Today is Wednesday, Dec. 14, the 349th day of 2016. There are 17 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 14, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson vetoed an immigration measure aimed at preventing “undesirables” and anyone born in the “Asiatic Barred Zone” from entering the U.S. (Congress overrode Wilson’s veto in Feb. 1917.)
On this date:
In 1799, the first president of the United States, George Washington, died at his Mount Vernon, Virginia, home at age 67.
In 1819, Alabama joined the Union as the 22nd state.
In 1911, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen (ROH’-ahl AH’-mun-suhn) and his team became the first men to reach the South Pole, beating out a British expedition led by Robert F. Scott.
In 1918, “Il Trittico,” a trio of one-act operas by Giacomo Puccini, premiered at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House. (The third opera, “Gianni Schicchi (SKEE’-kee),” featured the aria “O Mio Babbino Caro,” which was an instant hit.)
In 1936, the comedy “You Can’t Take It With You” by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart opened on Broadway.
In 1946, the United Nations General Assembly voted to establish the U.N.’s headquarters in New York.
In 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States, ruled that Congress was within its authority to enforce the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against racial discrimination by private businesses (in this case, a motel that refused to cater to blacks).
In 1972, Apollo 17 astronauts Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan concluded their third and final moonwalk and blasted off for their rendezvous with the command module.
In 1981, Israel annexed the Golan Heights, which it had seized from Syria in 1967.
In 1986, the experimental aircraft Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California on the first non-stop, non-refueled flight around the world.
In 1996, a freighter lost power on the Mississippi River and barreled into the Riverwalk complex in New Orleans; miraculously, no one was killed.
In 2012, a gunman with a semi-automatic rifle killed 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, then committed suicide as police arrived; 20-year-old Adam Lanza had also fatally shot his mother at their home before carrying out the attack on the school.
Ten years ago: South Korea’s Ban Ki-moon was sworn in as the eighth secretary-general of the United Nations. A British police inquiry concluded that the deaths of Princess Diana and her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, in a 1997 Paris car crash were a “tragic accident,” and that allegations of a murder conspiracy were unfounded. Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun (AH’-meht EHR’-teh-guhn) died in New York at age 83. Actor Mike Evans, who played Lionel Jefferson on “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons,” died in Twentynine Palms, California, at age 57.
Five years ago: President Barack Obama, visiting Fort Bragg in North Carolina, saluted troops returning from Iraq, asserting that the nearly nine-year conflict was ending honorably. The House voted 283-136 to approve a massive $662 billion defense bill (the Senate gave its approval the following day). The NFL renewed its television deals with CBS, Fox and NBC for nine years through the 2022 season. Singer Billie Jo Spears, 73, whose performance of “Blanket on the Ground” went No. 1 on the country charts in 1975, died in Vidor, Texas.
One year ago: Bill Cosby fired back at seven women who were suing him for defamation, accusing them in a federal countersuit of making false accusations of sexual misconduct for financial gain. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that Pete Rose, serving a lifetime ban for betting on baseball, would continue to be banned from working in the sport. Lillian Vernon, 88, creator of a multimillion dollar catalog business that sold specialized gifts and home goods, died in New York. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” had its world premiere at Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theater.
Today’s Birthdays: Singer-actress Abbe Lane is 85. Actor Hal Williams is 82. Actress-singer Jane Birkin is 70. Pop singer Joyce Vincent-Wilson (Tony Orlando and Dawn) is 70. Entertainment executive Michael Ovitz is 70. Actress Dee Wallace is 68. Rhythm-and-blues singer Ronnie McNeir (The Four Tops) is 67. Rock musician Cliff Williams is 67. Actor-comedian T.K. Carter is 60. Rock singer-musician Mike Scott (The Waterboys) is 58. Singer-musician Peter “Spider” Stacy (The Pogues) is 58. Actress Cynthia Gibb is 53. Actress Nancy Valen (TV: “Baywatch”) is 51. Actor Archie Kao is 47. Actress Natascha McElhone is 47. Actress-comedian Michaela Watkins is 45. Actress-comedian Miranda Hart is 44. Rhythm-and-blues singer Brian Dalyrimple (Soul For Real) is 41. Actress KaDee Strickland is 41. Actress Tammy Blanchard is 40. Actress Sophie Monk is 37. Actress Vanessa Hudgens is 28. Rock/R&B singer Tori Kelly is 24.
Thought for Today: “You can close your eyes to reality but not to memories.” — Stanislaw J. Lec, Polish author (1909-1966).