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Today in History for Dec. 8, 2012

Today is Saturday, Dec. 8, the 343rd day of 2012. There are 23 days left in the year. The Jewish Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, begins at sunset.

Today’s Highlight:

On Dec. 8, 1941, the United States entered World War II as Congress declared war against Japan, a day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

On this date:

In 1776, during the Revolutionary War, Gen. George Washington’s retreating army crossed the Delaware River from New Jersey into Pennsylvania.

In 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the Catholic dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which holds that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was free of original sin from the moment of her own conception.

In 1886, the American Federation of Labor was founded in Columbus, Ohio.

In 1914, “Watch Your Step,” the first musical revue to feature a score composed entirely by Irving Berlin, opened in New York.

In 1949, the Chinese Nationalist government moved from the Chinese mainland to Formosa as the Communists pressed their attacks.

In 1961, a fire at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut resulted in 16 deaths. The Beach Boys’ first single, “Surfin’,” was released.

In 1962, the first session of the Second Vatican Council was formally adjourned. Typographers went on a 114-day strike against four New York City newspapers.

In 1972, a United Airlines Boeing 737 crashed while attempting to land at Chicago-Midway Airport, killing 43 of the 61 people on board, as well as two people on the ground; among the passengers who died were Dorothy Hunt, wife of Watergate conspirator E. Howard Hunt, U.S. Rep. George W. Collins, D-Ill., and CBS News correspondent Michele Clark.

In 1980, rock star John Lennon was shot to death outside his New York City apartment building by an apparently deranged fan.

In 1982, a man demanding an end to nuclear weapons held the Washington Monument hostage, threatening to blow it up with explosives he claimed were inside a van. (After a 10-hour standoff, Norman D. Mayer was shot dead by police; it turned out there were no explosives.)

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev signed a treaty at the White House calling for destruction of intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

In 1992, Americans got to see live television coverage of U.S. troops landing on the beaches of Somalia as Operation Restore Hope began (because of the time difference, it was early Dec. 9 in Somalia).

Ten years ago: Iraq’s massive dossier detailing its chemical, biological and nuclear programs arrived in New York; the U.N. Security Council agreed to give full copies to the United States and the four other permanent council members: Britain, France, Russia and China.

Five years ago: The Justice Department and CIA announced a joint inquiry into the spy agency’s destruction of videotapes of interrogations of two suspected terrorists. Talk show host Oprah Winfrey publicly endorsed Barack Obama for president during appearances in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Skiers, fire-eaters and an ice sculptor joined in worldwide demonstrations to draw attention to global warming. Florida quarterback Tim Tebow became the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy.

One year ago: Former MF Global CEO Jon Corzine was called before Congress to explain the collapse of the securities firm just over a month earlier; Corzine told the House Agriculture Committee he didn’t know what happened to an estimated $1.2 billion in missing clients’ money. The 161-day NBA lockout ended when owners and players ratified the new collective bargaining agreement.

Today’s birthdays: Actor-director Maximilian Schell is 82. Flutist James Galway is 73. Singer Jerry Butler is 73. Pop musician Bobby Elliott (The Hollies) is 71. Actress Mary Woronov is 69. Actor John Rubinstein is 66. Rock singer-musician Gregg Allman is 65. Reggae singer Toots Hibbert (Toots and the Maytals) is 64. Actress Kim Basinger is 59. Rock musician Warren Cuccurullo is 56. Rock musician Phil Collen (Def Leppard) is 55. Country singer Marty Raybon is 53. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim is 53. Political commentator Ann Coulter is 51. Rock musician Marty Friedman is 50. Actor Wendell Pierce is 49. Actress Teri Hatcher is 48. Actor David Harewood (“Homeland”) is 47. Rapper Bushwick Bill (The Geto Boys) is 46. Singer Sinead O’Connor is 46. Actor Matthew Laborteaux is 46. Rock musician Ryan Newell (Sister Hazel) is 40. Actor Dominic Monaghan is 36. Actor Ian Somerhalder is 34. Rock singer Ingrid Michaelson is 33. R&B singer Chrisette Michele is 30. Rock singer-actress Kate Voegele is 26. Actress AnnaSophia Robb is 19.

Thought for today: “So long as governments set the example of killing their enemies, private individuals will occasionally kill theirs.” — Elbert Hubbard, American author (1856-1915).

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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