News, Events, Birthdays, History - December 17 - December 23


Joseph Stalin - December 18, 1878
Joseph Stalin (b. December 18, 1878 in the Russian Empire) served as the first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee from 1922 until his death in 1953. Stalin assumed the leading role in Soviet politics after Vladimir Lenin's death in 1924, and gradually marginalized his opponents until he had become the unchallenged leader of the Soviet Union.
Noted for bringing the Soviet Union into world prominence, at terrible cost to his own people, he left a legacy of repression and fear as well as industrial and military power.


Titanic - The Movie, December 19, 1997
The most expensive file made (up to that time) at $200 million was released in theaters on this date.  Titanic, written and directed by James Cameron, featured the drama of star-crossed lovers (Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet) paired with the amazing special effects re-creation of the doomed 1912 ocean liner's first and last voyage.  The film won 11 Academy Awards, including best picture, which tied it with 1948's Ben-Hur.  It is widely considerered one of the most successful films ever made.
President William Jefferson Clinton - Impeachment Proceedings - December 20, 1998
 President William Clinton was impeached by a House of Representatives that was divided along party lines. He was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice stemming from a sexual relationship with a White House intern. He was then tried by the Senate in January 1999. On Feb 12, 1999, the Senate acquitted him on both charges. Clinton was only the second US president to undergo impeachment proceedings. Andrew Johnson was impeached by the House in 1868, but the Senate voted against impeachment and he finished his term of office.
Pilgrim Landing Anniversary - December 21, 1620
According to Governor William Bradford's History of Plymouth Plantation, "On Munday," [Dec 21, 1620, New Style] the Pilgrims, aboard the Mayflower, reached Plymouth, MA, "sounded ye harbor, and founde it fitt for shipping; and marched into ye land, & founde diverse cornfields, and ye best they could find, and ye season & their presente necessitie made them glad to accepte of it... . And after wards tooke better view of ye place, and resolved wher to pitch their dwelling; and them and their goods." Plymouth Rock, the legendary place of landing since it first was "identified" in 1769, nearly 150 years after the landing, has been a historic shrine since. The landing anniversary is observed in much of New England as Forefathers' Day.

Winter Solstice  - December 21 through March 20
In the Northern Hemisphere winter begins today with the winter solstice, at 12:47 PM, EST. Note that in the Southern Hemisphere today is the beginning of summer. Between Equator and Arctic Circle the sunrise and sunset points on the horizon are farthest south for the year and daylight length is minimum (ranging from 12 hours, 8 minutes, at the equator to zero at the Arctic Circle).