Today in History

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Today is Tuesday, Dec. 5, the 339th day of 2017. There are 26 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 5, 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.

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On this date:

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 1831, former President John Quincy Adams took his seat as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 1916, British Prime Minister Herbert H. Asquith resigned (he was succeeded by David Lloyd George).

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 1967, pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock and poet Allen Ginsberg were among more than 260 people arrested during an anti-Vietnam War protest outside an armed forces induction center in lower Manhattan.

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.)

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

In 2013, Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader who became South Africa’s first black president, died at age 95.

Ten years ago: A 19-year-old gunman went on a shooting rampage at the Westroads Mall in Omaha, Nebraska, killing six store employees and two customers before taking his own life. President George W. Bush, in Omaha for a fundraiser, called on Iran to “come clean” about the scope of its nuclear activities or else face diplomatic isolation (Bush left the city about an hour before the mall shooting).

Five years ago: Port clerks ended an eight-day strike at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach after winning guarantees against the outsourcing of jobs. Jazz composer and pianist Dave Brubeck died in Norwalk, Connecticut, a day before he would have turned 92. Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer died in Rio de Janeiro at age 104.

One year ago: President-elect Donald Trump chose retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson to be secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. A judge in Marietta, Georgia, sentenced Justin Ross Harris to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole after a jury found that he intentionally left his 22-month-old son, Cooper, in a hot SUV to die. A South Carolina judge declared a mistrial after a jury deadlocked in the murder trial of a white former police officer charged in the shooting death of an unarmed black motorist. Cindy Stowell, 41, of Austin, Texas, who competed on the TV game show “Jeopardy!” while battling terminal cancer, died eight days before her first episode aired. (Stowell, who won six games and $105,803, had pledged her winnings to cancer research.)

Today’s Birthdays: Singer Little Richard is 85. Author Joan Didion is 83. Author Calvin Trillin is 82. Actor Jeroen Krabbe (yeh-ROHN’ krah-BAY’) is 73. Opera singer Jose Carreras is 71. Pop singer Jim Messina is 70. College Football Hall of Famer and former NFL quarterback Jim Plunkett is 70. World Golf Hall of Famer Lanny Wadkins is 68. Actress Morgan Brittany is 66. Actor Brian Backer is 61. Pro and College Football Hall of Famer Art Monk is 60. Country singer Ty England is 54. Rock singer-musician John Rzeznik (REZ’-nihk) (The Goo Goo Dolls) is 52. Country singer Gary Allan is 50. Comedian-actress Margaret Cho is 49. Writer-director Morgan J. Freeman is 48. Actress Alex Kapp Horner is 48. Rock musician Regina Zernay (Cowboy Mouth) is 45. Actress Paula Patton is 42. Actress Amy Acker is 41. Actor Nick Stahl is 38. Actor Adan Canto is 36. Rhythm-and-blues singer Keri Hilson is 35. Actor Gabriel Luna is 35. Actor Frankie Muniz is 32. Actor Ross Bagley is 29.