Wednesday, Dec. 5, the 339th day of 2018. There are 26 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 5, 1994, Republicans chose Newt Gingrich to be the first GOP speaker of the House in four decades.

On this date:

In 1776, the first scholastic fraternity in America, Phi Beta Kappa, was organized at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

In 1782, the eighth president of the United States, Martin Van Buren, was born in Kinderhook, New York; he was the first chief executive to be born after American independence.

In 1791, composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died in Vienna, Austria, at age 35.

In 1792, George Washington was re-elected president; John Adams was re-elected vice president.

In 1848, President James K. Polk triggered the Gold Rush of ‘49 by confirming that gold had been discovered in California.

In 1901, movie producer Walt Disney was born in Chicago.

In 1932, German physicist Albert Einstein was granted a visa, making it possible for him to travel to the United States.

In 1933, national Prohibition came to an end as Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, repealing the 18th Amendment.

In 1945, five U.S. Navy torpedo bombers mysteriously disappeared after taking off from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on a training mission with the loss of all 14 crew members; “The Lost Squadron” contributed to the legend of the Bermuda Triangle.

In 1952, the Great Smog of London descended on the British capital; the unusually thick fog, which contained toxic pollutants, lasted five days and was blamed for causing thousands of deaths.

In 1977, Egypt broke diplomatic relations with Syria, Libya, Algeria, Iraq and South Yemen in the wake of criticism that followed President Anwar Sadat’s peace overtures to Israel.

In 1988, a federal grand jury in North Carolina indicted PTL founder Jim Bakker and former aide Richard Dortch on fraud and conspiracy charges. (Bakker was convicted on all counts; Dortch pleaded guilty to four counts and cooperated with prosecutors in exchange for a lighter sentence. Bakker was initially sentenced to 45 years in prison; the term was eventually reduced to eight years, and he served a total of about five.)

Ten years ago: The Labor Department reported that an alarming half-million jobs had vanished in Nov. 2008 as unemployment hit a 15-year high of 6.7 percent. A judge in Las Vegas sentenced O.J. Simpson to 33 years in prison (with eligibility for parole after nine) for an armed robbery at a hotel room. (Simpson was released to parole on Oct. 1, 2017.) Death claimed actresses Nina Foch at age 84 and Beverly Garland at age 82.

Five years ago: Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader who became South Africa’s first black president, died at age 95.

One year ago: Democratic congressman John Conyers of Michigan resigned from Congress after a nearly 53-year career, becoming the first Capitol Hill politician to lose his job amid the sexual misconduct allegations sweeping through the nation’s workplaces. In a bitterly contested runoff election, Atlanta voters narrowly chose Keisha Lance Bottoms as the city’s next mayor; a result that would be upheld after a recount requested by rival Mary Norwood. The International Olympic Committee barred Russia and its sports leaders from the upcoming Winter Olympics in South Korea after concluding that members of the Russian government concocted a doping scheme at the 2014 Sochi Games; some Russians would be able to compete as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.”

Today’s Birthdays: Singer Little Richard is 86. Author Joan Didion is 84. Author Calvin Trillin is 83. Actor Jeroen Krabbe (yeh-ROHN’ krah-BAY’) is 74. Opera singer Jose Carreras is 72. Pop singer Jim Messina is 71. College Football Hall of Famer and former NFL quarterback Jim Plunkett is 71. World Golf Hall of Famer Lanny Wadkins is 69. Actress Morgan Brittany is 67. Actor Brian Backer is 62. Pro and College Football Hall of Famer Art Monk is 61. Country singer Ty England is 55. Rock singer-musician John Rzeznik (REZ’-nihk) (The Goo Goo Dolls) is 53. Country singer Gary Allan is 51. Comedian-actress Margaret Cho is 50. Writer-director Morgan J. Freeman is 49. Actress Alex Kapp Horner is 49. Actress Kali Rocha is 47. Rock musician Regina Zernay (Cowboy Mouth) is 46. Actress Paula Patton is 43. Actress Amy Acker is 42. Actor Nick Stahl is 39. Actor Adan Canto is 37. Rhythm-and-blues singer Keri Hilson is 36. Actor Gabriel Luna is 36. Actor Frankie Muniz is 33. Actor Ross Bagley is 30.

Thought for Today: “I’ve never been poor, only broke. Being poor is a frame of mind. Being broke is only a temporary situation.” — Mike Todd, American movie producer (1907-1958).

* * *

Today is Thursday, Dec. 6, the 340th day of 2018. There are 25 days left in the year.

