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Today in History - Dec. 12

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

BC-History-Dec 12, Adv12,0563


For release Tuesday, Dec. 12

Today in History

By The Associated Press

Today is Tuesday, Dec. 12, the 346th day of 2006. There are 19 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 12, 1906, the Senate confirmed Oscar Straus to be President Theodore Roosevelt’s Secretary of Commerce and Labor; Straus became the first Jewish member of a presidential cabinet.

On this date:

In 1787, Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

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

In 1963, Kenya gained its independence from Britain.

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

In 2000, 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.

Ten years ago: Hollywood power broker Michael Ovitz resigned as Walt Disney Co.’s No. 2 executive.

Five years ago: A bus ambush killed 10 Jewish settlers, prompting Israeli warplanes to strike back; Yasser Arafat bowed to long-standing Israeli demands by ordering closed the offices of the militant Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Gerardo Hernandez, the leader of a Cuban spy ring, received a life sentence in federal court in Miami for his role in the infiltration of U.S. military bases and the deaths of four Cuban-Americans.

One year ago: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to block the imminent execution of Stanley Tookie Williams, rejecting the notion that the founder of the murderous Crips gang had atoned for his crimes and found redemption on death row. During an impromptu question-and-answer session before the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, President Bush estimated 30,000 Iraqis had died in the war.

Today’s Birthdays: TV host Bob Barker is 83. Former New York City Mayor Edward Koch is 82. Singer Connie Francis is 68. Singer Dionne Warwick is 66. Rock singer-musician Dickey Betts is 63. Actor Wings Hauser is 59. Country singer LaCosta is 56. Gymnast-turned-actress Cathy Rigby is 54. Actress Sheree J. Wilson is 48. Singer-musician Sheila E. is 47. Rock musician Eric Schenkman (Spin Doctors) is 43. Rock musician Nicholas Dimichino (Nine Days) is 39. Actress Jennifer Connelly is 36. Actress Madchen Amick is 36. Country singer Hank Williams III is 34. Actress Mayim Bialik is 31. Model Bridget Hall is 29.

Thought for Today: “To escape criticism — do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” — Elbert Hubbard, American author and publisher (1856-1915).