WAR!, TERRORISM, CULTURE, SCANDAL, DEATH PENALTY, CIVIL RIGHTS, SCIENCE, NANNY STATE, POLITICS, IMMIGRATION, SERIAL KILLERS
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.)
1916 - During World War I, after 10 months of fighting the French defeated the Germans in the Battle of Verdun.
In 1944, in a pair of rulings, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the wartime relocation of Japanese-Americans (Korematsu v. United States), but also said undeniably loyal Americans of Japanese ancestry could not continue to be detained (Ex parte Endo).
1950 - NATO foreign ministers approved plans to defend Western Europe, including the use of nuclear weapons, if necessary.
In 1972, the United States began heavy bombing of North Vietnamese targets during the Vietnam War. (The bombardment ended 11 days later.)
1998 - Russia recalled its U.S. ambassador in protest of the U.S. attacks on Iraq.
1787 - New Jersey became the third state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
1973 - The IRA launched its Christmas bombing campaign in London.
In 1865, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery, was declared in effect.
1912 - The U.S. Congress prohibited the immigration of illiterate persons.
1987 - Ivan F. Boesky was sentenced to three years in prison for plotting Wall Street's biggest insider-trading scandal. He only served about two years of the sentence.
1998 - The U.S. House of Representatives began the debate on the four articles of impeachment concerning U.S. President Bill Clinton. It was only the second time in U.S. history that process had begun.
In 1620, passengers from the Mayflower came ashore near Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts
In 1957, the World War II epic "The Bridge on the River Kwai" opened in New York.
1917 - The Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed by the U.S. Congress. It banned the manufacture, sale and transportation of alcohol.
2001 - Mark Oliver Gebel, a Ringling Bros. Circus star, went on trial for animal abuse. The charges stemmed from an incident with an elephant that was marching too slowly into a circus performance on August 25, 2001. He was acquitted on December 21, 2001.
1969 - Britain's Parliament abolished the death penalty for murder.
1998 - South Carolina proceeded with the U.S.' 500th execution since capital punishment was restored.
2001 - In Seattle, WA, Gary Leon Ridgeway pled innocent to the charge of murder for four of the Green River serial killings. He had been arrested on November 30, 2001.
1912 - The discovery of the Piltdown Man in East Sussex was announced. It was proved to be a hoax in 1953.
In 1980, former Soviet Premier Alexei N. Kosygin died at age 76.
Dec. 18, the 352nd day of 2007. There are 13 days left in the year.
compiled by Mondoreb
Sources: Today in History
Today in History: December 17, 2007
Death by 1000 Papercuts Front Page.