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This day in history

Wednesday, Dec. 5, is the 340th day of 2012. There are 26 days left in the year.

Today’s birthdays: Singer Little Richard is 80. Author Joan Didion is 78. Author Calvin Trillin is 77. Musician J.J. Cale is 74. Opera singer Jose Carreras is 66. Pop singer Jim Messina is 65. College Football Hall of Famer Jim Plunkett is 65. World Golf Hall of Famer Lanny Wadkins is 63. Actress Morgan Brittany is 61. Pro Football Hall of Famer Art Monk is 55. Rock singer-musician John Rzeznik (the Goo Goo Dolls) is 47. Comedian-actress Margaret Cho is 44. Actor Nick Stahl is 33. Rhythm-and-blues singer Keri Hilson is 30. Actor Frankie Muniz is 27.

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In 1782, the eighth president of the United States, Martin Van Buren, was born in Kinderhook, N.Y.; he was the first chief executive to be born after American independence.

In 1791, composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died in Vienna, at age 35.

In 1792, George Washington was reelected president.

In 1831, former President John Quincy Adams took his seat as a member of the US House of Representatives.

In 1848, President Polk triggered the Gold Rush of ’49 by confirming that gold had been discovered in California.

In 1933, national Prohibition came to an end as Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, repealing the 18th Amendment.

In 1962, the United States and the Soviet Union announced a bilateral space agreement on exchanging weather data from satellites, mapping Earth’s geomagnetic field and cooperating in the experimental relay of communications.

In 2007, a teenage gunman went on a shooting rampage at the Westroads Mall in Omaha, killing six store employees and two customers; Robert A. Hawkins, 19, then took his own life. President George W. Bush, trying to keep pressure on Iran, called on Tehran to ‘‘come clean’’ about the scope of its nuclear activities or else face diplomatic isolation.

In 2011, the cash-strapped US Postal Service announced $3 billion in reductions, with cuts to first-class mail service by the spring of 2012 and elimination of more than 250 processing centers.

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