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Today in History

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Today in History

Today is Sunday, Dec. 5, the 339th day of 2021. There are 26 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 5, 1933, national Prohibition came to an end as Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, repealing the 18th Amendment.

On this date:

In 1791, composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died in Vienna, Austria, at age 35.

In 1792, George Washington was reelected president; John Adams was reelected vice president.

In 1848, President James K. Polk triggered the Gold Rush of ’49 by confirming that gold had been discovered in California.

In 1932, German physicist Albert Einstein was granted a visa, making it possible for him to travel to the United States.

In 1952, the Great Smog of London descended on the British capital; the unusually thick fog, which contained toxic pollutants, lasted five days and was blamed for causing thousands of deaths.

In 1955, the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations merged to form the AFL-CIO under its first president, George Meany.

In 1984, the action comedy “Beverly Hills Cop,” starring Eddie Murphy, was released by Paramount Pictures.

In 2002, Strom Thurmond, the oldest and (until Robert Byrd overtook him) longest-serving senator in history, celebrated his 100th birthday on Capitol Hill. (In toasting the South Carolina lawmaker, Senate Republican leader Trent Lott seemed to express nostalgia for Thurmond’s segregationist past; the resulting political firestorm prompted Lott to resign his leadership position.)

In 2003, the two makers of flu shots in the United States, Chiron and Aventis Pasteur, announced they had run out of vaccine and would not be able to meet a surge in demand.

In 2009, a jury in Perugia, Italy convicted American student Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito (rah-fy-EHL’-ay soh-LEH’-chee-toh), of murdering Knox’s British roommate, Meredith Kercher, and sentenced them to long prison terms. (After a series of back-and-forth rulings, Knox and Sollecito were definitively acquitted in 2015 by Italy’s highest court.)

In 2013, Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader who became South Africa’s first Black president, died at age 95.

In 2018, former President George H.W. Bush was mourned at a memorial service at Washington National Cathedral attended by President Donald Trump and former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter along with their spouses; former president George W. Bush was among the speakers, eulogizing his dad as “the brightest of a thousand points of light.”

Ten years ago: The cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service announced $3 billion in reductions, with cuts to first-class mail service by the spring of 2012 and elimination of more than 250 processing centers. The NHL opted for a bold realignment plan giving the league four conferences instead of six divisions and guaranteeing home-and-home series among all teams.

Five years ago: President-elect Donald Trump chose retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson to be secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. A South Carolina judge declared a mistrial after a jury deadlocked in the murder trial of a white former police officer, Michael Slager, in the shooting death of a Black motorist, Walter Scott. (The next year, Slager pleaded guilty in federal court to violating Scott’s civil rights and prosecutors dropped state murder charges; Slager was sentenced to 20 years in prison.) A judge in Marietta, Georgia, sentenced Justin Ross Harris to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole after a jury found that he intentionally left his 22-month-old son, Cooper, in a hot SUV to die.

One year ago: At a Georgia rally where he urged supporters to turn out for a pair of Republican Senate candidates in a January runoff election, President Donald Trump spread baseless allegations of misconduct in the November voting in Georgia and beyond. Hours before the rally, according to officials with knowledge of the call, Trump asked Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp to order a special legislative session to give him the state’s electoral votes, even though Joe Biden had won the majority of the vote; Kemp refused to do so. A college basketball matchup between top-ranked Gonzaga and No. 2 Baylor was canceled less than 90 minutes before tipoff because of two positive COVID-19 tests in the Gonzaga program.

Today’s Birthdays: Author Joan Didion is 87. Author Calvin Trillin is 86. Actor Jeroen Krabbe (yeh-ROHN’ krah-BAY’) is 77. Opera singer Jose Carreras is 75. Musician and singer Jim Messina is 74. College Football Hall of Famer and former NFL quarterback Jim Plunkett is 74. World Golf Hall of Famer Lanny Wadkins is 72. Actor Morgan Brittany is 70. Actor Brian Backer is 65. Pro and College Football Hall of Famer Art Monk is 64. Country singer Ty England is 58. Rock singer-musician John Rzeznik (REZ’-nihk) (The Goo Goo Dolls) is 56. Country singer Gary Allan is 54. Comedian-actor Margaret Cho is 53. Writer-director Morgan J. Freeman is 52. Actor Alex Kapp Horner is 52. Actor Kali Rocha is 50. Rock musician Regina Zernay (Cowboy Mouth) is 49. Actor Paula Patton is 46. Actor Amy Acker is 45. Actor Nick Stahl is 42. Actor Adan Canto is 40. R&B singer Keri Hilson is 39. Actor Gabriel Luna is 39. Actor Frankie Muniz is 36. Actor Ross Bagley is 33. Milwaukee Brewers All-Star outfielder Christian Yelich is 30.

By The Associated Press

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