Today in History


By the Associated Press

Today is Tuesday, Dec. 8, the 342nd day of 2015. There are 23 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 8, 1941, the United States entered World War II as Congress declared war against Imperial Japan, a day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

On this date:

In 1765, Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin, was born in Westborough, Massachusetts.

In 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the Catholic dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which holds that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was free of original sin from the moment of her own conception.

In 1865, Finnish composer Jean Sibelius was born in Haemeenlinna.

In 1914, “Watch Your Step,” the first musical revue to feature a score composed entirely by Irving Berlin, opened in New York.

In 1940, the Chicago Bears defeated the Washington Redskins, 73-0, in the NFL Championship Game, which was carried on network radio for the first time by the Mutual Broadcasting System (the announcer was Red Barber).

In 1949, the Chinese Nationalist government moved from the Chinese mainland to Formosa as the Communists pressed their attacks.

In 1962, the first session of the Second Vatican Council was formally adjourned. Typographers went on a 114-day strike against four New York City newspapers.

In 1972, a United Airlines Boeing 737 crashed while attempting to land at Chicago-Midway Airport, killing 43 of the 61 people on board, as well as two people on the ground; among the dead were Dorothy Hunt, wife of Watergate conspirator E. Howard Hunt, U.S. Rep. George W. Collins, D-Ill., and CBS News correspondent Michele Clark.

In 1980, rock star John Lennon was shot to death outside his New York City apartment building by an apparently deranged fan.

In 1982, a man demanding an end to nuclear weapons held the Washington Monument hostage, threatening to blow it up with explosives he claimed were inside a van. (After a 10-hour standoff, Norman D. Mayer was shot dead by police; it turned out there were no explosives.)

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev signed a treaty at the White House calling for destruction of intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

In 1992, Americans got to see live television coverage of U.S. troops landing on the beaches of Somalia as Operation Restore Hope began (because of the time difference, it was early Dec. 9 in Somalia).

Ten years ago: A Southwest Airlines jet landing at Chicago Midway International Airport during a snowstorm slid off the runway and onto a busy street, killing a boy in a car. In Iraq, a suicide bomber set off explosives inside a packed bus bound for a southern Shiite city, killing 32 people.

Five years ago: President Barack Obama rejected claims that he had betrayed Democrats by cutting a deal with Republicans on Bush-era tax cuts and implored his party to back the compromise, arguing it could jump-start the economy. Hackers rushed to the defense of WikiLeaks, launching attacks on MasterCard, Visa, Swedish prosecutors, a Swiss bank and others who had acted against the site and its founder, Julian Assange. A fire that started during an inmate brawl swept through an overcrowded prison in Chile, killing at least 81 people.

One year ago: The U.S. and NATO ceremonially ended their combat mission in Afghanistan, 13 years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks sparked their invasion of the country to topple the Taliban-led government. Britain’s Prince William sat down with President Barack Obama in Washington while his wife, Kate, made an impression of a down-to-earth duchess on preschoolers and prominent British expats in New York.

Today’s Birthdays: Flutist James Galway is 76. Singer Jerry Butler is 76. Pop musician Bobby Elliott (The Hollies) is 74. Actress Mary Woronov is 72. Actor John Rubinstein is 69. Rock singer-musician Gregg Allman is 68. Reggae singer Toots Hibbert (Toots and the Maytals) is 67. Actress Kim Basinger (BAY’-sing-ur) is 62. Rock musician Warren Cuccurullo is 59. Rock musician Phil Collen (Def Leppard) is 58. Country singer Marty Raybon is 56. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim is 56. Political commentator Ann Coulter is 54. Rock musician Marty Friedman is 53. Actor Wendell Pierce is 52. Actress Teri Hatcher is 51. Actor David Harewood is 50. Rapper Bushwick Bill (The Geto Boys) is 49. Singer Sinead (shih-NAYD’) O’Connor is 49. Actor Matthew Laborteaux is 49. Rock musician Ryan Newell (Sister Hazel) is 43. Actor Dominic Monaghan is 39. Actor Ian Somerhalder is 37. Rock singer Ingrid Michaelson is 36. R&B singer Chrisette Michele is 33. Actress Hannah Ware is 33. Country singer Sam Hunt is 31. Rock singer-actress Kate Voegele (VOH’-gehl) is 29. Christian rock musician Jen Ledger (Skillet) is 26. Actress Wallis Currie-Wood (TV: “Madam Secretary”) is 24. Actress AnnaSophia Robb is 22.

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