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Today in History for Dec. 29, 2012

Today is Saturday, Dec. 29, the 364th day of 2012. There are two days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight:

On Dec. 29, 1972, Eastern Air Lines Flight 401, a Lockheed L-1011 Tristar, crashed into the Florida Everglades near Miami International Airport, killing 101 of the 176 people aboard. (Investigators determined that the crew was distracted by a burned-out indicator light, and failed to notice that the autopilot had become disengaged, sending the plane into a slow descent leading to the late-night crash.)

On this date:

In 1170, Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was slain in Canterbury Cathedral by knights loyal to King Henry II.

In 1808, the 17th president of the United States, Andrew Johnson, was born in Raleigh, N.C.

In 1812, during the War of 1812, the American frigate USS Constitution engaged and severely damaged the British frigate HMS Java off Brazil.

In 1845, Texas was admitted as the 28th state.

In 1890, the Wounded Knee massacre took place in South Dakota as an estimated 300 Sioux Indians were killed by U.S. troops sent to disarm them.

In 1916, Grigory Rasputin, the so-called “Mad Monk” who’d wielded great influence with Czar Nicholas II, was killed by a group of Russian noblemen in St. Petersburg.

In 1934, Japan formally renounced the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922.

In 1940, during World War II, Germany dropped incendiary bombs on London, setting off what came to be known as “The Second Great Fire of London.”

In 1957, singers Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme were married in Las Vegas.

In 1975, a bomb exploded in the main terminal of New York’s LaGuardia Airport, killing 11 people.

In 1986, former British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan died at his home south of London at age 92.

In 1992, David and Sharon Schoo of St. Charles, Ill., were arrested at O’Hare International Airport upon their return from a Mexican vacation for leaving their 4- and 9-year-old daughters at home, alone. (The Schoos pleaded guilty to child neglect and were sentenced to probation; the children were put up for adoption.)

Ten years ago: Secretary of State Colin Powell, making the rounds of the Sunday TV talk shows, said there was still time to find a diplomatic resolution to North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons, and that the situation hadn’t yet reached the crisis stage.

Five years ago: Australian David Hicks, the first person convicted at an American war crimes trial since World War II, was freed from prison in Adelaide after completing a U.S.-imposed sentence. Pakistan rejected foreign help in investigating the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. The New England Patriots ended their regular season with a remarkable 16-0 record following a 38-35 comeback victory over the New York Giants. (New England became the first NFL team since the 1972 Dolphins to win every game on the schedule.)

One year ago: Fed-up voters in Jamaica threw out the ruling party and delivered a landslide triumph to the opposition People’s National Party and its leader, former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller. The No. 15 Baylor Bears, led by Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, pulled out an incredible Alamo Bowl victory in the highest-scoring regulation bowl game in history, beating the Washington Huskies 67-56 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

Today’s birthdays: Actress Inga Swenson is 80. ABC newscaster Tom Jarriel is 78. Actress Mary Tyler Moore is 76. Actress Barbara Steele is 75. Actor Jon Voight is 74. Country singer Ed Bruce is 73. Rock musician Ray Thomas is 71. Singer Marianne Faithfull is 66. Jockey Laffit Pincay, Jr. is 66. Actor Ted Danson is 65. Actor Jon Polito is 62. Singer-actress Yvonne Elliman is 61. Actress Patricia Clarkson is 53. Comedian Paula Poundstone is 53. Rock singer-musician Jim Reid (The Jesus and Mary Chain) is 51. Actor Michael Cudlitz is 48. Rock singer Dexter Holland (The Offspring) is 47. Actor-comedian Mystro Clark is 46. Actor Jason Gould is 46. Movie director Andy Wachowski is 45. Actress Jennifer Ehle is 43. Actor Patrick Fischler is 43. Rock singer-musician Glen Phillips is 42. Actor Kevin Weisman is 42. Actor Jude Law is 40. Actor Mekhi Phifer is 38. Actor Shawn Hatosy is 37. Actress Katherine Moennig is 35. Actor Diego Luna is 33. Country singer Jessica Andrews is 29.

Thought for today: “Ours is the age of substitutes: Instead of language we have jargon; instead of principles, slogans; and instead of genuine ideas, bright suggestions.” — Eric Bentley, British-born American author and educator.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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