Almanac

By The Associated Press

Today in History

Today is Wednesday, Dec. 5, the 339th day of 2018. There are 26 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 5, 1994, Republicans chose Newt Gingrich to be the first GOP speaker of the House in four decades.

On this date:

In 1776, the first scholastic fraternity in America, Phi Beta Kappa, was organized at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

In 1782, the eighth president of the United States, Martin Van Buren, was born in Kinderhook, New York; he was the first chief executive to be born after American independence.

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

In 1792, George Washington was re-elected president; John Adams was re-elected 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 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.

In 1945, five U.S. Navy torpedo bombers mysteriously disappeared after taking off from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on a training mission with the loss of all 14 crew members; “The Lost Squadron” contributed to the legend of the Bermuda Triangle.

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 1977, Egypt broke diplomatic relations with Syria, Libya, Algeria, Iraq and South Yemen in the wake of criticism that followed President Anwar Sadat’s peace overtures to Israel.

In 1988, a federal grand jury in North Carolina indicted PTL founder Jim Bakker and former aide Richard Dortch on fraud and conspiracy charges. (Bakker was convicted on all counts; Dortch pleaded guilty to four counts and cooperated with prosecutors in exchange for a lighter sentence. Bakker was initially sentenced to 45 years in prison; the term was eventually reduced to eight years, and he served a total of about five.)

Ten years ago: The Labor Department reported that an alarming half-million jobs had vanished in Nov. 2008 as unemployment hit a 15-year high of 6.7 percent. A judge in Las Vegas sentenced O.J. Simpson to 33 years in prison (with eligibility for parole after nine) for an armed robbery at a hotel room. (Simpson was released to parole on Oct. 1, 2017.) Death claimed actresses Nina Foch at age 84 and Beverly Garland at age 82.

Five years ago: Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader who became South Africa’s first black president, died at age 95.

One year ago: Democratic congressman John Conyers of Michigan resigned from Congress after a nearly 53-year career, becoming the first Capitol Hill politician to lose his job amid the sexual misconduct allegations sweeping through the nation’s workplaces.

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