Today in History

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Today is Wednesday, Dec. 13, the 347th day of 2017. There are 18 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 13, 1937, the Chinese city of Nanjing fell to Japanese forces during the Sino-Japanese War; what followed was a massacre of war prisoners, soldiers and citizens. (China maintains that up to 300,000 people were killed; Japanese nationalists say the death toll was far lower, and some maintain the massacre never happened.)

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On this date:

In 1642, Dutch navigator Abel Tasman sighted present-day New Zealand.

In 1769, Dartmouth College in New Hampshire received its charter.

In 1862, Union forces led by Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside launched futile attacks against entrenched Confederate soldiers during the Civil War Battle of Fredericksburg; the soundly defeated Northern troops withdrew two days later.

In 1918, President Woodrow Wilson arrived in France, becoming the first chief executive to visit Europe while in office.

In 1928, George Gershwin’s “An American in Paris” had its premiere at Carnegie Hall in New York.

In 1944, during World War II, the light cruiser USS Nashville was badly damaged in a Japanese kamikaze attack off Negros Island in the Philippines that claimed 133 lives.

In 1962, the United States launched Relay 1, a communications satellite which retransmitted television, telephone and digital signals.

In 1977, an Air Indiana Flight 216, a DC-3 carrying the University of Evansville basketball team on a flight to Nashville, crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all 29 people on board.

In 1981, authorities in Poland imposed martial law in a crackdown on the Solidarity labor movement. (Martial law formally ended in 1983.)

In 1994, an American Eagle commuter plane crashed short of Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina, killing 15 of the 20 people on board.

In 1996, the U.N. Security Council chose Kofi Annan (KOH’-fee AN’-nan) of Ghana to become the world body’s seventh secretary-general.

In 2003, Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. forces while hiding in a hole under a farmhouse in Adwar, Iraq, near his hometown of Tikrit.

Ten years ago: Democratic presidential hopefuls meeting in Johnston, Iowa, called for higher taxes on the highest-paid Americans and on big corporations in an unusually cordial debate. Rupert Murdoch completed his $5 billion-plus deal to acquire Dow Jones & Co., adding The Wall Street Journal to his global media conglomerate. Major League Baseball’s Mitchell Report was released, identifying 85 names to differing degrees in connection with the alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Five years ago: U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice withdrew from consideration to replace outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton after running into opposition from Republicans over her explanation of the September attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. (Rice had said the attack stemmed from a spontaneous protest over an anti-Islamic video, an assertion which later proved incorrect.)

One year ago: President-elect Donald Trump announced his choice of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be U.S. secretary of state. Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson was named The Associated Press’ college football Player of the Year. Actor Alan Thicke, best remembered as the beloved dad on the ABC series “Growing Pains,” died in Los Angeles at age 69. Lawrence Colburn, a helicopter gunner during the Vietnam War who helped end the slaughter of hundreds of unarmed Vietnamese villagers by U.S. troops at My Lai (mee ly), died in Canton, Georgia, at age 67.

Today’s Birthdays: Former Secretary of State George P. Shultz is 97. Actor-comedian Dick Van Dyke is 92. Actor Christopher Plummer is 88. Country singer Buck White is 87. Music/film producer Lou Adler is 84. Singer John Davidson is 76. Actress Kathy Garver (TV: “Family Affair”) is 72. Singer Ted Nugent is 69. Rock musician Jeff “Skunk” Baxter is 69. Country musician Ron Getman is 69. Actor Robert Lindsay is 68. Country singer-musician Randy Owen is 68. Actress Wendie Malick is 67. Former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is 67. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is 64. Country singer John Anderson is 63. Singer-songwriter Steve Forbert is 63. Singer-actor Morris Day is 61. Actor Steve Buscemi (boo-SEH’-mee) is 60. Actor Johnny Whitaker (TV: “Family Affair”) is 58. Rock musician John Munson (Semisonic; Twilight Hours) is 55. Actress-reality TV star NeNe Leakes is 51. Actor-comedian Jamie Foxx is 50. Actor Bart Johnson is 47. Actor Jeffrey Pierce is 46. TV personality Debbie Matenopoulos is 43. Rock singer-musician Thomas Delonge is 42. Actor James Kyson Lee is 42. Actress Chelsea Hertford is 36. Rock singer Amy Lee (Evanescence) is 36. Actor Michael Socha is 30. Neo-soul musician Wesley Watkins (Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats) is 30. Actor Marcel Spears (TV: “The Mayor”) is 29. Singer Taylor Swift is 28. Actress Maisy Stella is 14.