Today is Wednesday, Dec. 14, the 348th day of 2011. There are 17 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Dec. 14, 1911, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen (ROH'-ahl AH'-mun-suhn) and his team became the first men to reach the South Pole, beating out a British expedition led by Robert F. Scott.
On this date:
In 1799, the first president of the United States, George Washington, died at his Mount Vernon, Va., home at age 67.
In 1819, Alabama joined the Union as the 22nd state.
In 1861, Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, died at Windsor Castle at age 42.
In 1936, the comedy "You Can't Take It With You" by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart opened on Broadway.
In 1946, the United Nations General Assembly voted to establish U.N. headquarters in New York.
In 1961, a school bus was hit by a passenger train at a crossing near Greeley, Colo., killing 20 students.
In 1975, six South Moluccan extremists surrendered after holding 23 hostages for 12 days on a train near the Dutch town of Beilen (BY'-luhn).
In 1981, Israel annexed the Golan Heights, which it had seized from Syria in 1967.
In 1985, Wilma Mankiller became the first woman to lead a major American Indian tribe as she took office as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.
In 1986, the experimental aircraft Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California on the first non-stop, non-refueled flight around the world.
Ten years ago: Hundreds of U.S. Marines occupied the Kandahar airport, carefully picking through unexploded weaponry and debris left by the Taliban as the U.S. military relocated its main base in southern Afghanistan. George O'Leary resigned as Notre Dame football coach five days after being hired, admitting he'd lied about his academic and athletic background.
Five years ago: South Korea's Ban Ki-moon was sworn in as the eighth secretary-general of the United Nations. A British police inquiry concluded that the deaths of Princess Diana and her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, in a 1997 Paris car crash were a "tragic accident," and that allegations of a murder conspiracy were unfounded. Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun died in New York at age 83. Actor Mike Evans, who'd played Lionel Jefferson on "All in the Family" and "The Jeffersons," died in Twentynine Palms, Calif., at age 57.
One year ago: The White House insisted the implementation of President Barack Obama's landmark health care law would not be affected by a negative federal court ruling, and the Justice Department said it would appeal. Gunman Clay A. Duke fired at school board members in Panama City, Fla., but hit no one before fatally shooting himself. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi scrapped through two parliamentary votes of no confidence.
Today's Birthdays: Jazz musician Clark Terry is 91. Singer-actress Abbe Lane is 80. Actor Hal Williams is 73. Actress-singer Jane Birkin is 65. Actress Patty Duke is 65. Pop singer Joyce Vincent-Wilson (Tony Orlando and Dawn) is 65. Entertainment executive Michael Ovitz is 65. Actress Dee Wallace is 63. Rhythm-and-blues singer Ronnie McNeir (The Four Tops) is 62. Rock musician Cliff Williams (AC/DC) is 62. Actor-comedian T.K. Carter is 55. Rock singer-musician Mike Scott (The Waterboys) is 53. Singer-musician Peter "Spider" Stacy (The Pogues) is 53. Actress Cynthia Gibb is 48. Actress Natascha McElhone is 42. Actress-comedian Michaela Watkins is 40. Rhythm-and-blues singer Brian Dalyrimple (Soul For Real) is 36. Actress KaDee Strickland is 36. Actress Tammy Blanchard is 35. Actress Sophie Monk is 32. Actress Vanessa Hudgens is 23.
Thought for Today: "The trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be." _ Paul Valery, French philosopher (1871-1945).
(Above Advance for Use Wednesday, Dec. 14)
Copyright 2011, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.