This Day in History

Posted: Monday, December 18, 2006

In Alaska

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• In 1922, the Ready Bullion Mine on Douglas Island near Juneau was permanently shut down.

• In 1971, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act was signed into law, creating the 13 regional native corporations in Alaska.

• In 1973, plans to add 31.5 million acres of Alaska land to the National Wildlife Refuge System were submitted by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Rogers Morton under provision D-2 of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

In the nation

• In 1787, New Jersey became the third state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

• In 1865, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery, was declared in effect.

• In 1956, the controversial movie "Baby Doll," starring Carroll Baker, was released. The panel game show "To Tell the Truth" debuted on CBS TV.

• In 1996, FBI agent Earl Edwin Pitts was arrested, accused of selling secrets to the Russians. (Pitts was sentenced in June 1997 to 27 years in prison after admitting that he'd conspired and attempted to commit espionage.) Aides to President Clinton disclosed that Asian-American businessman Charles Yah Lin Trie, who delivered $460,000 dollars in questionable donations to the Clintons' legal defense fund, had been to the White House at least 23 times since 1993.

• In 2001, a federal judge in Philadelphia threw out Mumia Abu-Jamal's death sentence and ordered a new sentencing hearing for the former Black Panther alternately portrayed as a vicious cop-killer and a victim of a racist frame-up. (Both sides appealed that ruling, and Abu-Jamal remains on death row.)

• In 2005, in a televised speech, President Bush declared that Iraq's parliamentary elections signaled the birth of democracy in the Middle East.

In the world

• In 1892, Tchaikovsky's ballet "The Nutcracker" publicly premiered in St. Petersburg, Russia.

• In 1940, Adolf Hitler signed a secret directive ordering preparations for a Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. (Operation Barbarossa was launched in June 1941.)

• In 1944, in a pair of rulings, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the wartime relocation of Japanese-Americans, but also said undeniably loyal Americans of Japanese ancestry could not continue to be detained.

• In 1956, Japan was admitted to the United Nations.

• In 1969, Britain's Parliament abolished the death penalty for murder.

• In 1972, the United States began heavy bombing of North Vietnamese targets during the Vietnam War. (The bombardment ended 12 days later.)

• In 2005, Vice President Cheney made a surprise visit to Iraq. Susanne Osthoff, a German aid worker kidnapped in Iraq, was freed after three weeks in captivity. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a mild stroke.

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