Today's Highlight in History:
On Dec. 8, 1941, the United States entered World War II as Congress declared war against Imperial Japan, a day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
On this date:
In 1765, Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin, was born in Westborough, Massachusetts.
In 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the Catholic dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which holds that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was free of original sin from the moment of her own conception.
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction for the South.
In 1914, "Watch Your Step," the first musical revue to feature a score composed entirely by Irving Berlin, opened in New York.
In 1940, the Chicago Bears defeated the Washington Redskins, 73-0, in the NFL Championship Game, which was carried on network radio for the first time by the Mutual Broadcasting System (the announcer was Red Barber).
In 1949, the Chinese Nationalist government moved from the Chinese mainland to Formosa as the Communists pressed their attacks.
In 1962, the first session of the Second Vatican Council was formally adjourned. Typographers went on a 114-day strike against four New York City newspapers.
In 1972, a United Airlines Boeing 737 crashed while attempting to land at Chicago-Midway Airport, killing 43 of the 61 people on board, as well as two people on the ground; among the dead were Dorothy Hunt, wife of Watergate conspirator E. Howard Hunt, U.S. Rep. George W. Collins, D-Ill., and CBS News correspondent Michele Clark.
In 1980, rock star John Lennon was shot to death outside his New York City apartment building by an apparently deranged fan.
In 1982, a man demanding an end to nuclear weapons held the Washington Monument hostage, threatening to blow it up with explosives he claimed were inside a van. (After a 10-hour standoff, Norman D. Mayer was shot dead by police; it turned out there were no explosives.)
In 1987, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev signed a treaty at the White House calling for destruction of intermediate-range nuclear missiles.
In 1991, Russia, Byelorussia and Ukraine declared the Soviet national government dead, forging a new alliance to be known as the Commonwealth of Independent States. AIDS patient Kimberly Bergalis, who had contracted the disease from her dentist, died in Fort Pierce, Florida, at age 23.
Ten years ago: A gunman went on a rampage inside a downtown Chicago law firm specializing in intellectual property and patents, killing three people before being shot dead by police. The House ethics committee concluded that Republican lawmakers and aides had failed for a decade to protect male pages from sexual overtures by former Florida Congressman Mark Foley, but that they had broken no rules and should not be punished. Former San Francisco Giants shortstop Jose Uribe, 47, was killed in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic.
Five years ago: Former MF Global CEO Jon Corzine was called before Congress to explain the collapse of the securities firm just over a month earlier; Corzine told the House Agriculture Committee he didn't know what happened to an estimated $1.2 billion in missing clients' money. The 161-day NBA lockout ended when owners and players ratified the new collective bargaining agreement.
One year ago: China declared its first ever red smog alert as poisonous air quality forced the government to close schools, order motorists off the road and shut down factories in and around Beijing.
Today's Birthdays: Flutist James Galway is 77. Singer Jerry Butler is 77. Pop musician Bobby Elliott (The Hollies) is 75. Actress Mary Woronov is 73. Actor John Rubinstein is 70. Rock singer-musician Gregg Allman is 69. Reggae singer Toots Hibbert (Toots and the Maytals) is 68. Actress Kim Basinger is 63. Rock musician Warren Cuccurullo is 60. Rock musician Phil Collen (Def Leppard) is 59. Country singer Marty Raybon is 57. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim is 57. Political commentator Ann Coulter is 55. Rock musician Marty Friedman is 54. Actor Wendell Pierce is 53. Actress Teri Hatcher is 52. Actor David Harewood is 51. Rapper Bushwick Bill (The Geto Boys) is 50. Singer Sinead O'Connor is 50. Actor Matthew Laborteaux is 50. Rock musician Ryan Newell (Sister Hazel) is 44. Actor Dominic Monaghan is 40. Actor Ian Somerhalder is 38. Rock singer Ingrid Michaelson is 37. R&B singer Chrisette Michele is 34. Actress Hannah Ware is 34. Country singer Sam Hunt is 32. Rock singer-actress Kate Voegele is 30. Christian rock musician Jen Ledger (Skillet) is 27. Actress Wallis Currie-Wood is 25. Actress AnnaSophia Robb is 23.
Thought for Today: "So long as governments set the example of killing their enemies, private individuals will occasionally kill theirs." — Elbert Hubbard, American author (1856-1915).