Today In History...

In 1538 Pope Paul III excommunicates England's King Henry VIII.

In 1777 France is the first nation to recognize American independence.

In 1790 An Aztec calendar stone is discovered in Mexico City.

In 1791 A New York City traffic regulation creates the first one-way street.

In 1830 South American patriot Simon Bolivar dies in Colombia.

In 1843 Charles Dickens' classic "A Christmas Carol" is published.

In 1892 The dress rehearsal for "The Nutcracker Suite" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky is staged in St. Petersburg, Russia, in the presence of Czar Alexander II.

In 1903 At 10:35am, for 12 seconds, the first sustained motorized aircraft flight is made by the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, NC.

In 1933 In the first world championship football game, the Chicago Bears defeat the New York Giants 23-21.

In 1939 The German pocket battleship Graf Spee is scuttled by its crew, ending the World War II Battle of the River Plate off Uruguay.

In 1944 The U.S. army announces it would end its policy of excluding Japanese-Americans from the West Coast.

In 1954 The first fully automated railroad freight yard opens in Gary, IN.

In 1957 The United States successfully test-fires the Atlas intercontinental ballistic missle for the first time.

In 1959 The first movie to open simultaneously in major cities.

In 1964 13 USAF skydivers set the parachute freefall record at 41,000 feet.

In 1969 The U.S. Air Force closes its Project "Blue Book" by concluding there was no evidence of extra-terrestrial spaceships behind thousands of UFO sightings.

In 1975 Lynette Fromme is setenced to life in prision by a Sacramento, CA, federal court, for her attempt on the life of President Gerald Ford.

In 1979 The "Budweiser Rocket" set the unofficial land speed record at 739 m.p.h.

In 1979 In a case that aggravated racial tensions, Arthur McDuffie, a black insurance executive, is fatally beaten after a police chase in Miami. (Four white police officers are later acquitted of charges stemming from McDuffie's death.

In 1983 A bomb planted by the IRA explodes and kills six in London, England.

In 1985 The U.S. House of Representatives approves President Reagan's tax-overhaul initiative, sending it to the Senate for its consideration.

In 1986 Eugene Hasenfus, convicted by Nicaragua for running guns to the Contras, is pardoned and released.

In 1988 Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir calls the U.S. decision to open direct talks with the PLO a "painful" blow.

In 1989 Boise police recover a stolen marble statue of Jesus "being used as a hat rack," a year after it was stolen from a local church.

In 1990 President Bush nominates former Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander to be Secretary of Education, succeeding Lauro Cavazos.

In 1991 Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev agree to dissolve the Soviet Union by new year.

In 1992 President-elect Clinton taps former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros to be Secretary of Housing.

In 1992 President George Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari sign the North American Free Trade Agreement in separate ceremonies.

In 1993 Fox Television outbids CBS for the National Football Conference TV package.

In 1993 Jack Kevorkian, the so-called "suicide doctor" is released from jail in Oakland County, MI, after promising not to help anyone end their lives for the time being.

In 1994 North Korea shoots down a U.S. Army helicopter which had strayed north of the demilitarized zone. The co-pilot, Chief Warrant Officer David Hilemon, was killed. The pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Bobby Hall, was captured and held for nearly two weeks.

In 1994 Six shots are fired at the White House by an unidentified gunman.

In 1996 Angry voters hand Russian President Boris Yeltsin a stinging rebuff as Communists and right-wing nationalists scored big wins in elections on a platform of rolling back democratic reforms.

In 1996 Peruvian guerrillas take hundreds hostage at the Japanese embassy in Lima. (All but 72 hostages were later released)

In 1996 Six Red Cross workers are slain by gunmen in Chechnya.

In 1996 Kofi Annan of Ghana was appointed United Nations secretary-general.

In 1997 The U.S. and 33 other countries sign a convention in Paris aimed at eradicating bribery in international business.

In 1997 President Clinton's panel on race relations meets at Annandale High School in Virginia.

In 1999 President Clinton signs a law allowing millions of disabled Americans retain their government-funded health coverage when they take a job.

In 2000 President-elect Bush names Stanford professor Condoleezza Rice as his national security adviser and Texas Supreme Court Justice Alberto Gonzales to the White House counsel's job.

In 2001 Marines raise the Stars and Stripes over the long-abandoned American Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.

In 2002 Playwright Frederick Knott, who wrote "Dial M For Murder" and "Wait Until Dark," dies in New York City at age 86.

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