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Today in History - Dec. 18

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

BC-History-Dec 18, Adv18,0608


For release Monday, Dec. 18

Today in History

By The Associated Press

Today is Monday, Dec. 18, the 352nd day of 2006. There are 13 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 18, 1944, in a pair of rulings, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the wartime relocation of Japanese-Americans, but also said undeniably loyal Americans of Japanese ancestry could not continue to be detained.

On this date:

In 1787, New Jersey became the third state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

In 1865, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery, was declared in effect.

In 1892, Tchaikovsky’s ballet “The Nutcracker” publicly premiered in St. Petersburg, Russia.

In 1940, Adolf Hitler signed a secret directive ordering preparations for a Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. (Operation Barbarossa was launched in June 1941.)

In 1956, Japan was admitted to the United Nations.

In 1956, the controversial movie “Baby Doll,” starring Carroll Baker, was released.

In 1956, the panel game show “To Tell the Truth” debuted on CBS TV.

In 1969, Britain’s Parliament abolished the death penalty for murder.

In 1972, the United States began heavy bombing of North Vietnamese targets during the Vietnam War. (The bombardment ended 12 days later.)

In 1980, former Soviet Premier Alexei N. Kosygin died at age 76.

Ten years ago: FBI agent Earl Edwin Pitts was arrested, accused of selling secrets to the Russians. (Pitts was sentenced in June 1997 to 27 years in prison after admitting that he’d conspired and attempted to commit espionage.) Aides to President Clinton disclosed that Asian-American businessman Charles Yah Lin Trie, who delivered $460,000 dollars in questionable donations to the Clintons’ legal defense fund, had been to the White House at least 23 times since 1993.

Five years ago: A federal judge in Philadelphia threw out Mumia Abu-Jamal’s death sentence and ordered a new sentencing hearing for the former Black Panther alternately portrayed as a vicious cop-killer and a victim of a racist frame-up. (Both sides appealed that ruling, and Abu-Jamal remains on death row.)

One year ago: In a televised speech, President Bush declared that Iraq’s parliamentary elections signaled the birth of democracy in the Middle East. Vice President Cheney made a surprise visit to Iraq. Susanne Osthoff, a German aid worker kidnapped in Iraq, was freed after three weeks in captivity. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a mild stroke.

Today’s Birthdays: Television writer-producer Hal Kanter is 88. Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark is 79. Actor Roger Smith is 74. Blues musician Lonnie Brooks is 73. Rock singer-musician Keith Richards is 63. Writer-director Alan Rudolph is 63. Movie producer-director Steven Spielberg is 60. Blues artist Ron Piazza is 59. Movie director Gillian Armstrong is 56. Movie reviewer Leonard Maltin is 56. Rock musician Elliot Easton is 53. Actor Ray Liotta is 51. Actor Brad Pitt is 43. Country singer Tracy Byrd is

40. Actress Rachel Griffiths is 38. Singer Alejandro Sanz is 38. Country/rap singer Cowboy Troy is 36. Rapper DMX is 36. Tennis player Arantxa Sanchez Vicario is 35. DJ Lethal (Limp Bizkit) is

34. Actress Katie Holmes is 28. Singer Christina Aguilera is 26. Christian rock musician Dave Luetkenhoelter (Kutless) is 24.

Thought for Today: “The price one pays for pursuing any profession, or calling, is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.” — James Baldwin, American author (1924-1987).