Today in History


By the Associated Press

Today is Wednesday, Dec. 2, the 336th day of 2015. There are 29 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 2, 1995, NASA launched the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), a joint project of the United States and the European Space Agency, on a $1 billion mission to study the sun and interplanetary space; since then, SOHO has discovered 3,000 comets.

On this date:

In 1804, Napoleon crowned himself Emperor of the French.

In 1823, President James Monroe outlined his doctrine opposing European expansion in the Western Hemisphere.

In 1859, militant abolitionist John Brown was hanged for his raid on Harpers Ferry the previous October. Artist Georges-Pierre Seurat was born in Paris.

In 1927, Ford Motor Co. unveiled its Model A automobile that replaced its Model T.

In 1939, New York Municipal Airport-LaGuardia Field (later LaGuardia Airport) went into operation as an airliner from Chicago landed at one minute past midnight.

In 1942, an artificially created, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was demonstrated for the first time at the University of Chicago.

In 1954, the U.S. Senate passed, 67-22, a resolution condemning Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy, R-Wis., saying he had “acted contrary to senatorial ethics and tended to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute.”

In 1961, Cuban leader Fidel Castro declared himself a Marxist-Leninist who would eventually lead Cuba to Communism.

In 1970, the newly created Environmental Protection Agency opened its doors; its first director was William D. Ruckelshaus.

In 1980, four American churchwomen were raped and murdered outside San Salvador. (Five El Salvador national guardsmen were later convicted of murdering nuns Ita Ford, Maura Clarke and Dorothy Kazel, and lay worker Jean Donovan.)

In 1982, in the first operation of its kind, doctors at the University of Utah Medical Center implanted a permanent artificial heart in the chest of retired dentist Dr. Barney Clark, who lived 112 days with the device.

In 1990, composer Aaron Copland died in North Tarrytown, New York, at age 90. Actor Bob Cummings died in Woodland Hills, California, at age 80.

Ten years ago: North Carolina inmate Kenneth Lee Boyd became the 1,000th person executed since the U.S. resumed capital punishment in 1977. Singapore executed a Vietnamese-born Australian heroin trafficker (Nguyen Tuong Van) despite a warning by Australian Prime Minister John Howard that the hanging would sour relations between the two countries.

Five years ago: The House voted, 333-79, to censure Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., for financial and fundraising misconduct; it was only the 23rd time that the House had invoked its most serious punishment short of expulsion. LeBron James scored 38 points to lead the visiting Miami Heat to a 118-90 victory over the host Cleveland Cavaliers; it was James’ first game back in the city where he had played for seven years before leaving via free agency. The tiny desert nation of Qatar beat out the United States as the 2022 World Cup host (however, questions have since been raised about the bidding process).

One year ago: Israel’s divided government fell apart as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired two rebellious Cabinet ministers and called for a new election more than two years ahead of schedule. Islamic militants killed 36 quarry workers in northern Kenya who they believed were non-Muslims.

Today’s Birthdays: Former Attorney General Edwin Meese III is 84. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is 76. Actress Cathy Lee Crosby is 71. Movie director Penelope Spheeris is 70. Actor Ron Raines is 66. Country singer John Wesley Ryles is 65. Actor Keith Szarabajka is 63. Actor Dan Butler is 61. Broadcast journalist Stone Phillips is 61. Actor Dennis Christopher is 60. Actor Steven Bauer is 59. Country singer Joe Henry is 55. Rock musician Rick Savage (Def Leppard) is 55. Actor Brendan Coyle (TV: “Downton Abbey”) is 52. Rock musician Nate Mendel (Foo Fighters) is 47. Actress Suzy Nakamura is 47. Actress Rena Sofer is 47. Rock singer Jimi (cq) HaHa (Jimmie’s Chicken Shack) is 47. Actress Lucy Liu (loo) is 47. Rapper Treach (Naughty By Nature) is 45. Actor Joe Lo Truglio is 45. Tennis player Monica Seles is 42. Singer Nelly Furtado is 37. Pop singer Britney Spears is 34. Actress-singer Jana Kramer is 32. Actress Daniela Ruah (roo-ah) is 32. NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers is 32. Actor Alfred Enoch is 27. Actresses Deanna and Daniella Canterman are 23.

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