Today's Highlights in History:

On Dec. 6, 1907, the worst mining disaster in U.S. history occurred as 362 men and boys died in a coal mine explosion in Monongah, West Virginia.

On this date:

In 1790, Congress moved to Philadelphia from New York.

In 1865, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, abolishing slavery, was ratified as Georgia became the 27th state to endorse it.

In 1884, Army engineers completed construction of the Washington Monument by setting an aluminum capstone atop the obelisk.

In 1917, some 2,000 people were killed when an explosives-laden French cargo ship, the Mont Blanc, collided with the Norwegian vessel Imo at the harbor in Halifax, Nova Scotia, setting off a blast that devastated the Canadian city. Finland declared its independence from Russia.

In 1923, a presidential address was broadcast on radio for the first time as President Coolidge spoke to a joint session of Congress.

In 1947, Everglades National Park in Florida was dedicated by President Harry S. Truman.

In 1957, America's first attempt at putting a satellite into orbit failed as Vanguard TV3 rose about four feet off a Cape Canaveral launch pad before crashing down and exploding.

In 1973, House minority leader Gerald R. Ford was sworn in as vice president, succeeding Spiro T. Agnew.

In 1982, 11 soldiers and six civilians were killed when an Irish National Liberation Army bomb exploded at a pub in Ballykelly, Northern Ireland.

In 1989, 14 women were shot to death at the University of Montreal's school of engineering by a man who then took his own life.

In 1998, in Venezuela, former Lt. Col. Hugo Chavez (OO'-goh CHAH'-vez), who had staged a bloody coup attempt against the government six years earlier, was elected president.

In 2001, The House of Representatives, by a one-vote margin, gave President George W. Bush more power to negotiate global trade deals. President Bush dedicated the national Christmas tree to those who had died on Sept. 11 and to service members who had died in the line of duty.

Ten years ago: President-elect Barack Obama said in a Saturday radio and Internet address that he'd asked his economic team for a recovery plan that would save or create more than 2 million jobs. Indicted Democratic U.S. Rep. William Jefferson was ousted from his New Orleans area district in a special election won by Republican attorney Anh "Joseph" Cao, who became the first Vietnamese-American in Congress. Heiress Martha "Sunny" von Bulow, who'd spent the last 28 years of her life in a coma, died in New York City at age 76.

Five years ago: A day after Nelson Mandela's death at 95, South Africans of all colors erupted in song, dance and tears in emotional celebrations of the life of the man who had bridged the country's black-white divide and helped avert a race war. The Fender Stratocaster that Bob Dylan played at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival was sold at Christie's for nearly $1 million — the highest price ever paid for a guitar at auction.

One year ago: President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem to be Israel's capital, defying warnings from the Palestinians and others around the world that he would be destroying hopes for Mideast peace. Time magazine named as its Person of the Year the "Silence Breakers" - those who had shared their stories about sexual assault and harassment. A wildfire erupted in the exclusive Bel-Air section of Los Angeles, the latest neighborhood of Southern California to find itself under siege from an outbreak of wind-driven blazes. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he would seek re-election, putting him on track to become Russia's longest-serving ruler since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

Today's Birthdays: Comedy performer David Ossman is 82. Actor Patrick Bauchau is 80. Country singer Helen Cornelius is 77. Actor James Naughton is 73. Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is 73. Rhythm-and-blues singer Frankie Beverly (Maze) is 72. Former Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., is 70. Actress JoBeth Williams is 70. Actor Tom Hulce is 65. Actor Wil Shriner is 65. Actor Kin Shriner is 65. Actor Miles Chapin is 64. Rock musician Rick Buckler (The Jam) is 63. Comedian Steven Wright is 63. Country singer Bill Lloyd is 63. Singer Tish Hinojosa is 63. Rock musician Peter Buck (R.E.M.) is 62. Rock musician David Lovering (Pixies) is 57. Actress Janine Turner is 56. Rock musician Ben Watt (Everything But The Girl) is 56. Writer-director Judd Apatow is 51. Rock musician Ulf "Buddha" Ekberg (Ace of Base) is 48. Writer-director Craig Brewer is 47. Actress Colleen Haskell is 42. Actress Lindsay Price is 42. Actress Ashley Madekwe is 37. Actress Nora Kirkpatrick is 34. Christian rock musician Jacob Chesnut (Rush of Fools) is 29. Tennis player CoCo Vandeweghe is 27. Football quarterback Johnny Manziel is 26.

Thought for Today: "Disconnecting from change does not recapture the past. It loses the future." — Kathleen Norris, American author (1880-1960).

Load comments