Good Morning!

J. Frank Norris addressing the Texas Legislature in 1941. (Photo/Austin History Center, Austin Public Library)

Good morning, it’s Thursday, Dec. 12, the 346th day of 2019. There are 19 days left in the year. We’ll start the day in the lower 30s, but we’re expecting temperatures to rise into the upper 50s this afternoon under a mostly sunny sky before dropping to around 40 overnight.

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On December 12, 1930—89 years ago today—Baptist pastor J. Frank Norris, the editor of The Fundamentalist, denounced a college professor during a rally in the courthouse square in Canyon for teaching evolution. Norris’ target was Professor Leo Dufolt of what was then West Texas Teachers College (now West Texas A&M), who organized and chaired the school’s sociology department. Norris had challenge Dufolt to a debate that day, but the professor declined, saying he preferred to play golf. Norris, a Baylor graduate, condemned him as "an orangutang, (sic) God-denying, Bible-destroying, evolutionist professor" with atheistic tendencies and called for his dismissal. The school’s board of regents did call him in, but he defended himself and continued to teach at the university until his retirement in 1955.

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Today's Highlight in Local History:
On December 12, 1994, 30 children were injured—none seriously—in a collision between two school buses in Gatesville.
On December 12, 1996, Baylor named Dave Roberts as the school’s new head football coach.

Today's Highlight in History:
On Dec. 12, 2000, George W. Bush became president-elect as a divided U.S. Supreme Court reversed a state court decision for recounts in Florida's contested election.

On This Date:
In 1787, Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
In 1870, Joseph H. Rainey of South Carolina became the first black lawmaker sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives.
In 1913, authorities in Florence, Italy, announced that the "Mona Lisa," stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris in 1911, had been recovered.
In 1915, singer-actor Frank Sinatra was born Francis Albert Sinatra in Hoboken, New Jersey.
In 1917, during World War I, a train carrying some 1,000 French troops from the Italian front derailed while descending a steep hill in Modane; at least half of the soldiers were killed in France's greatest rail disaster. Father Edward Flanagan founded Boys Town outside Omaha, Nebraska.
In 1946, a United Nations committee voted to accept a six-block tract of Manhattan real estate offered as a gift by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to be the site of the U.N.'s headquarters.
In 1963, Kenya became independent of Britain.
In 1977, the dance movie "Saturday Night Fever," starring John Travolta, premiered in New York.
In 1985, 248 American soldiers and eight crew members were killed when an Arrow Air charter crashed after takeoff from Gander, Newfoundland.
In 1989, in New York, hotel queen Leona Helmsley, 69, was sentenced to four years in prison and fined $7.1 million for tax evasion. (Helmsley served 18 months behind bars, plus a month at a halfway house and two months of house arrest.)
In 1995, by three votes, the Senate killed a constitutional amendment giving Congress authority to outlaw flag burning and other forms of desecration against Old Glory.
In 1997, Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, the international terrorist known as "Carlos the Jackal," went on trial in Paris on charges of killing two French investigators and a Lebanese national. (Ramirez was convicted and is serving a life prison sentence.)

Ten years ago:
Houston elected its first openly gay mayor, with voters handing a solid victory to City Controller Annise Parker after a hotly contested runoff with former city attorney Gene Locke. Rescue crews found the body of a climber on Oregon's Mount Hood while two others remained missing. (The bodies of the other two climbers were found in Aug. 2010.) Sophomore tailback Mark Ingram became the first player at the University of Alabama to win the Heisman Trophy.

Five years ago:
President Barack Obama urged the Senate to ratify a $1.1 trillion spending bill opposed by some Democrats, judging it an imperfect measure that stemmed from "the divided government that the American people voted for." (The Senate passed the measure the next day.) Illustrator Norman Bridwell, 86, creator of Clifford the Red Dog, died in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.

One year ago:
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s one-time fixer, was sentenced to three years in prison for crimes that included arranging the payment of hush money to conceal Trump’s alleged sexual affairs. British Prime Minister Theresa May survived a political crisis over her Brexit deal, winning a no-confidence vote by Conservative lawmakers that could have brought an end to her leadership. (May announced her resignation as Conservative leader in June of 2019, after her Brexit deal was rejected by Parliament three times.)

Today's Birthdays:
Former TV host Bob Barker is 96. Basketball Hall of Famer Bob Pettit is 87. Singer Connie Francis is 82. Singer Dionne Warwick is 79. Rock singer-musician Dickey Betts is 76. Hall of Fame race car driver Emerson Fittipaldi is 73. Actor Wings Hauser is 72. Actor Bill Nighy is 70. Actor Duane Chase (Film: "The Sound of Music") is 69. Country singer LaCosta is 69. Gymnast-turned-actress Cathy Rigby is 67. Author Lorna Landvik is 65. Singer-musician Sheila E. is 62. Actress Sheree J. Wilson is 61. Pop singer Daniel O'Donnell is 58. International Tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin is 57. Rock musician Eric Schenkman (Spin Doctors) is 56. Rock musician Nicholas Dimichino (Nine Days) is 52. Author Sophie Kinsella is 50. News anchor Maggie Rodriguez is 50. Actress Jennifer Connelly is 49. Actress Madchen Amick is 49. Actress Regina Hall is 49. Country singer Hank Williams III is 47. Actress Mayim Bialik is 44. Model Bridget Hall is 42. Actor Lucas Hedges is 23. Actress Sky Katz is 15.

Thought for Today:
"If you possess something but you can't give it away, then you don't possess it... it possesses you." - Frank Sinatra (1915-1998).