Wednesday, December 17, 1997
The Progress M-36 cargo ship undocks from the Mir space station.
The European Parliament meets in Strasbourg, France.
On the horizon
On Thursday, December 18, South Korea holds presidential elections.
On Friday, December 19, a verdict is expected in a Cologne courtroom
in the trial of a 75-year-old charged with participating in a
World War II massacre of Jews.
On Saturday, December 20, the Progress M-37 cargo ship is to launch from
Kazakhstan on its way to the Mir space station.
On Sunday, December 21, presidential elections are held in Lithuania.
On Monday, December 22, the Progress M-37 cargo ship is scheduled to
dock with the Mir space station.
On this day
In 1538, King Henry VIII, who had declared himself head of the English
church, was excommunicated by Pope Paul III.
In 1770, Ludwig van Beethoven was baptized. He became a huge influence
in western classical music and wrote nine symphonies, the opera
"Fidelio," five piano concerti and many chamber pieces.
In 1830, Simon Bolivar died. Known as the "Liberator," he freed Colombia
in 1819 and was elected its president. He then took Venezuela, Ecuador
and Peru from the Spaniards. Upper Peru was renamed Bolivia.
In 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright made the first successful controlled
flight in a powered aircraft, the Wright Flyer, on the beach at Kitty
Hawk, North Carolina. They made four flights, the longest lasting almost
In 1909, Leopold II, king of the Belgians, died. He formed the Congo
Free State in 1885 which Belgium annexed in 1908 as the Belgian Congo.
He was succeeded by his nephew, Albert I.
In 1939, the German battleship Admiral Graf Spee was scuttled off
Montevideo after it was trapped by British warships. Its captain, Hans
Langsdorff, later committed suicide.
In 1940, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt outlined his plan for "lend-leasing"
arms and equipment to Britain during World War II.
In 1957, the first Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile was tested
by the United States.
In 1962, Monaco promulgated a new constitution, vesting legislative
power jointly in the Prince and the Conseil National.
In 1967, British yachtsman Alec Rose in his ketch "Lively Lady" reached
Melbourne after a 5-month, 14,500-mile single-handed voyage from
In 1967, Harold Holt, Australian prime minister, drowned while swimming
off Portsea, near Melbourne. His deputy, John McEwen, succeeded him.
In 1971, the India-Pakistan War over East Pakistan (later Bangladesh)
ended when 90,000 Pakistani troops surrendered.
In 1973, in Italy, 32 people were killed at Rome Airport when gunmen threw
bombs at a Pan Am jet and machine-gunned the terminal building.
In 1983, in Madrid, Spain, 83 people were killed in a fire at a
In 1983, six people were killed by an IRA bomb outside Harrods
department store in London.
In 1986, Davina Thompson made medical history by having the first heart,
lung and liver transplant, which took place at Papworth Hospital in
In 1989, Brazil celebrated its first direct election for president in 29
years. Voters chose between Fernando Collor de Mello (who won) and Luiz
Inacio Lula da Silva.
In 1990, in Haiti's first free elections, Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide
was elected president.
In 1993, Ivory Coast's new prime minister, Daniel Kablan Duncan, took
office, praising the economic austerity policies of his predecessor
In 1994, two U.S. pilots were captured and interrogated by North Korea
after their helicopter crash-landed in the Communist state.
In 1995, Chancellor Franz Vranitzky's Social Democrats scored a victory
in Austria's snap elections, polling 38.3 percent, up from 34.9 percent
In 1996, the U.N. General Assembly appointed Kofi Annan of Ghana to a
five-year term as secretary-general, beginning January 1, 1997.
In 1996, Peruvian rebels stormed the Japanese ambassador's home in Lima,
threatening to kill almost 490 hostages unless the government freed
In 1996, Sun Yaoting, China's last imperial eunuch, died in Beijing at
the age of 93.
The days are getting longer and colder. The malls are full of shoppers.
And you've sent enough holiday cards to keep the entire Postal Service busy. But have you stopped to wonder where our holiday traditions originated? Check out
Candlegrove Winter Holidays -- and travel back in time.
Holidays and more
Bhutan celebrates a National Day.
Actor Christopher Cazenove is 52.
Publisher Bob Guccione is 67.
Actor Bernard Hill is 53.
Actor Ernie Hudson is 52.
Former basketball player Albert King is 38.
Comedian and writer Eugene Levy is 51.
Former TV game show host Gene Rayburn is 80.
Journalist William Safire is 68.
Sources: Associated Press,
Chase's Calendar of Events 1997, J.P. Morgan