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Today in history: December 12

Celebrity birthdays, highlights in history, plus more facts about this day
/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Monday, Dec. 12, the 346th day of 2005. There are 19 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 12, 1787, Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

On this date:
In 1870, Joseph H. Rainey of South Carolina became the first black lawmaker sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 1897, “The Katzenjammer Kids,” the pioneering comic strip created by Rudolph Dirks, made its debut in the New York Journal.

In 1913, authorities in Florence, Italy, announced that the Mona Lisa, stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris in 1911, had been recovered.

In 1917, Father Edward Flanagan founded Boys Town outside Omaha, Neb.

In 1925, the first motel — the Motel Inn — opened in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

In 1937, a Japanese aircraft sank the U.S. gunboat Panay on China’s Yangtze River. (Japan apologized, and paid $2.2 million in reparations.)

In 1947, the United Mine Workers union withdrew from the American Federation of Labor.

In 1963, Kenya gained its independence from Britain.

In 1975, Sara Jane Moore pleaded guilty to a charge of trying to kill President Ford in San Francisco the previous September.

In 1985, 248 American soldiers and eight crew members were killed when an Arrow Air charter crashed after takeoff from Gander, Newfoundland.

Ten years ago: By three votes, the Senate killed a constitutional amendment that would have given Congress authority to outlaw flag burning and other forms of desecration against Old Glory. Two French airmen shot down over Bosnia arrived home after nearly four months as captives of the Bosnian Serbs.

Five years ago: A divided U.S. Supreme Court reversed a state court decision for recounts in Florida’s contested election, transforming George W. Bush into the president-elect. The Marine Corps grounded all eight of its high-tech MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft following a fiery crash in North Carolina that killed four Marines. General Motors announced it would phase out its Oldsmobile division. Actor George Montgomery died in Rancho Mirage, Calif., at age 84.

One year ago: A bomb exploded in a market in southern Philippines, killing at least 14 people. Militants blew up an Israeli base, killing five soldiers. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas apologized to Kuwaitis for the Palestinian support of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.

Today’s Birthdays: TV host Bob Barker is 82. Former New York City Mayor Edward Koch is 81. Singer Connie Francis is 67. Singer Dionne Warwick is 65. Rock singer-musician Dickey Betts is 62. Actor Wings Hauser is 58. Country singer LaCosta is 55. Gymnast-turned-actress Cathy Rigby is 53. Actress Sheree J. Wilson is 47. Singer-musician Sheila E. is 46. Rock musician Eric Schenkman (Spin Doctors) is 42. Rock musician Nicholas Dimichino (Nine Days) is 38. Actress Jennifer Connelly is 35. Actress Madchen Amick is 35. Country singer Hank Williams III is 33. Actress Mayim Bialik is 30. Model Bridget Hall is 28.

Thought for Today: “Experience has taught me that the only cruelties people condemn are those with which they do not happen to be familiar.” — Ellen Glasgow, American author (1874-1945).