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Dec 5, 12:01 AM EST

Today in History

Today in History

Today is Monday, Dec. 5, the 340th day of 2016. There are 26 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Dec. 5, 1791, composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died in Vienna, Austria, at age 35.

On this date:

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 1831, former President John Quincy Adams took his seat as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 1916, British Prime Minister Herbert H. Asquith resigned (he was succeeded by David Lloyd George).

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 1955, the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations merged to form the AFL-CIO under its first president, George Meany.

In 1962, the United States and the Soviet Union announced a bilateral space agreement on exchanging weather data from satellites, mapping Earth's geomagnetic field and cooperating in the experimental relay of communications.

In 1979, feminist Sonia Johnson was formally excommunicated by the Mormon Church because of her outspoken support for the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.

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.)

In 1991, Richard Speck, who'd murdered eight student nurses in Chicago in 1966, died in prison a day short of his 50th birthday.

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

In 2013, Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader who became South Africa's first black president, died at age 95.

Ten years ago: Robert Gates won speedy and unanimous approval from the Senate Armed Services Committee to be secretary of defense. New York became the first city in the nation to ban artery-clogging trans fats at restaurants.

Five years ago: The cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service announced $3 billion in reductions, with cuts to first-class mail service by the spring of 2012 and elimination of more than 250 processing centers. Former Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo was posthumously elected to the baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee. The NHL opted for a bold realignment plan giving the league four conferences instead of six divisions and guaranteeing home-and-home series among all teams. (The reshuffling was made necessary by Atlanta's move to Winnipeg.)

One year ago: In the wake of a commando-style shooting rampage by a Muslim extremist couple in Southern California that left 14 people dead, The New York Times called for more gun regulation in its first Page 1 editorial in 95 years; Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. urged students, staff and faculty at his Christian school to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon on campus to counter any copycat attack. A rare pressing of the Beatles' White Album from Ringo Starr's record collection sold at auction in New York for $790,000.

Today's Birthdays: Singer Little Richard is 84. Author Joan Didion is 82. Author Calvin Trillin is 81. Actor Jeroen Krabbe (yeh-ROHN' krah-BAY') is 72. Opera singer Jose Carreras is 70. Pop singer Jim Messina is 69. College Football Hall of Famer and former NFL quarterback Jim Plunkett is 69. World Golf Hall of Famer Lanny Wadkins is 67. Actress Morgan Brittany is 65. Actor Brian Backer is 60. Pro and College Football Hall of Famer Art Monk is 59. Country singer Ty England is 53. Rock singer-musician John Rzeznik (REZ'-nihk) (The Goo Goo Dolls) is 51. Country singer Gary Allan is 49. Comedian-actress Margaret Cho is 48. Writer-director Morgan J. Freeman is 47. Actress Alex Kapp Horner is 47. Rock musician Regina Zernay (Cowboy Mouth) is 44. Actress Paula Patton is 41. Actress Amy Acker is 40. Actor Nick Stahl is 37. Actor Adan Canto (TV: "Designated Survivor") is 35. Rhythm-and-blues singer Keri Hilson is 34. Actor Gabriel Luna is 34. Actor Frankie Muniz is 31. Actor Ross Bagley is 28.

Thought for Today: "As a rule, there is no surer way to the dislike of men than to behave well where they have behaved badly." - Lew Wallace, American author (1827-1905).

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