Today in History: Dec. 12

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UNDATED (AP) Tuesday, Dec. 12, is the 346th day of 2017.

  • Highlights in History:
    • On Dec. 12, 1917, during World War I, a train carrying some 1,000 French troops from the Italian front derailed while descending a steep hill in Modane; at least half of the soldiers were killed in France’s greatest rail disaster.
    • Also in 1917, Father Edward Flanagan founded Boys Town outside Omaha, Nebraska.
  • On this date:
    • In 1787, Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
    • In 1897, The Katzenjammer Kids, the pioneering comic strip created by Rudolph Dirks, made its debut in the New York Journal.
    • In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt nominated Oscar Straus to be Secretary of Commerce and Labor; Straus became the first Jewish Cabinet member.
    • In 1925, the first motel — the Motel Inn — opened in San Luis Obispo, California.
    • In 1937, Japanese aircraft sank the U.S. gunboat Panay on China’s Yangtze River. (Japan apologized, and paid $2.2 million in reparations.)
    • In 1946, a United Nations committee voted to accept a six-block tract of Manhattan real estate offered as a gift by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to be the site of the U.N.’s headquarters.
    • In 1947, the United Mine Workers union disaffiliated from the American Federation of Labor.
    • In 1963, Kenya became independent of Britain.
    • In 1977, the dance movie Saturday Night Fever, a Paramount Pictures release starring John Travolta, premiered in New York.
    • In 1985, 248 American soldiers and eight crew members were killed when an Arrow Air charter crashed after takeoff from Gander, Newfoundland.
    • In 1997, Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, the international terrorist known as “Carlos the Jackal,” went on trial in Paris on charges of killing two French investigators and a Lebanese national. (Ramirez was convicted, and is serving a life prison sentence.)
    • In 2000, George W. Bush became president-elect as a divided U.S. Supreme Court reversed a state court decision for recounts in Florida’s contested election.
  • Ten years ago:
    • Republican presidential rivals gathered in Johnston, Iowa, called for deep cuts in federal spending in a debate remarkably free of acrimony.
    • President George W. Bush vetoed a second bill that would have expanded government-provided health insurance for children.
    • Ike Turner, the rock pioneer and ex-husband of Tina Turner, died in San Marcos, California, at age 76.
  • Five years ago:
    • North Koreans danced in the streets of their capital, Pyongyang, after the regime of Kim Jong Un succeeded in firing a long-range rocket in defiance of international warnings.
    • Pope Benedict XVI sent his first tweet from his new account; it read, “Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.”
  • One year ago:
    • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., endorsed investigations into the CIA’s belief that Russia had meddled in the November election to help Donald Trump win, a claim the president-elect called “ridiculous.”
  • Birthdays:
    • Former TV host Bob Barker is 94.
    • Basketball Hall of Famer Bob Pettit is 85.
    • Singer Connie Francis is 80.
    • Singer Dionne Warwick is 77.
    • Rock singer-musician Dickey Betts is 74.
    • Hall of Fame race car driver Emerson Fittipaldi is 71.
    • Actor Wings Hauser is 70.
    • Actor Bill Nighy is 68.
    • Actor Duane Chase (Film: The Sound of Music) is 67.
    • Country singer LaCosta is 67.
    • Gymnast-turned-actress Cathy Rigby is 65.
    • Author Lorna Landvik is 63.
    • Singer-musician Sheila E. is 60.
    • Actress Sheree J. Wilson is 59.
    • Pop singer Daniel O’Donnell is 56.
    • International Tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin is 55.
    • Rock musician Eric Schenkman (Spin Doctors) is 54.
    • Rock musician Nicholas Dimichino (Nine Days) is 50.
    • Author Sophie Kinsella is 48.
    • News anchor Maggie Rodriguez is 48.
    • Actress Jennifer Connelly is 47.
    • Actress Madchen Amick is 47.
    • Actress Regina Hall is 47.
    • Country singer Hank Williams III is 45.
    • Actress Mayim Bialik is 42.
    • Model Bridget Hall is 40.
    • Actor Lucas Hedges (Film: Manchester by the Sea) is 21.
    • Actress Sky Katz (TV: Raven’s Home) is 13.
  • Thought for the Day:
    • “Experience has taught me that the only cruelties people condemn are those with which they do not happen to be familiar.” — Ellen Glasgow, American author (1874-1945).
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