Today is Wednesday, Dec. 14, the 348th day of 2022. There are 17 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 14, 2020, the Electoral College decisively confirmed Joe Biden as the nation’s next president, ratifying his November victory in a state-by-state repudiation of President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede he had lost; electors gave Biden 306 votes to Trump’s 232. Speaking from Delaware, Biden accused Trump of threatening core principles of democracy, but told Americans that their form of self-government had “prevailed.”
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 1861, Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, died at Windsor Castle at age 42.
In 1911, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen (ROH’-ahl AH’-mun-suhn) and his team became the first men to reach the South Pole, beating out a British expedition led by Robert F. Scott.
In 1939, the Soviet Union was expelled from the League of Nations for invading Finland.
In 1961, a school bus was hit by a passenger train at a crossing near Greeley, Colorado, killing 20 students.
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 1981, Israel annexed the Golan Heights, which it had seized from Syria in 1967.
In 1985, 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 2006, a British police inquiry concluded that the deaths of Princess Diana and her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, in a 1997 Paris car crash were a “tragic accident,” and that allegations of a murder conspiracy were unfounded. Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun died in New York at age 83.
In 2020, the largest vaccination campaign in U.S. history began with health workers getting shots on the same day the nation’s COVID-19 death toll hit 300,000.
Ten years ago: A gunman with a semi-automatic rifle killed 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, then took his own life as police arrived; the 20-year-old had also fatally shot his mother at their home before carrying out the attack on the school.
Five years 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.
One year ago: The House voted to hold former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress after he ceased to cooperate with the Jan. 6 committee investigating the Capitol insurrection. (The Justice Department would decline to prosecute.) A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit that was brought by former President Donald Trump in his attempt to block congressional lawmakers from obtaining his tax returns. The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 topped 800,000, according to the count kept by Johns Hopkins University. Stephen Curry set a new NBA career 3-point record; the Golden State Warriors’ guard hit his 2,974th 3-point shot against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Authorities in South Carolina said an autopsy found unusually severe brain disease in the frontal lobe of Phillip Adams, a former NFL player accused of fatally shooting six people in South Carolina before killing himself in April.
Today’s Birthdays: Singer-actor Abbe Lane is 91. Actor Hal Williams is 88. Actor-singer Jane Birkin is 76. Pop singer Joyce Vincent Wilson (Tony Orlando and Dawn) is 76. Entertainment executive Michael Ovitz is 76. Actor Dee Wallace is 74. R&B singer Ronnie McNeir (The Four Tops) is 73. Rock musician Cliff Williams is 73. Actor-comedian T.K. Carter is 66. Rock singer-musician Mike Scott (The Waterboys) is 64. Singer-musician Peter “Spider” Stacy (The Pogues) is 64. Actor Cynthia Gibb is 59. Actor Nancy Valen is 57. Actor Archie Kao is 53. Actor Natascha McElhone is 53. Actor-comedian Michaela Watkins is 51. Actor-comedian Miranda Hart is 50. R&B singer Brian Dalyrimple (Soul For Real) is 47. Actor KaDee Strickland is 47. Actor Tammy Blanchard is 46. Actor Sophie Monk is 43. Actor-singer-musician Jackson Rathbone is 38. Actor Vanessa Hudgens is 34. Rock/R&B singer Tori Kelly is 30.
Tuesday, Dec. 13, the 347th day of 2022. There are 18 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 13, 2000, Republican George W. Bush claimed the presidency a day after the U.S. Supreme Court shut down further recounts of disputed ballots in Florida; Democrat Al Gore conceded, delivering a call for national unity.
On this date:
In 1862, Union forces led by Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside launched futile attacks against entrenched Confederate soldiers during the Civil War Battle of Fredericksburg; the soundly defeated Northern troops withdrew two days later.
In 1937, the Chinese city of Nanjing fell to Japanese forces during the Sino-Japanese War; what followed was a massacre of war prisoners, soldiers and citizens. (China maintains that up to 300,000 people were killed; Japanese nationalists say the death toll was far lower, and some maintain the massacre never happened.)
