Congress, South Africa’s ruling party, defeating incumbent Thabo Mbeki (TAH’-boh um-BEH’-kee).

Five years ago: Classes resumed in Newtown, Connecticut, except at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the scene of a massacre four days earlier. Two bank robbers pulled off a daring escape from downtown Chicago’s high-rise jail by scaling down 17 stories using a makeshift rope. (Kenneth Conley and Jose Banks were later recaptured.) Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel became the first freshman to be voted The Associated Press Player of the Year in college football.

One year ago: A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a military camp in the southern Yemeni city of Aden, killing at least 52 soldiers; the Islamic State group’s Yemen-based affiliate claimed responsibility. Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor died at her Los Angeles home at age 99.

Today’s Birthdays: Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark is 90. Actor Roger Mosley is 79. Rock singer-musician Keith Richards is 74. Writer-director Alan Rudolph is 74. Movie producer-director Steven Spielberg is 71. Blues artist Ron Piazza is 70. Movie director Gillian Armstrong is 67. Movie reviewer Leonard Maltin is 67. Rock musician Elliot Easton is 64. Actor Ray Liotta is 62. Comedian Ron White is 61. R&B singer Angie Stone is 56. Actor Brad Pitt is 54. Professional wrestler-turned-actor “Stone Cold” Steve Austin is 53. Actor Shawn Christian is 52. Actress Rachel Griffiths is 49. Singer Alejandro Sanz is 49. Actor Casper Van Dien is 49. Country/rap singer Cowboy Troy is 47. Rapper DMX is 47. International Tennis Hall of Famer Arantxa Sanchez Vicario is 46. DJ Lethal (Limp Bizkit) is 45. Pop singer Sia is 42. Country singer Randy Houser is 41. Actor Josh Dallas is 39. Actress Katie Holmes is 39. Actor Ravi Patel is 39. Singer Christina Aguilera is 37. Christian rock musician Dave Luetkenhoelter (Kutless) is 35. Actress Ashley Benson is 28. Actress-singer Bridgit Mendler is 25. Actress Isabella Cramp is 13.

Thought for Today: “Being jealous of a beautiful woman is not going to make you more beautiful.” — Zsa Zsa Gabor (1917-2016).

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