Today is Thursday, Dec. 17, the 352nd day of 2020. There are 14 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
- On Dec. 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright of Dayton, Ohio, conducted the first successful manned powered-airplane flights near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, using their experimental craft, the Wright Flyer.
On this date:
- In 1777, France recognized American independence.
- In 1933, in the inaugural NFL championship football game, the Chicago Bears defeated the New York Giants, 23-21, at Wrigley Field.
- In 1938, German chemists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann discovered nuclear fission by splitting the nuclei of uranium into lighter elements.
- In 1944, the U.S. War Department announced it was ending its policy of excluding people of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast.
- In 1975, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme was sentenced in Sacramento, Calif. to life in prison for her attempt on the life of President Gerald R. Ford. (She was paroled in Aug. 2009.)
- In 1979, Arthur McDuffie, a Black insurance executive, was fatally injured after leading police on a chase with his motorcycle in Miami. (Four white police officers accused of beating McDuffie were later acquitted, sparking riots.)
- In 1989, the animated TV series “The Simpsons” premiered on Fox with a Christmas-themed episode.
- In 1992, President George H.W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari signed the North American Free Trade Agreement in separate ceremonies. (After President Donald Trump demanded a new deal, the three countries signed a replacement agreement in 2018.)
- In 2001, Marines raised the Stars and Stripes over the long-abandoned American Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.
- In 2007, Gov. Jon S. Corzine signed a measure making New Jersey the first state to abolish the death penalty in more than 40 years.
- In 2011, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died after more than a decade of iron rule; he was 69, according to official records, but some reports indicated he was 70.
- In 2014, the United States and Cuba restored diplomatic relations, sweeping away one of the last vestiges of the Cold War.
Today’s Birthdays: Political commentator Chris Matthews is 75. Comedian-actor Eugene Levy is 74. Actor Marilyn Hassett is 73. Actor Wes Studi is 73. Pop musician Jim Bonfanti (The Raspberries) is 72. Actor Joel Brooks is 71. Rock singer Paul Rodgers is 71. Rhythm-and-blues singer Wanda Hutchinson Vaughn (The Emotions) is 69. Actor Bill Pullman is 67. Actor Barry Livingston is 67. Country singer Sharon White is 67. Producer-director-writer Peter Farrelly is 64. Rock musician Mike Mills (R.E.M.) is 62. Pop singer Sarah Dallin (Bananarama) is 59. Country singer Tracy Byrd is 54. Country musician Duane Propes is 54. Actor Laurie Holden is 51. DJ Homicide (Sugar Ray) is 50. Actor Sean Patrick Thomas is 50. Actor Claire Forlani is 49. Pop-rock musician Eddie Fisher (OneRepublic) is 47. Actor Sarah Paulson is 46. Actor Marissa Ribisi is 46. Actor Giovanni Ribisi is 46. Actor Milla Jovovich is 45. Singer Bree Sharp is 45. Singer-songwriter Ben Goldwasser (MGMT) is 38. Rock singer Mikky Ekko is 37. Actor Shannon Woodward is 36. Actor Emma Bell is 34. Actor Vanessa Zima is 34. Rock musician Taylor York (Paramore) is 31. Actor Graham Rogers is 30. Actor-singer Nat Wolff is 26.