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Today in History - Dec. 14

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

Today is Thursday, Dec. 14, the 348th day of 2006. There are 17 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 14, 1799, the first president of the United States, George Washington, died at his Mount Vernon home at age 67.

On this date:
In 1819, Alabama joined the Union as the 22nd state.

In 1861, Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, died in London.

In 1911, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and his group became the first men to reach the South Pole, beating out an expedition led by Robert F. Scott.

In 1939, the Soviet Union was dropped from the League of Nations.

In 1946, the United Nations General Assembly voted to establish U.N. headquarters in New York.

In 1962, the U.S. space probe Mariner 2 approached Venus, transmitting information about the planet.

In 1975, six South Moluccan extremists surrendered after holding 23 hostages for 12 days on a train near the Dutch town of Beilen.

In 1981, Israel annexed the Golan Heights, which it had seized from Syria in 1967.

In 1986, the experimental aircraft Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California on the first nonstop, non-refueled flight around the world.

In 1995, Presidents Alija Izetbegovic of Bosnia, Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia and Franjo Tudjman of Croatia signed the Bosnian peace treaty in Paris.

Ten years ago: A freighter lost power on the Mississippi River and barreled into the Riverwalk complex in New Orleans; miraculously, no one was killed. Teamsters President Ron Carey won election to a second term (however, the results were later overturned and Carey barred from a rerun vote by a court-appointed monitor who ruled that Carey had used union money for his campaign).

Five years ago: Hundreds of U.S. Marines occupied the Kandahar airport, carefully picking through unexploded weaponry and debris left by the Taliban as the U.S. military relocated its main base in southern Afghanistan. George O’Leary resigned as Notre Dame football coach five days after being hired, admitting he’d lied about his academic and athletic background.

One year ago: President Bush defended his decision to wage the Iraq war, even as he acknowledged that “much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong.” The House voted 251-174 to renew the USA Patriot Act. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad escalated his anti-Israeli rhetoric, calling the Holocaust a “myth” used by Europeans to create a Jewish state in the heart of the Islamic world.

Today’s Birthdays: Jazz musician Clark Terry is 86. Former “60 Minutes” executive producer Don Hewitt is 84. Actor-playwright George Furth is 74. Actor Hal Williams is 68. Actress Patty Duke is 60. Pop singer Joyce Vincent-Wilson (Tony Orlando and Dawn) is 60. Entertainment executive Michael Ovitz is 60. Actress Dee Wallace is 58. Rhythm-and-blues singer Ronnie McNeir (The Four Tops) is 57. Rock musician Cliff Williams (AC/DC) is 57. Rock singer-musician Mike Scott (The Waterboys) is 48. Singer-musician Peter “Spider” Stacy (The Pogues) is 48. Actress Cynthia Gibb is 43. Rhythm-and-blues singer Brian Dalyrimple (Soul For Real) is 31. Actress Tammy Blanchard is 30.

Thought for Today: “How the ‘I’ pervades all things!” — William Ellery Channing, American clergyman (1780-1842).