In 1981, authorities in Poland imposed martial law in a crackdown on the Solidarity labor movement. (Martial law formally ended in 1983.)
In 1993, the space shuttle Endeavour returned from its mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.
In 1996, the U.N. Security Council chose Kofi Annan (KOH’-fee AN’-nan) of Ghana to become the world body’s seventh secretary-general.
In 2001, the Pentagon publicly released a captured videotape of Osama bin Laden in which the al-Qaida leader said the deaths and destruction achieved by the September 11 attacks exceeded his “most optimistic” expectations.
In 2002, President George W. Bush announced he would take the smallpox vaccine along with U.S. military forces, but was not recommending the potentially risky inoculation for most Americans.
In 2003, Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. forces while hiding in a hole under a farmhouse in Adwar, Iraq, near his hometown of Tikrit.
In 2007, Major League Baseball’s Mitchell Report was released, identifying 85 names to differing degrees in connection with the alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs.
In 2014, thousands of protesters marched in New York, Washington and other U.S. cities to call attention to the killing of unarmed Black men by white police officers who faced no criminal charges.
In 2019, the House Judiciary Committee approved two articles of impeachment accusing President Donald Trump of abuse of power in his dealings with Ukraine and obstruction of Congress in the investigation that followed.
In 2020, the first vials of the Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19 began making their way to distribution sites across the United States.
Ten years ago: U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice withdrew from consideration to replace outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton after running into opposition from Republicans over her explanation of the September attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. (Rice had said the attack stemmed from a spontaneous protest over an anti-Islamic video, an assertion which later proved incorrect.)
Five years ago: Congressional Republicans reached agreement on a major overhaul of the nation’s tax laws that would provide generous tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans; middle- and low-income families would get smaller tax cuts. The New York Times published claims by three women that they had been raped by music mogul Russell Simmons in the 1980s and 1990s; Simmons denied the allegations.
One year ago: The House panel investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection voted to pursue contempt charges against former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows; lawmakers also revealed a series of frantic texts he received as the attack was under way, in which members of Congress, Fox News anchors and even President Donald Trump’s son urged Meadows to push Trump to act quickly to stop the siege by his supporters. (The House voted to hold Meadows in contempt, but the Justice Department declined to prosecute.) The Air Force said it had discharged 27 people for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine; they were believed to be the first service members removed for disobeying the mandate to get the shots. The Supreme Court refused to halt a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for health care workers in New York that did not offer an exemption for religious reasons. The Biden administration released a federal strategy to build 500,000 charging stations for electric vehicles across the country and ultimately transform the U.S. auto industry.
Today’s Birthdays: Actor-comedian Dick Van Dyke is 97. Country singer Buck White is 92. Music/film producer Lou Adler is 89. Singer John Davidson is 81. Actor Kathy Garver (TV: “Family Affair”) is 77. Singer Ted Nugent is 74. Rock musician Jeff “Skunk” Baxter is 74. Actor Robert Lindsay is 73. Country singer-musician Randy Owen is 73. Actor Wendie Malick is 72. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is 72. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is 69. Country singer John Anderson is 68. Singer-songwriter Steve Forbert is 68. Singer-actor Morris Day is 66. Actor Steve Buscemi (boo-SEH’-mee) is 65. Actor Johnny Whitaker (TV: “Family Affair”) is 63. Rock musician John Munson (Semisonic; Twilight Hours) is 60. Actor-reality TV star NeNe Leakes is 56. Actor-comedian Jamie Foxx is 55. Actor Lusia Strus is 55. Actor Bart Johnson is 52. Actor Jeffrey Pierce is 51. TV personality Debbie Matenopoulos is 48. Rock singer-musician Thomas Delonge is 47. Actor James Kyson Lee is 47. Actor Kimee Balmilero (TV: “Hawaii Five-0”) is 43. Actor Chelsea Hertford is 41. Rock singer Amy Lee (Evanescence) is 41. Actor Michael Socha is 35. Actor Marcel Spears (TV: “The Mayor”) is 34. Singer Taylor Swift is 33. Actor Maisy Stella is 19.