Today in History - Dec. 5

AP News
|
Posted: Dec 05, 2009 12:19 AM

Today is Saturday, Dec. 5, the 339th day of 2009. There are 26 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Dec. 5, 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.

On this date:

In 1776, the first scholastic fraternity in America, Phi Beta Kappa, was organized at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

In 1782, the eighth president of the United States, Martin Van Buren, was born in Kinderhook, N.Y., the first chief executive to be born after American independence.

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 1831, former President John Quincy Adams took his seat as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

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 1955, the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations merged to form the AFL-CIO under its first president, George Meany.

In 1979, feminist Sonia Johnson was formally excommunicated by the Mormon Church because of her outspoken support for the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.

In 1994, Republicans chose Newt Gingrich to be the first GOP speaker of the House in four decades.

Ten years ago: AFL-CIO chief John Sweeney welcomed the collapse of World Trade Organization talks in Seattle, asserting that "No deal is better than a bad deal." Cuban President Fidel Castro demanded that the United States return 5-year-old Elian Gonzalez, who had been rescued at sea, to his father in Cuba within 72 hours.

Five years ago: Gunmen ambushed a bus carrying unarmed Iraqis to work at a U.S. ammo dump near Tikrit, killing 17. Egypt freed an Israeli Arab man convicted of spying in exchange for Israel's release of six Egyptian students who were suspected of trying to kidnap Israeli soldiers. Carlos Moya beat Andy Roddick 6-2, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (5) to clinch Spain's second Davis Cup title.

One year ago: 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. Hundreds of workers laid off on short notice from the Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago began a six-day sit-in. (Republic ultimately agreed to the workers' demands for severance and accrued vacation pay; the factory was later sold to a California company, Serious Materials.) 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. Alexy II, the Russian Orthodox patriarch who'd presided over a vast post-Soviet revival of the faith, died at his residence outside Moscow at age 79. Death claimed actresses Nina Foch at age 84 and Beverly Garland at age 82.

Today's Birthdays: Singer Little Richard is 77. Author Joan Didion is 75. Author Calvin Trillin is 74. Musician J.J. Cale is 71. Actor Jeroen Krabbe is 65. Opera singer Jose Carreras is 63. Pop singer Jim Messina is 62. College Football Hall of Famer Jim Plunkett is 62. World Golf Hall of Famer Lanny Wadkins is 60. Actress Morgan Brittany is 58. Actor Brian Backer is 53. Pro Football Hall of Famer Art Monk is 52. Country singer Ty England is 46. Rock singer-musician John Rzeznik (The Goo Goo Dolls) is 44. Country singer Gary Allan is 42. Comedian-actress Margaret Cho is 41. Writer-director Morgan J. Freeman is 40. Actress Alex Kapp Horner is 40. Rock musician Regina Zernay (Cowboy Mouth) is 37. Actress Paula Patton is 34. Actress Amy Acker is 33. Actor Nick Stahl is 30. R&B singer Keri Hilson is 27. Actor Frankie Muniz is 24. Actor Ross Bagley is 21.

Thought for Today: "All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." _ Walt Disney (born this date in 1901, died 1966).