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Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Today is Wednesday, Dec. 17, the 352nd day of 2008.
There are 14 days left in the year.

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 1830, South American patriot Simon Bolivar died in Colombia.
  • In 1925, Col. William "Billy" Mitchell was convicted at his court-martial of insubordination for accusing senior military officials of incompetence and criminal negligence; he was suspended from active duty.
  • In 1933, in the inaugural NFL championship football 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 World War II Battle of the River Plate off Uruguay.
  • In 1944, the U.S. Army announced it was ending 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 1975, Lynette Fromme was sentenced in Sacramento, Calif., to life in prison for her attempt on the life of President Gerald R. Ford.
  • In 1981, members of the Red Brigades kidnapped Brig. Gen. James L. Dozier, the highest-ranking U.S. Army official in southern Europe, from his home in Verona, Italy. (Dozier was rescued 42 days later.)
  • In 1986, Eugene Hasenfus, the American convicted by Nicaragua for his part in running guns to the Contras, was pardoned, then released.

Ten years ago:
  • The United States hit Iraq with a second wave of punishing airstrikes.
  • Republicans advanced the impeachment case against President Bill Clinton to the House floor for a debate the following day.
  • House Speaker-designate Bob Livingston shocked fellow Republicans by admitting he'd had extramarital affairs.

Five years ago:
  • Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan was indicted on corruption charges. (Ryan is serving a 6 1/2-year federal prison sentence for racketeering.)
  • The British government announced the first reported case of a person dying from the human form of mad cow disease after a blood transfusion from an infected donor.
  • An attempt to re-create the Wright brothers' first flight on the 100th anniversary failed to take off.

One year ago:
  • President George W. Bush, addressing a Rotary Club meeting, tried to reassure an edgy public that the economy is "pretty good" despite the mix of a failing housing market, a national credit crunch and surging energy costs.
  • Iran received its first nuclear fuel from Russia, paving the way for the startup of its reactor.
  • Gov. Jon S. Corzine signed a measure making New Jersey the first state to abolish the death penalty in more than 40 years.
  • NBC announced that Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien were planning to return to their late-night shows in early 2008, even as the writers' strike continued.

Today's Birthdays:
  • Newspaper columnist William Safire is 79.
  • Actor Armin Mueller-Stahl is 78.
  • Magazine publisher Robert Guccione is 78.
  • Actor George Lindsey is 73.
  • Singer-actor Tommy Steele is 72.
  • Rock singer-musician Art Neville is 71.
  • Actor Bernard Hill is 64.
  • Actor Christopher Cazenove is 63.
  • Actor Ernie Hudson is 63.
  • Comedian-actor Eugene Levy is 62.
  • Actor Wes Studi is 61.
  • Pop musician Jim Bonfanti (The Raspberries) is 60.
  • Rock singer Paul Rodgers is 59.
  • Rhythm-and-blues singer Wanda Hutchinson (The Emotions) is 57.
  • Actor Bill Pullman is 55.
  • Actor Barry Livingston is 55.
  • Country singer Sharon White is 55.
  • Producer-director-writer Peter Farrelly is 52.
  • Rock musician Mike Mills (R.E.M.) is 50.
  • Pop singer Sarah Dallin (Bananarama) is 47.
  • Country musician Tim Chewning is 46.
  • Country singer Tracy Byrd is 42.
  • Country musician Duane Propes is 42.
  • DJ Homicide (Sugar Ray) is 38.
  • Actor Sean Patrick Thomas is 38.
  • Pop-rock musician Eddie Fisher (OneRepublic) is 35.
  • Actress Sarah Paulson is 34.
  • Actress Marissa Ribisi is 34.
  • Actor Giovanni Ribisi is 34.
  • Actress Milla Jovovich is 33.
  • Singer Bree Sharp is 33.
  • Actress Jennifer Carpenter is 29.
  • Actress Vanessa Zima is 22.
  • Actor-singer Nat Wolff is 14.

Thought for Today:
"The only people who never fail are those who never try."
Ilka Chase, American author, actress, humorist (1905-1978).

"Let's all be careful out there!"


"Let's all be careful out there!"