Today in History 12/28


Today is Friday, Dec. 28, the 363rd day of 2012. There are three days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 28, 1912, San Francisco’s Municipal Railway began operations with Mayor James Rolph Jr. at the controls of Streetcar No. 1 as 50,000 spectators looked on.

On this date:

• In 1612, Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei observed the planet Neptune, but mistook it for a star. (Neptune wasn’t officially discovered until 1846 by Johann Gottfried Galle.)

• In 1832, John C. Calhoun became the first vice president of the United States to resign, stepping down because of differences with President Andrew Jackson.

• In 1846, Iowa became the 29th state to be admitted to the Union.

• In 1945, Congress officially recognized the Pledge of Allegiance.

• In 1961, the Tennessee Williams play “Night of the Iguana” opened on Broadway. Former first lady Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, the second wife of President Woodrow Wilson, died in Washington at age 89.

• In 1982, Nevell Johnson Jr., a black man, was mortally wounded by a police officer in a Miami video arcade, setting off three days of race-related disturbances that left another man dead.

• In 1987, a mass killing came to light as the bodies of 14 relatives of Ronald Gene Simmons were found at his home near Dover, Ark., after Simmons shot and killed two other people in Russellville. (Simmons was executed in 1990.)

Ten years ago:

• The U.N. nuclear watchdog decided to pull its inspectors out of North Korea by New Year’s Eve, a step demanded by the North.

Five years ago:

• President George W. Bush used a “pocket veto” to reject a sweeping defense bill because he objected to a provision that would have exposed the Iraqi government to expensive lawsuits seeking damages from the Saddam Hussein era.

• David Letterman’s production company reached an interim agreement with the Writers Guild allowing his talk show as well as Craig Ferguson’s to return to the air.

One year ago:

• North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong Un, escorted his father’s hearse in an elaborate state funeral, bowing somberly and saluting in front of tens of thousands of citizens who wailed and stamped their feet in grief for Kim Jong Il.

Today’s Birthdays:

Comic book creator Stan Lee is 90. Actor Martin Milner is 81. Actress Nichelle Nichols is 80. Actress Dame Maggie Smith is 78. Rock singer-musician Charles Neville is 74. Rock singer-musician Edgar Winter is 66. Actor Denzel Washington is 58. Comedian Seth Meyers is 39.