Today is Monday, Dec. 14, the 348th day of 2015. There are 17 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Dec. 14, 1799, the first president of the United States, George Washington, died at his Mount Vernon, Virginia, home at age 67.
On this date:
In 1819, Alabama joined the Union as the 22nd state.
In 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.
In 1918, "Il Trittico," a trio of one-act operas by Giacomo Puccini, premiered at New York's Metropolitan Opera House. (The third opera, "Gianni Schicchi (SKEE'-kee)," featured the aria "O Mio Babbino Caro," which was an immediate hit.)
In 1939, the Soviet Union was expelled from the League of Nations for invading Finland.
In 1946, the United Nations General Assembly voted to establish the U.N.'s headquarters in New York.
In 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States, ruled that Congress was within its authority to enforce the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against racial discrimination by private businesses (in this case, a motel that refused to cater to blacks).
In 1972, Apollo 17 astronauts Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan concluded their third and final moonwalk and blasted off for their rendezvous with the command module.
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. Former New York Yankees outfielder Roger Maris, who'd hit 61 home runs during the 1961 season, died in Houston at age 51.
In 1995, Presidents Alija Izetbegovic (AHL'-yuh ee-zeht-BEG'-oh-vich) of Bosnia, Slobodan Milosevic (sloh-BOH'-dahn mee-LOH'-shuh-vich) of Serbia and Franjo Tudjman (FRAHN'-yoh TOOJ'-mahn) of Croatia signed the Bosnian peace treaty in Paris.
In 2012, a gunman with a semi-automatic rifle killed 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, then committed suicide as police arrived; 20-year-old Adam Lanza had fatally shot his mother at their home before carrying out the attack on the school.
Ten years ago: President George W. Bush defended his decision to wage the Iraq war, even as he acknowledged that "much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong." The House voted 251-174 to renew the USA Patriot Act. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (mahk-MOOD' ah-muh-DEE'-neh-zhahd) escalated his anti-Israeli rhetoric, calling the Holocaust a "myth" used by Europeans to create a Jewish state in the heart of the Islamic world.
Five years 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, Florida, but hit no one before fatally shooting himself. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi scraped through two parliamentary votes of no confidence.
One year ago: A last-minute deal salvaged U.N. climate talks in Lima, Peru, from collapse. Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (shin-zoh ah-bay) scored a decisive election victory and promised to push efforts to revitalize the world's third largest economy. Politician, TV personality and onetime Miss America Bess Myerson died in Santa Monica, California, at age 90.
Today's Birthdays: Singer-actress Abbe Lane is 84. Actor Hal Williams is 81. Actress-singer Jane Birkin is 69. Actress Patty Duke is 69. Pop singer Joyce Vincent-Wilson (Tony Orlando and Dawn) is 69. Entertainment executive Michael Ovitz is 69. Actress Dee Wallace is 67. Rhythm-and-blues singer Ronnie McNeir (The Four Tops) is 66. Rock musician Cliff Williams (AC/DC) is 66. Actor-comedian T.K. Carter is 59. Rock singer-musician Mike Scott (The Waterboys) is 57. Singer-musician Peter "Spider" Stacy (The Pogues) is 57. Actress Cynthia Gibb is 52. Actor Archie Kao is 46. Actress Natascha McElhone is 46. Actress-comedian Michaela Watkins is 44. Actress-comedian Miranda Hart (TV: "Call the Midwife") is 43. Rhythm-and-blues singer Brian Dalyrimple (Soul For Real) is 40. Actress KaDee Strickland is 40. Actress Tammy Blanchard is 39. Actress Sophie Monk is 36. Actress Vanessa Hudgens is 27. Rock/R&B singer Tori Kelly 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).