Today in History – December 31

Today is Thursday, Dec. 31, the 365th and final day of 2009. Today is New Year’s Eve.

Today’s Highlight in History

On Dec. 31, 1909, the Manhattan Bridge, spanning the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn, was officially opened to vehicular traffic by New York City Mayor George B. McClellan Jr. on his last day in office.

On this date

In 1600, the East India Company, formed for the exploitation of trade with East and Southeast Asia and India, was incorporated by English royal charter.

In 1759, Arthur Guinness founded his famous brewery at St. James’s Gate in Dublin.

In 1775, the British repulsed an attack by Continental Army generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold at Quebec; Montgomery was killed.

In 1857, Ottawa, located in Ontario at the confluence of the Ottawa, Gatineau, and Rideau rivers and whose area was first described by Samuel de Champlain in 1613, was named the capital of Canada by Queen Victoria.

In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed an act admitting West Virginia to the Union.

In 1869, Henri Matisse, one of the foremost painters of 20th century French art, was born.

In 1879, Thomas Edison first publicly demonstrated his electric incandescent light in Menlo Park, N.J.

In 1946, President Harry S. Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.

In 1961, the Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than $12 billion in foreign aid.

In 1969, Joseph A. Yablonski, an unsuccessful candidate for the presidency of the United Mine Workers of America, was shot to death along with his wife and daughter in their Clarksville, Pa., home by hit men acting under the orders of UMWA president Tony Boyle.

In 1974, private U.S. citizens were allowed to buy and own gold for the first time in more than 40 years.

In 1978, Taiwanese diplomats struck their colors for the final time from the embassy flagpole in Washington, D.C., marking the end of diplomatic relations with the United States.

In 1985, singer Rick Nelson, 45, and six other people were killed when fire broke out aboard a DC-3 that was taking the group to a New Year’s Eve performance in Dallas.

In 1986, 97 people were killed when fire broke out in the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Three hotel workers later pleaded guilty in connection with the blaze.)

In 1993, entertainer Barbra Streisand performed her first paid concert in 22 years, singing to a sellout crowd at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas.

In 1997, Michael Kennedy, the 39-year-old son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, was killed in a skiing accident on Aspen Mountain in Colorado.

In 1999, ten years ago, people around the world celebrated while awaiting the arrival of the year 2000.

In 1999, Russian President Boris Yeltsin announced his resignation (he was succeeded by Vladimir Putin).

In 1999, the eight-day hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane in Afghanistan ended peacefully.

In 1999, the United States prepared to hand over the Panama Canal to Panama at the stroke of midnight.

In 1999, former Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson died in Boston at age 79.

In 2004, five years ago, President George W. Bush pledged $350 million to help tsunami victims, and didn’t rule out sending even more U.S. aid to help people recover from what he called an “epic disaster.”

In 2004, Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych resigned, admitting he had little hope of reversing the presidential election victory of his Western-leaning rival, Viktor Yushchenko.

In 2006, the death toll for Americans killed in the Iraq war reached 3,000.

In 2008, one year ago, the U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting on an Arab request for a binding and enforceable resolution condemning Israel and halting its military attacks on Gaza.

In 2008, a man left four gift-wrapped bombs in downtown Aspen, Colo., in a bank-robbery attempt, turning New Year’s Eve celebrations into a mass evacuation. (The man, identified as 72-year-old James Chester Blanning, shot and killed himself.)

In 2008, a woman gave birth aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 59 while en route from Amsterdam to Boston.

Today’s Birthdays

TV producer George Schlatter is 80. Actor Sir Anthony Hopkins is 72. Actor Tim Considine (“My Three Sons”) is 69. Actress Sarah Miles is 68. Rock musician Andy Summers is 67. Actor Ben Kingsley is 66. Rock musician Peter Quaife (The Kinks) is 66. Producer-director Taylor Hackford is 65. Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg is 63. Actor Tim Matheson is 62. Pop singer Burton Cummings (The Guess Who) is 62. Singer Donna Summer is 61. Actor Joe Dallesandro is 61. Rock musician Tom Hamilton (Aerosmith) is 58. Actor James Remar is 56. Actress Bebe Neuwirth is 51. Actor Val Kilmer is 50. Singer Paul Westerberg is 50. Actor Don Diamont is 47. Rock musician Ric Ivanisevich (Oleander) is 47. Rock musician Scott Ian (Anthrax) is 46. Actress Gong Li is 44. Author Nicholas Sparks is 44. Pop singer Joe McIntyre is 37. Rock musician Mikko Siren (Apocalyptica) is 34. Rock musician Bob Bryar (My Chemical Romance) is 30.

Today’s Historic Birthdays

Jacques Cartier
12/31/1491 – 9/1/1557
French explorer

Charles Cornwallis
12/31/1738 – 10/5/1805
English soldier and statesman

Robert Aitken
12/31/1864 – 10/29/1951
American astronomer

Henri Matisse
12/31/1869 – 11/3/1954
French painter

George C. Marshall
12/31/1880 – 10/16/1959
U.S. Army general

Ben Jones
12/31/1882 – 6/13/1961
American racehorse trainer

Elizabeth Arden
12/31/1878 – 10/18/1966
Canadian-born American cosmetic executive

Nathan Milstein
12/31/1903 – 12/21/1992
Russian-born American violinist

Jules Styne
12/31/1905 – 9/20/1994
American songwriter

Thought for Today

“No one ever regarded the first of January with indifference. It is the nativity of our common Adam.” – Charles Lamb, English essayist and author (1775-1834).


