Today is Friday, Dec. 13, the 347th day of 2019. There are 18 days left in the year.
On Dec. 13, 1981, authorities in Poland imposed martial law in a crackdown on the Solidarity labor movement. (Martial law formally ended in 1983.)
On this date:
In 1862, Union forces led by Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside launched futile attacks against entrenched Confederate soldiers during the Civil War Battle of Fredericksburg; the soundly defeated Northern troops withdrew two days later.
In 1918, President Woodrow Wilson arrived in France, becoming the first chief executive to visit Europe while in office.
In 1937, the Chinese city of Nanjing fell to Japanese forces during the Sino-Japanese War; what followed was a massacre of war prisoners, soldiers and citizens. (China maintains that up to 300,000 people were killed; Japanese nationalists say the death toll was far lower, and some maintain the massacre never happened.)
In 1944, during World War II, the light cruiser USS Nashville was badly damaged in a Japanese kamikaze attack off Negros Island in the Philippines that claimed 133 lives.
In 1977, an Air Indiana Flight 216, a DC-3 carrying the University of Evansville basketball team on a flight to Nashville, crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all 29 people on board.
In 1989, the film “Driving Miss Daisy,” starring Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy, was put into limited release by Warner Bros.
In 1993, the U-S Supreme Court ruled, five-to-four, that people were entitled to a hearing before real property linked to illegal drug sales could be seized.
In 1997, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in Los Angeles for the 1 billion-dollar Getty Center, one of the largest arts centers in the United States.
In 2000, Republican George W. Bush claimed the presidency a day after the U.S. Supreme Court shut down further recounts of disputed ballots in Florida; Democrat Al Gore conceded, delivering a call for national unity.
In 2001, The Pentagon publicly released a captured videotape of Osama bin Laden in which the al-Qaida leader said the deaths and destruction achieved by the September 11 attacks exceeded his “most optimistic” expectations.
In 2002, Cardinal Bernard Law resigned as Boston archbishop because of the priest sex abuse scandal.
In 2003, Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. forces while hiding in a hole under a farmhouse in Adwar, Iraq, near his hometown of Tikrit.
Ten years ago: The Senate passed, 57-35, a $1.1 trillion spending bill with increased budgets for vast areas of the federal government, including health, education, law enforcement and veterans’ programs. An attacker hurled a statuette at Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, striking him in the face and leaving the stunned 73-year-old leader with a broken nose and two broken teeth. (The attacker, Massimo Tartaglia, was later found unfit to stand trial.) Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Samuelson died in Belmont, Massachusetts, at age 94.
Five years ago: Thousands of protesters marched in New York, Washington and other U.S. cities to call attention to the killing of unarmed black men by white police officers who faced no criminal charges. Congress cleared a $1.1 trillion spending bill for President Barack Obama’s signature. Marcus Mariota won the Heisman Trophy, becoming the first Oregon player to earn the award. Bill Bonds, an iconic Detroit anchorman who’d also worked for ABC stations in New York and Los Angeles, died at age 82.
One year ago: Authorities confirmed that a 7-year-old girl who had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border with her father the previous week died after being taken into the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol; the girl had been flown to an El Paso hospital after she began having seizures. Bomb threats were emailed to hundreds of schools, businesses and government buildings across the country in what authorities said appeared to be a crude extortion attempt. The suspect in the shooting attack on a Christmas market in the French city of Strasbourg two days earlier was shot and killed by police. A Russian gun-rights activist, Maria Butina, admitted in a plea deal that she was a secret agent for the Kremlin who tried to infiltrate conservative U.S. political groups as Donald Trump rose to power. (Butina was deported the following October after serving a prison sentence.) Janet Jackson, Stevie Nix and Def Leppard were among those earning induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Today’s birthdays: Former Secretary of State George P. Shultz is 99. Actor-comedian Dick Van Dyke is 94. Actor Christopher Plummer is 90. Country singer Buck White is 89. Music/film producer Lou Adler is 86. Singer John Davidson is 78. Actress Kathy Garver (TV: “Family Affair”) is 74. Singer Ted Nugent is 71. Rock musician Jeff “Skunk” Baxter is 71. Country musician Ron Getman is 71. Actor Robert Lindsay is 70. Country singer-musician Randy Owen is 70. Actress Wendie Malick is 69. Former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is 69. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is 66. Country singer John Anderson is 65. Singer-songwriter Steve Forbert is 65. Singer-actor Morris Day is 63. Actor Steve Buscemi (boo-SEH’-mee) is 62. Actor Johnny Whitaker (TV: “Family Affair”) is 60. Rock musician John Munson (Semisonic; Twilight Hours) is 57. Actress-reality TV star NeNe Leakes is 53. Actor-comedian Jamie Foxx is 52. Actress Lusia Strus is 52. Actor Bart Johnson is 49. Actor Jeffrey Pierce is 48. TV personality Debbie Matenopoulos is 45. Rock singer-musician Thomas Delonge is 44. Actor James Kyson Lee is 44. Actress Kimee Balmilero (TV: “Hawaii Five-0”) is 40. Actress Chelsea Hertford is 38. Rock singer Amy Lee (Evanescence) is 38. Actor Michael Socha is 32. Neo-soul musician Wesley Watkins (Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats) is 32. Actor Marcel Spears (TV: “The Mayor”) is 31. Singer Taylor Swift is 30. Actress Maisy Stella is 16.
Thought for today: “An orator without judgment is a horse without a bridle.” — Theophrastus, Greek philosopher (c.371 BC – c.287 BC)