Today is Friday, Dec. 14, the 348th day of 2018. There are 17 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 14, 2012, a gunman with a semi-automatic rifle killed 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, then committed suicide as police arrived; the 20-year-old had also fatally shot his mother at their home before carrying out the attack on the school.
On this date:
In 1799, the first president of the United States, George Washington, died at his Mount Vernon, Virginia, home at age 67.
In 1819, Alabama joined the Union as the 22nd state.
In 1911, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and his team became the first men to reach the South Pole, beating out a British expedition led by Robert F. Scott.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson vetoed an immigration measure aimed at preventing "undesirables" and anyone born in the "Asiatic Barred Zone" from entering the U.S. (Congress overrode Wilson's veto in Feb. 1917.)
In 1962, the U.S. space probe Mariner 2 passed Venus at a distance of just over 21,000 miles, transmitting information about the planet, such as its hot surface temperatures and predominantly carbon dioxide atmosphere.
In 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States, ruled that Congress was within its authority to enforce the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against racial discrimination by private businesses (in this case, a motel that refused to cater to blacks).
In 1972, Apollo 17 astronauts Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan concluded their third and final moonwalk and blasted off for their rendezvous with the command module.
In 1981, Israel annexed the Golan Heights, which it had seized from Syria in 1967.
In 1985, Wilma Mankiller became the first woman to lead a major American Indian tribe as she took office as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Former New York Yankees outfielder Roger Maris, who'd hit 61 home runs during the 1961 season, died in Houston at age 51.
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 non-stop, non-refueled flight around the world.
In 1988, President Reagan authorized the U-S to enter into a "substantive dialogue" with the Palestine Liberation Organization, after chairman Yasser Arafat said he was renouncing "all forms of terrorism."
In 2005, President George W. Bush defended his decision to wage the Iraq war, even as he acknowledged that "much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong."
Ten years ago: An Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes at President George W. Bush during a news conference in Baghdad; Bush ducked the flying footwear as they whizzed past his head and landed against the wall behind him. (The shoe-thrower, Muntadhar al-Zeidi, ended up spending nine months in prison.)
Five years ago: Bells tolled 26 times in Newtown, Connecticut, to honor the dead on the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook school massacre. China carried out the world’s first soft landing of a space probe on the moon in nearly four decades as the unmanned Chang’e 3 lander touched down on the lunar surface. Jameis Winston won the Heisman Trophy, making the Florida State quarterback the second straight freshman to win the award, after Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel. Actor Peter O’Toole, 81, who’d achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award without winning, died in London.
One year ago: The Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal the Obama-era "net neutrality" rules, a move that gave internet service providers a free hand to slow or block specific websites and apps as they see fit, or charge more for faster speeds. The most serious charge against James Alex Fields, accused of driving into a crowd protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, was upgraded to first-degree murder; a 32-year-old woman, Heather Heyer, died and dozens were injured.
Thought for Today: “Both now and for always, I intend to hold fast to my belief in the hidden strength of the human spirit.” — Andrei Sakharov (1921-1989).