Monday, Dec. 17, is the 352d day of 2012. There are 14 days left in the year.
Today’s birthdays: Rock singer-musician Art Neville is 75. Actor Ernie Hudson is 67. Political commentator Chris Matthews is 67. Comedian-actor Eugene Levy is 66. Rock singer Paul Rodgers is 63. Actor Bill Pullman is 59. Actor Barry Livingston is 59. Producer-director-writer Peter Farrelly is 56. Rock musician Mike Mills (R.E.M.) is 54. Actress Marissa Ribisi is 38. Actor Giovanni Ribisi is 38. Actress Milla Jovovich is 37. Actress Vanessa Zima is 26.
In 1777, France recognized American independence.
In 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright of Dayton, Ohio, conducted the first successful manned powered-airplane flights near Kitty Hawk, N.C., using their experimental craft, the Wright Flyer.
In 1944, the US Army announced it was ending its policy of excluding Japanese-Americans from the West Coast.
In 1957, the United States successfully test-fired the Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time.
In 1975, Lynette Fromme was sentenced in Sacramento, Calif., to life in prison for her attempt on the life of President Gerald R. Ford.
In 1992, President George H.W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari signed the North American Free Trade Agreement in separate ceremonies. (After approval by the legislative bodies of the leaders’ respective countries, the treaty came into force on Jan. 1, 1994.)
In 2011, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died after more than a decade of iron rule; he was 69, according to official records, but some reports indicated he was 70.