Today in History
Today is Saturday, Dec. 5, the 340th day of 2020. There are 26 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 5, 2013, Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader who became South Africa’s first Black president, died at age 95.
On this date:
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 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 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 1998, James P. Hoffa claimed the Teamsters presidency after challenger Tom Leedham conceded defeat in the union’s presidential election.
In 2002, Strom Thurmond, the oldest and (until Robert Byrd overtook him) longest-serving senator in history, celebrated his 100th birthday on Capitol Hill. (In toasting the South Carolina lawmaker, Senate Republican leader Trent Lott seemed to express nostalgia for Thurmond’s segregationist past; the resulting political firestorm prompted Lott to resign his leadership position.)
In 2008, 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.)
In 2009, a jury in Perugia, Italy convicted American student Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito (rah-fy-EHL’-ay soh-LEH’-chee-toh), of murdering Knox’s British roommate, Meredith Kercher, and sentenced them to long prison terms. (After a series of back-and-forth rulings, Knox and Sollecito were definitively acquitted in 2015 by Italy’s highest court.) A nightclub blaze in Perm, Russia, killed more than 150 people.
In 2018, former President George H.W. Bush was mourned at a memorial service at Washington National Cathedral attended by President Donald Trump and former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter along with their spouses; former president George W. Bush was among the speakers, eulogizing his dad as “the brightest of a thousand points of light.”
Ten years ago: On the eve of talks with six world powers, Iran announced that it had produced its first batch of locally mined uranium ore for enrichment. The Kennedy Center Honors paid tribute to Paul McCartney, Oprah Winfrey, Merle Haggard, Broadway composer Jerry Herman and dancer Bill T. Jones. Serbia celebrated its first Davis Cup title, becoming only the second unseeded nation to win the trophy when Viktor Troicki beat Michael Llodra 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 to complete a 3-2 comeback win over France. Football player-turned-sportscaster Don Meredith, 72, died in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Five years ago: In the wake of a commando-style shooting rampage by a Muslim extremist couple in Southern California that left 14 people dead, The New York Times called for more gun regulation in its first Page 1 editorial in 95 years; Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. urged students, staff and faculty at his Christian school to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon on campus to counter any copycat attack. A rare pressing of the Beatles’ White Album from Ringo Starr’s record collection sold at auction in New York for $790,000.
One year ago: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she had asked the relevant House committee chairs to begin drawing up articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, saying his actions left them “no choice” but to act swiftly; in response, Trump tweeted that Democrats had “gone crazy.’’ Four people, including a UPS driver, were killed after robbers stole the driver’s truck and led police on a chase that ended in gunfire at a crowded intersection in Miramar, Florida; the two robbers also died along with a motorist who had been waiting at the intersection when officers ran up and opened fire. In a long-anticipated safety report, ride-sharing giant Uber said more than 3,000 sexual assaults had been reported during its U.S. rides in 2018, including 235 rapes.
Today’s Birthdays: Author Joan Didion is 86. Author Calvin Trillin is 85. Actor Jeroen Krabbe (yeh-ROHN’ krah-BAY’) is 76. Opera singer Jose Carreras is 74. Pop singer Jim Messina is 73. College Football Hall of Famer and former NFL quarterback Jim Plunkett is 73. World Golf Hall of Famer Lanny Wadkins is 71. Actor Morgan Brittany is 69. Actor Brian Backer is 64. Pro and College Football Hall of Famer Art Monk is 63. Country singer Ty England is 57. Rock singer-musician John Rzeznik (REZ’-nihk) (The Goo Goo Dolls) is 55. Country singer Gary Allan is 53. Comedian-actor Margaret Cho is 52. Writer-director Morgan J. Freeman is 51. Actor Alex Kapp Horner is 51. Actor Kali Rocha is 49. Rock musician Regina Zernay (Cowboy Mouth) is 48. Actor Paula Patton is 45. Actor Amy Acker is 44. Actor Nick Stahl is 41. Actor Adan Canto is 39. Rhythm-and-blues singer Keri Hilson is 38. Actor Gabriel Luna is 38. Actor Frankie Muniz is 35. Actor Ross Bagley is 32. Milwaukee Brewers All-Star outfielder Christian Yelich is 29.