Today is Friday, Dec. 18, the 352nd day of 2009. There are 13 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Dec. 18, 1865, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery, was declared in effect by Secretary of State William H. Seward.
On this date:
In 1787, New Jersey became the third state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
In 1892, Tchaikovsky's ballet "The Nutcracker" publicly premiered in St. Petersburg, Russia.
In 1915, President Woodrow Wilson, widowed the year before, married Edith Bolling Galt at her Washington home.
In 1940, Adolf Hitler ordered secret preparations for Nazi Germany to invade the Soviet Union. (Operation Barbarossa was launched in June 1941.)
In 1944, in a pair of rulings, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the wartime relocation of Japanese-Americans, but also said undeniably loyal Americans of Japanese ancestry could not continue to be detained.
In 1957, the Shippingport Atomic Power Station in Pennsylvania, the first public, full-scale commercial nuclear facility to generate electricity in the United States, went on line. (It was taken out of service in 1982.)
In 1958, the world's first communications satellite, SCORE, or Signal Communication by Orbiting Relay Equipment, nicknamed "Chatterbox," was launched by the United States aboard an Atlas rocket.
In 1969, Britain's House of Lords joined the House of Commons in making permanent a 1965 ban on the death penalty for cases of murder.
In 1972, the United States began heavy bombing of North Vietnamese targets during the Vietnam War. (The bombardment ended 11 days later.)
In 1980, former Soviet Premier Alexei N. Kosygin died at age 76.
Ten years ago: In St. Martinville, La., the last of the federal immigration detainees who'd taken a jail warden and three others hostage for almost a week surrendered. After living atop an ancient redwood in Humboldt County, Calif., for two years, environmental activist Julia "Butterfly" Hill came down to earth, ending her anti-logging protest. French film director Robert Bresson died in Paris at age 98.
Five years ago: The former Iraqi general known as "Chemical Ali," Ali Hassan al-Majid, went before a judge in the first investigative hearings of former members of his regime. Former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet was hospitalized after suffering a stroke.
One year ago: A U.N. court in Tanzania convicted former Rwandan army Col. Theoneste Bagosora of genocide and crimes against humanity for masterminding the killings of more than half a million people in a 100-day slaughter in 1994. W. Mark Felt, the former FBI second-in-command who'd revealed himself as "Deep Throat" three decades after the Watergate scandal, died in Santa Rosa, Calif., at age 95. "Star Trek" actress Majel Barrett Roddenberry, widow of series creator Gene Roddenberry, died in Los Angeles at age 76.
Today's Birthdays: Television writer-producer Hal Kanter is 91. Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark is 82. Actor Roger Smith is 77. Blues musician Lonnie Brooks is 76. Actor Roger Mosley is 71. Rock singer-musician Keith Richards is 66. Writer-director Alan Rudolph is 66. Movie producer-director Steven Spielberg is 63. Blues artist Ron Piazza is 62. Movie director Gillian Armstrong is 59. Movie reviewer Leonard Maltin is 59. Rock musician Elliot Easton is 56. Actor Ray Liotta is 54. Comedian Ron White is 53. Actor Brad Pitt is 46. Actor and professional wrestler "Stone Cold" Steve Austin is 45. Actor Shawn Christian is 44. Actress Rachel Griffiths is 41. Singer Alejandro Sanz is 41. Country/rap singer Cowboy Troy is 39. Rapper DMX is 39. Tennis player Arantxa Sanchez Vicario is 38. DJ Lethal (Limp Bizkit) is 37. Actress Katie Holmes is 31. Singer Christina Aguilera is 29. Christian rock musician Dave Luetkenhoelter (Kutless) is 27. Actress Ashley Benson is 20.
Thought for Today: "No one worth possessing can be quite possessed." _ Sara Teasdale, American author and poet (1884-1933).