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 1856, the 28th president of the United States, Thomas Woodrow Wilson, was born in Staunton, Va.
In 1897, the play "Cyrano de Bergerac," by Edmond Rostand, premiered in Paris.
In 1917, the New York Evening Mail published "A Neglected Anniversary," a facetious, as well as fictitious, essay by H.L. Mencken recounting the history of bathtubs in America.
In 1937, composer Maurice Ravel died in Paris at age 62.
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 1972, Kim Il Sung, the premier of North Korea, was named the country's president under a new constitution.
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. Mwai Kibaki and his opposition alliance won a landslide victory in Kenyan elections, breaking the ruling party's 39-year grip on power.
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. Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was laid to rest as the country's army tried to quell a frenzy of rioting in the wake of her assassination. Six French charity workers sentenced to eight years' forced labor in Chad for allegedly trying to kidnap 103 children were transferred to French custody. (The workers were later pardoned by Chad's president and set free.) 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. Turkish warplanes mistakenly killed 35 smugglers and other villagers in an operation targeting Kurdish rebels in Iraq. Kaye Stevens, a singer and actress who performed with the Rat Pack and was a frequent guest on Johnny Carson's "The Tonight Show," died in The Villages, Fla., at age 79.
Today's Birthdays: Comic book creator Stan Lee is 90. Former United Auto Workers union president Owen Bieber is 83. Actor Martin Milner is 81. Actress Nichelle Nichols is 80. Actress Dame Maggie Smith is 78. Rock singer-musician Charles Neville is 74. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., is 68. Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., is 66. Rock singer-musician Edgar Winter is 66. Actor Denzel Washington is 58. Country singer Joe Diffie is 54. Country musician Mike McGuire (Shenandoah) is 54. Actor Chad McQueen is 52. Country singer-musician Marty Roe (Diamond Rio) is 52. Actor Malcolm Gets is 48. Actor Mauricio Mendoza is 43. Comedian Seth Meyers is 39. Actor Brendan Hines is 36. Rhythm-and-blues singer John Legend is 34. Actress Sienna Miller is 31. Actor Thomas Dekker is 25. Actress Mackenzie Rosman is 23. Pop singer David Archuleta (TV: "American Idol") is 22.
Thought for Today: "If you don't know history, then you don't know anything. You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree." -- Michael Crichton, American author (1942-2008).
Copyright 2012, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.