Today in history

By The Associated Press

Today is Sunday, Dec. 16, the 350th day of 2018. There are 15 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 16, 1944, the World War II Battle of the Bulge began as German forces launched a surprise attack against Allied forces through the Ardennes Forest in Belgium and Luxembourg (the Allies were eventually able to turn the Germans back).

On this date:

In 1773, the Boston Tea Party took place as American colonists boarded a British ship and dumped more than 300 chests of tea into Boston Harbor to protest tea taxes.

In 1905, the entertainment trade publication Variety came out with its first weekly issue.

In 1950, President Harry S. Truman proclaimed a national state of emergency in order to fight “world conquest by Communist imperialism.”

In 1960, 134 people were killed when a United Air Lines DC-8 and a TWA Super Constellation collided over New York City.

In 1976, the government halted its swine flu vaccination program following reports of paralysis apparently linked to the vaccine.

In 1980, Harland Sanders, founder of the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant chain, died in Shelbyville, Kentucky, at age 90.

In 1982, Environmental Protection Agency head Anne M. Gorsuch became the first Cabinet-level officer to be cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to submit documents requested by a congressional committee.

In 1985, at services in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, offered condolences to families of 248 soldiers killed in the crash of a chartered plane in Newfoundland.

In 1991, the U.N. General Assembly rescinded its 1975 resolution equating Zionism with racism by a vote of 111-25.

In 2000, President-elect George W. Bush selected Colin Powell to become the first African-American secretary of state.

In 2001, after nine weeks of fighting, Afghan militia leaders claimed control of the last mountain bastion of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida fighters, but bin Laden himself was nowhere to be seen.

In 2012, President Barack Obama visited Newtown, Connecticut, the scene of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre; after meeting privately with victims’ families, the president told an evening vigil he would use “whatever power” he had to prevent future shootings.

Ten years ago: President-elect Barack Obama announced his choice of Arne Duncan, the head of the Chicago school system, to be his education secretary. The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to authorize nations to conduct land and air attacks on pirate bases on the coast of Somalia. The Cleveland Clinic announced its surgeons had performed the nation’s first near-total face transplant on a severely disfigured woman. (The woman, Connie Culp, went public with her identity in May 2009.) Police in Hollywood, Fla., closed their investigation into the 1981 abduction-slaying of 6-year-old Adam Walsh, saying a serial killer who’d died more than a decade earlier in prison, Ottis Toole, was responsible.

Five years ago: In the first ruling of its kind, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon declared that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records likely violated the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable search. Ray Price, 87, one of country music’s most popular and influential singers and bandleaders, died in Mount Pleasant, Texas.

One year ago: Two female couples tied the knot in Australia’s first same-sex weddings under new legislation allowing gay marriages.

Today’s Birthdays: Civil rights attorney Morris Dees is 82. Actress Joyce Bulifant is 81. Actress Liv Ullmann is 80. CBS news correspondent Lesley Stahl is 77. Former Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons is 74. Pop musician Tony Hicks (The Hollies) is 73. Pop singer Benny Andersson (ABBA) is 72. Actor Ben Cross is 71. Rock singer-musician Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) is 69. Rock musician Bill Bateman (The Blasters) is 67. Actor Xander Berkeley is 63. Actress Alison LaPlaca is 59. Actor Sam Robards is 57. Actor Jon Tenney is 57. Actor Benjamin Bratt is 55. Country singer-songwriter Jeff Carson is 55. Actor-comedian JB Smoove is 53. Actress Miranda Otto is 51. Actor Daniel Cosgrove is 48. Rhythm-and-blues singer Michael McCary is 47. Actor Jonathan Scarfe is 43. Actress Krysten Ritter is 37. Actress Zoe Jarman is 36. Country musician Chris Scruggs is 36. Actor Theo James is 34. Actress Amanda Setton is 33. Rock musician Dave Rublin (American Authors) is 32. Actress Hallee Hirsh is 31. Actress Anna Popplewell is 30. Actor Stephan James is 25.

Thought for Today: “There is no king who has not had a slave among his ancestors, and no slave who has not had a king among his.” — Helen Keller, American author and lecturer (1880-1968).

By The Associated Press