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Tuesday, December 16, 1997

  • Today's Events
  • On Horizon
  • On This Day
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  • "The pope is our guest. ... We will do everything to the hilt to ensure that the visit will be historic."

    -- Cuban President Fidel Castro

    Today's events

  • Nelson Mandela steps down as South Africa's African National Congress president and a new leader will be elected.

  • NATO foreign ministers meet in Brussels.

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    On the horizon

  • On Wednesday, December 17, the Progress M-36 cargo ship is scheduled to undock from the Mir space station.

  • On Thursday, December 18, South Korea holds presidential elections.

  • On Friday, December 19, the verdict in the trial of a 75-year-old German charged with participating in a World War II massacre of Jews in Ukraine is expected in a Cologne courtroom.

  • On Saturday, December 20, the Progress M-37 cargo ship is to launch from Kazakhstan on its way to Mir space station.

  • On Sunday, December 21, presidential elections are held in Lithuania.

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    On this day

  • In 1653, Oliver Cromwell, leader of the Parliamentary side in the English civil war, was declared Lord Protector of England. He went on to establish religious tolerance and allied England with France against Spain.

  • In 1773, the Boston Tea Party took place off Griffin's Wharf, a protest against Britain's taxation of colonists in Massachusetts. East India tea chests were thrown into the harbor by Bostonians disguised as Indians, prompting British retaliation in 1774.

  • In 1835, a huge fire spread through New York City, destroying more than 600 buildings and causing an estimated $20 million in damages.

  • In 1838, the Boers, on their Great Trek away from British rule in Cape Colony, clashed with Zulu chief Dingaan at the battle of Blood River. The Boers killed 3,000 Zulus.

  • In 1859, Wilhelm Grimm, one of the German brothers who wrote "Grimm's Fairy Tales," died.

  • In 1920, one of the deadliest earthquakes in history jolted Gansu province, China. The magnitude 8.0 quake killed 180,000 people.

  • In 1944, Glenn Miller, U.S. dance band leader, disappeared in a light plane over the English Channel. Among his best-remembered tunes were "In the Mood" and his signature tune "Moonlight Serenade."

  • In 1944, in World War II, German forces launched the Battle of the Bulge when they broke through the Allied lines in the rugged Ardennes region, taking U.S. troops by surprise. There were 77,000 Allied and 130,000 German casualties. The German counter-offensive failed.

  • In 1945, Prince Fumimaro Konoe, twice Japanese prime minister, committed suicide rather than face war crimes charges. In the 1920s. he had worked to curb army powers and prevent an expansion of the war with China. He helped engineer the fall of the Tojo government in 1944 but was suspected of war atrocities.

  • In 1949, Achmad Sukarno, Indonesian nationalist, was elected his country's first president after the Netherlands gave up sovereignty.

  • In 1962, King Mahendra of Nepal canceled plans for a parliamentary democracy, citing a lack of political consciousness among his subjects.

  • In 1963, Zanzibar and Kenya were admitted to the United Nations.

  • In 1966, U.N. Security Council voted in favor of a British resolution for mandatory economic sanctions against Rhodesia.

  • In 1969, the British House of Commons voted 343-185 to approve the permanent abolition of the death penalty.

  • In 1971, Bangladesh, formerly East Bengal and the Sylhet province of Assam in British India, came into existence.

  • In 1987, a Palermo court struck the heaviest legal blow against Sicily's criminal society, sending 19 mobsters, including "boss of bosses" Michele Greco, to jail for life. The court also handed sentences to 319 others, whose sentences totaled nearly 2,700 years in prison.

  • In 1995, the Israeli army pulled out from Qalqilya, the fourth of six West Bank towns being transferred to Palestinian self-rule by the end of that year.

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    "The story you are about to see is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent." Sound familiar? Forty-six years ago today, Sgt. Joe Friday debuted on television. Take a look back at "Dragnet."


    Holidays and more

  • Bahrain celebrates National Day.

  • Bangladesh celebrates Victory Day.

  • Iran celebrates Birth of the Twelfth Imam.

  • Kazakhstan celebrates Republic Day.

  • South Africa celebrates Day of Reconciliation.

  • TV writer and producer Steven Bochco is 54.

  • Actress Alison La Placa is 38.

  • Former football player William "The Refrigerator" Perry is 35.

  • Basketball player Clifford Robinson is 31.

  • Actress Liv Ullmann is 58.

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    Sources: Associated Press,
    Chase's Calendar of Events 1997, J.P. Morgan

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