Today in History - Dec. 3

AP News
Posted: Dec 03, 2009 6:58 AM

Today is Thursday, Dec. 3, the 337th day of 2009. There are 28 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Dec. 3, 1984, thousands of people died after a cloud of methyl isocyanate gas escaped from a pesticide plant operated by a Union Carbide subsidiary in Bhopal, India.

On this date:

In 1818, Illinois was admitted as the 21st state.

In 1828, Andrew Jackson was elected president of the United States by the Electoral College.

In 1833, Oberlin College in Ohio _ the first truly coeducational school of higher learning in the United States _ began holding classes.

In 1925, Concerto in F by George Gershwin had its world premiere at New York's Carnegie Hall, with Gershwin himself at the piano.

In 1947, the Tennessee Williams play "A Streetcar Named Desire" opened on Broadway.

In 1953, the musical "Kismet" opened on Broadway.

In 1960, the musical "Camelot" opened on Broadway.

In 1967, surgeons in Cape Town, South Africa led by Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed the first human heart transplant on Louis Washkansky, who lived 18 days with the new heart. The 20th Century Limited, the famed luxury train, completed its final run from New York to Chicago.

In 1979, 11 people were killed in a crush of fans at Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium, where The Who were performing.

In 1992, the Greek tanker Aegean Sea spilled 21.5 million gallons of crude oil when it ran aground off northwestern Spain.

Ten years ago: World Trade Organization talks collapsed in Seattle. Six firefighters died while battling a fire in an abandoned Worcester, Mass., industrial building. Scientists failed to make contact with the Mars Polar Lander after it began its fiery descent toward the Red Planet; the spacecraft is presumed destroyed. Tori Murden of the United States became the first woman to row across the Atlantic Ocean alone as she arrived at the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, 81 days after leaving the Canary Islands near the coast of Africa. Billionaire banker Edmond Safra suffocated in a smoke-filled bathroom in his Monaco apartment; American nurse Ted Maher confessed to setting the fire that killed the 67-year-old Safra. Oscar-nominated actress Madeline Kahn died at age 57.

Five years ago: It was announced that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was staying on the job. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson resigned, warning as he left of a possible terror attack on the nation's food supply. The Ukraine Supreme Court ordered a rerun of the head-to-head presidential contest, setting off rejoicing by supporters of Western-leaning Viktor Yushchenko, who ended up the winner.

One year ago: President-elect Barack Obama selected New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as his commerce secretary. (Richardson withdrew a month later when it appeared his confirmation hearings would be complicated by a grand jury investigation over how state contracts were issued to political donors; Gary Locke replaced him at commerce.) Theological conservatives upset by liberal views of U.S. Episcopalians and Canadian Anglicans formed a rival North American province.

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Today's Birthdays: Country singer Ferlin Husky is 84. Singer Andy Williams is 82. Movie director Jean-Luc Godard is 79. Singer Jaye P. Morgan is 78. Actor Nicolas Coster is 76. Actress Mary Alice is 68. Rock singer Ozzy Osbourne is 61. Actress Heather Menzies is 60. Rock singer Mickey Thomas is 60. Country musician Paul Gregg (Restless Heart) is 55. Actor Steven Culp is 54. Actress Daryl Hannah is 49. Actress Julianne Moore is 49. Olympic gold medal figure skater Katarina Witt is 44. Actor Brendan Fraser is 41. Singer Montell Jordan is 41. Actor Royale Watkins is 40. Actor Bruno Campos is 36. Actress Holly Marie Combs is 36. Actress Lauren Roman is 34. Pop-rock singer Daniel Bedingfield is 30. Actress Anna Chlumsky is 29. Actor Brian Bonsall is 28. Actress Amanda Seyfried is 24. Actor Michael Angarano is 22. Actor Jake T. Austin is 15.

Thought for Today: "It is right noble to fight with wickedness and wrong; the mistake is in supposing that spiritual evil can be overcome by physical means." _ Lydia Maria Child, American author (1802-1880).