Today is Wednesday, Dec. 21, the 356th day of 2016. There are 10 days left in the year. Winter arrives at 5:44 a.m. Eastern time.
Today’s highlight: On Dec. 21, 1891, the first basketball game is believed to have been played at the International YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts; devised by James Naismith, “Basket Ball” involved the use of a soccer ball and two peach baskets, with nine players on each team. (The final score of this experimental game: 1-0.)
On this date:
In 1620, Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower went ashore for the first time at present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts.
In 1864, during the Civil War, Union forces led by Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman concluded their “March to the Sea” as they captured Savannah, Georgia.
In 1879, the Henrik Ibsen play “A Doll’s House” premiered at the Royal Theater in Copenhagen.
In 1937, Walt Disney’s first animated feature, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” had its world premiere in Los Angeles.
In 1940, author F. Scott Fitzgerald died in Hollywood, California, at age 44.
In 1945, U.S. Army Gen. George S. Patton, 60, died in Heidelberg, Germany, 12 days after being seriously injured in a car accident.
In 1958, Charles de Gaulle was elected to a seven-year term as the first president of the Fifth Republic of France.
In 1968, Apollo 8 was launched on a mission to orbit the moon.
In 1971, the U.N. Security Council chose Kurt Waldheim to succeed U Thant as Secretary-General.
In 1976, the Liberian-registered tanker Argo Merchant broke apart near Nantucket Island, off Massachusetts, almost a week after running aground, spilling 7.5 million gallons of oil into the North Atlantic.
In 1988, 270 people were killed when a terrorist bomb exploded aboard a Pam Am Boeing 747 over Lockerbie, Scotland, sending wreckage crashing to the ground.
In 1991, eleven of the 12 former Soviet republics proclaimed the birth of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the death of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Ten years ago: At Camp Pendleton, California, four Marines were charged with murder in the killings of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha; four Marine officers were accused of failures in investigating and reporting the deaths. (Of the eight, six had charges dismissed, and one was acquitted of making false statements; Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, who had his unpremeditated murder charge reduced to voluntary manslaughter, ended up pleading guilty to negligent dereliction of duty.) Final results showed opponents of Iran’s ultra-conservative president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, winning nationwide elections for local councils.
Five years ago: The U.S. Army announced charges against eight soldiers related to the death of a fellow GI, Pvt. Daniel Chen, who apparently shot himself in Afghanistan after being hazed. (Of the eight, five received prison sentences and two received demotions; four of the eight faced dismissal from the service.) Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was selected the 2011 AP Male Athlete of the Year. Baylor’s Robert Griffin III was selected The Associated Press college football player of the year.
One year ago: A Taliban attacker rammed a bomb-laden motorcycle into a joint NATO and Afghan patrol near the Bagram Airfield, killing six Americans in the deadliest attack on foreign troops since the previous August. The nation’s three-decade-old ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men was formally lifted, but major restrictions continued to limit who could give blood in the U.S. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney was named The Associated Press college football coach of the year.
Today’s birthdays: Country singer Freddie Hart is 90. Talk show host Phil Donahue is 81. Movie director John Avildsen is 81. Actress Jane Fonda is 79. Actor Larry Bryggman is 78. Singer Carla Thomas is 74. Musician Albert Lee is 73. Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas is 72. Actor Josh Mostel is 70. Actor Samuel L. Jackson is 68. Movie producer Jeffrey Katzenberg is 66. Actor Dennis Boutsikaris is 64. Singer Betty Wright is 63. International Tennis Hall-of-Famer Chris Evert is 62. Actress Jane Kaczmarek is 61. Country singer Lee Roy Parnell is 60. Entertainer Jim Rose is 60. Former child actress Lisa Gerritsen is 59. Actor-comedian Ray Romano is 59. Country singer Christy Forester (The Forester Sisters) is 54. Rock musician Murph (The Lemonheads; Dinosaur Jr.) is 52. Actor-comedian Andy Dick is 51. Rock musician Gabrielle Glaser is 51. Actress Michelle Hurd is 50. Actor Kiefer Sutherland is 50. Actress Karri Turner is 50. Actress Khrystyne Haje is 48. Country singer Brad Warren (The Warren Brothers) is 48. Actress Julie Delpy is 47. Country singer-musician Rhean Boyer (Carolina Rain) is 46. Contemporary Christian singer Natalie Grant is 45. Actor Glenn Fitzgerald is 45. Singer-musician Brett Scallions is 45. World Golf Hall of Famer Karrie Webb is 42. Rock singer Lukas Rossi (Rock Star Supernova) is 40. Actress Rutina Wesley is 38. Rock musician Anna Bulbrook (Airborne Toxic Event) is 34. Country singer Luke Stricklin is 34. Actor Steven Yeun is 33. Actress Kaitlyn Dever is 20.
Thought for today: “Many human beings say that they enjoy the winter, but what they really enjoy is feeling proof against it.” — Richard Adams, English author.