On this day, Dec. 16…
1944: The World War II Battle of the Bulge begins as German forces launch a surprise attack against Allied forces through the Ardennes Forest in Belgium and Luxembourg. (The Allies eventually would be able to turn back the Germans.).
Also on this day:
- 1773: The Boston Tea Party takes place as American colonists board a British ship and dumped more than 300 chests of tea into Boston Harbor to protest tea taxes.
- 1905: The entertainment trade publication Variety comes out with its first weekly issue.
- 1950: President Harry S. Truman proclaims a national state of emergency in order to fight “world conquest by Communist imperialism.”
- 1960: A United Air Lines DC-8 and a TWA Super Constellation collide over New York City, killing 134 people.
- 1976: The government halts its swine flu vaccination program following reports of paralysis apparently linked to the vaccine.
- 1980: Harland Sanders, founder of the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant chain, dies in Shelbyville, Ky., at age 90.
- 1982: Environmental Protection Agency head Anne M. Gorsuch becomes the first Cabinet-level officer to be cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to submit documents requested by a congressional committee.
- 2000: President-elect George W. Bush selects Colin Powell to become the first African-American secretary of state.
- 2001: After nine weeks of fighting, Afghan militia leaders claim control of the last mountain bastion of Usama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda fighters, but bin Laden himself is nowhere to be seen.
- 2008: The Cleveland Clinic announces its surgeons have performed the nation’s first near-total face transplant on a severely disfigured woman. (The woman, Connie Culp, would go public with her identity in May 2009.)
- 2008: Police in Hollywood, Fla., close their investigation into the 1981 abduction-slaying of 6-year-old Adam Walsh, saying a serial killer who’d died more than a decade earlier in prison, Ottis Toole, was responsible.
- 2012: President Barack Obama visits Newtown, Conn., the scene of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre; after meeting privately with victims’ families, the president tells an evening vigil he would use “whatever power” he has to prevent future shootings.
- 2013: In the first ruling of its kind, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon declares that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records likely violates the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable search.