Today is Tuesday, Dec. 17, the 351st day of 2019. There are 14 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 17, 1992, President George H.W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney (muhl-ROO’-nee) and Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari (sah-LEE’-nuhs deh gohr-TAHR’-ee) signed the North American Free Trade Agreement in separate ceremonies. (After President Donald Trump demanded a new deal, the three countries signed a replacement agreement in 2018; it awaits approval by lawmakers.)
On this date:
In 1777, France recognized American independence.
In 1865, Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 8, known as the “Unfinished” because only two movements had been completed, was first performed publicly in Vienna 37 years after the composer’s death.
In 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright of Dayton, Ohio, conducted the first successful manned powered-airplane flights near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, using their experimental craft, the Wright Flyer.
In 1938, German chemists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann discovered nuclear fission by splitting the nuclei of uranium into lighter elements.
In 1944, the U.S. War Department announced it was ending its policy of excluding people of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast.
In 1969, the U.S. Air Force closed its Project “Blue Book” by concluding there was no evidence of extraterrestrial spaceships behind thousands of UFO sightings. An estimated 50 million TV viewers watched singer Tiny Tim marry his fiancee, Miss Vicky, on NBC’s “Tonight Show.”
In 1975, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme was sentenced in Sacramento, Calif. to life in prison for her attempt on the life of President Gerald R. Ford. (She was paroled in Aug. 2009.)
In 1979, Arthur McDuffie, a black insurance executive, was fatally injured after leading police on a chase with his motorcycle in Miami. (Four white police officers accused of beating McDuffie were later acquitted, sparking riots.)
In 1994, North Korea shot down a U.S. Army helicopter which had strayed north of the demilitarized zone. The co-pilot, Chief Warrant Officer David Hilemon, was killed; the pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Bobby Hall, was captured and held for nearly two weeks.
In 2000, President-elect George W. Bush named Stanford professor Condoleezza Rice his national security adviser and Alberto Gonzales to the White House counsel’s job, the same day Bush was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year.’
In 2007, Iran received its first nuclear fuel from Russia, paving the way for the startup of its reactor.
In 2011, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died after more than a decade of iron rule; he was 69, according to official records, but some reports indicated he was 70.
Ten years ago: Large pieces of a climate deal fell into place on the next-to-last day of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chris Henry, 26, died a day after falling out of the back of a pickup truck in Charlotte, North Carolina. Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Jones, 90, died in Malibu, California.
Five years ago: The United States and Cuba restored diplomatic relations, sweeping away one of the last vestiges of the Cold War. Sony Pictures canceled the Dec. 25 release of “The Interview,” a black comedy about a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, after hackers threatened terrorist attacks and the largest multiplex chains in North America pulled the film. Veteran broadcast journalist Richard C. Hottelet, 97, the last of the original “Murrow’s Boys,” died in Wilton, Connecticut.
One year ago: Actress and director Penny Marshall, who starred in the sitcom “Laverne & Shirley” before directing film comedies such as “Big” and “A League of Their Own,” died in her Los Angeles home at the age of 75 due to complications from diabetes. CBS announced that former CEO Les Moonves would not receive his $120 million severance package after the board of directors found he had violated company policy and was uncooperative with an investigation of sexual misconduct allegations. A report from the Senate intelligence committee found that Russia’s political disinformation campaign on U.S. social media was more far-reaching than originally thought, with troll farms working to discourage black voters and “blur the lines between reality and fiction” to help elect Donald Trump. Google announced that it would build a new office complex in New York City, in the tech industry’s latest major expansion beyond the Seattle-San Francisco corridor.
Today’s Birthdays: Actor Armin Mueller-Stahl is 89. Pope Francis is 83. Singer-actor Tommy Steele is 83. Actor Bernard Hill is 75. Actor Ernie Hudson is 74. Political commentator Chris Matthews is 74. Comedian-actor Eugene Levy is 73. Actress Marilyn Hassett is 72. Actor Wes Studi is 72. Pop musician Jim Bonfanti (The Raspberries) is 71. Actor Joel Brooks is 70. Rock singer Paul Rodgers is 70. Rhythm-and-blues singer Wanda Hutchinson Vaughn (The Emotions) is 68. Actor Bill Pullman is 66. Actor Barry Livingston is 66. Country singer Sharon White is 66. Producer-director-writer Peter Farrelly is 63. Rock musician Mike Mills (R.E.M.) is 61. Pop singer Sarah Dallin (Bananarama) is 58. Country musician Tim Chewning is 57. Country singer Tracy Byrd is 53. Country musician Duane Propes is 53. Actress Laurie Holden is 50. DJ Homicide (Sugar Ray) is 49. Actor Sean Patrick Thomas is 49. Actress Claire Forlani is 48. Pop-rock musician Eddie Fisher (OneRepublic) is 46. Actress Sarah Paulson is 45. Actress Marissa Ribisi is 45. Actor Giovanni Ribisi is 45. Actress Milla Jovovich (YO’-vuh-vich) is 44. Singer Bree Sharp is 44. Singer-songwriter Ben Goldwasser (MGMT) is 37. Rock singer Mikky Ekko is 36. Actress Shannon Woodward is 35. Actress Emma Bell is 33. Actress Vanessa Zima is 33. Rock musician Taylor York (Paramore) is 30. Actor Graham Rogers is 29. Actor-singer Nat Wolff is 25.
Thought for Today: “A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things.” — “Poor Richard’s Almanack.”