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Today in History – December 30

Today is Wednesday, Dec. 30, the 364th day of 2009. There is 1 day left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History

On Dec. 30, 1853, the United States and Mexico signed a treaty under which the U.S. agreed to buy some 45,000 square miles of land from Mexico for $10 million in a deal known as the Gadsden Purchase.

On this date

In 1813, the British burned Buffalo, N.Y., during the War of 1812.

In 1865, author Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay, India.

In 1873, Alfred Smith, the four-time governor of New York State and 1928 presidential candidate, was born.

In 1902,  a new southing record was set by Robert Falcon Scott, in company with Ernest Henry Shackleton and E.A. Wilson, as they reached the Ross Ice Shelf at the head of the Ross Sea in Antarctica.

In 1903, about 600 people died when fire broke out at the recently opened Iroquois Theater in Chicago.

In 1907, the Mills Commission issued its final report, concluding that Abner Doubleday had invented baseball, a view few sports historians, if any, agree with.

In 1911, Sun Yat-sen was elected the first president of the Republic of China.

In 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, formed this day in 1922 with its capital in Moscow, eventually incorporated 15 republics and constituted (in area) the largest country in the world until its dissolution in 1991.

In 1928, Rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Bo Diddley was born Ellas Bates in McComb, Miss.

In 1936, the United Auto Workers union staged its first “sit-down” strike, at the Fisher Body Plant No. 1 in Flint, Mich.

In 1940, California’s first freeway, the Arroyo Seco Parkway connecting Los Angeles and Pasadena, was officially opened.

In 1947, King Michael of Romania agreed to abdicate, but charged he was being forced off the throne by Communists.

In 1948, the Cole Porter musical “Kiss Me, Kate” opened on Broadway.

In 1972, the United States halted its heavy bombing of North Vietnam.

In 1978, Ohio State University fired Woody Hayes as its football coach, one day after Hayes punched a Clemson University player during a game.

In 1979, Broadway composer Richard Rodgers died in New York at age 77.

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan and President-elect George H.W. Bush were subpoenaed to testify as defense witnesses in the pending Iran-Contra trial of Oliver North. (The subpoenas were subsequently quashed.)

In 1989, a Northwest Airlines DC-10, which had been the target of a telephoned threat, flew safely from Paris to Detroit with 22 passengers amid extra-tight security.

In 1993, Israel and the Vatican agreed to recognize one another.

In 1994, a gunman walked into a pair of suburban Boston abortion clinics and opened fire, killing two employees. (John C. Salvi III was later convicted of murder; he died in prison, an apparent suicide.)

In 1997, armed men massacred 412 men, women and children in four mountain villages in Algeria.

In 1999, ten years ago, former Beatle George Harrison fought off a knife-wielding intruder who broke into his mansion west of London and stabbed him in the chest. (Michael Abram was later acquitted of attempted murder by reason of insanity.)

In 1999, in Tampa, Fla., a gunman opened fire inside a hotel, killing four co-workers before shooting a fifth person dead as he tried to escape. (A suspect, housekeeper Silvio Izquierdo-Leyva, later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.)

In 2003, the federal government announced it would ban the sale of ephedra, an herbal stimulant linked to 155 deaths and dozens of heart attacks and strokes.

In 2004, five years ago, Democrat Christine Gregoire was declared victor of Washington’s gubernatorial election over Republican Dino Rossi by a mere 129 votes out of more than 2.8 million cast.

In 2004, a fire broke out during a rock concert at a nightclub in Buenos Aires, Argentina, killing 194 people.

In 2004, dandleader and clarinetist Artie Shaw died in Thousand Oaks, Calif., at age 94.

In 2006, former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was hanged.

In 2007, Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of an election that opponents and observers alleged was rigged; violence flared in Nairobi slums and coastal resort towns, killing scores in the following days.

In 2008, one year ago, in a surprise move, a defiant Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich named former state Attorney General Roland Burris to Barack Obama’s Senate seat.

In 2008, Israeli aircraft kept up a relentless string of attacks on Hamas-ruled Gaza, smashing a government complex, security installations and the home of a top militant commander.

In 2008, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a law extending presidential terms from four years to six.

Today’s Birthdays

Actor Joseph Bologna is 75. Actor Russ Tamblyn is 75. Baseball Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax is 74. Actor Jack Riley is 74. Folk singer Noel Paul Stookey is 72. TV director James Burrows is 69. Actor Fred Ward is 67. Singer-musician Michael Nesmith is 67. Singer Davy Jones is 64. Actress Concetta Tomei is 64. Singer Patti Smith is 63. Rock singer-musician Jeff Lynne is 62. TV host Meredith Vieira is 56. Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph is 54. Actress Patricia Kalember is 53. Country singer Suzy Bogguss is 53. “Today” show anchor Matt Lauer is 52. Actress-comedian Tracey Ullman is 50. Rock musician Rob Hotchkiss is 49. Radio-TV commentator Sean Hannity is 48. Track star Ben Johnson is 48. Actor George Newbern is 46. Singer Jay Kay (Jamiroquai) is 40. Rock musician Byron McMackin (Pennywise) is 40. Actress Meredith Monroe is 40. Actor Daniel Sunjata is 38. Actress Maureen Flannigan is 37. Actor Jason Behr is 36. Golfer Tiger Woods is 34. TV personality-boxer Laila Ali is 32. Singer-actress Tyrese Gibson is 31. Actress Eliza Dushku is 29. Rock musician Tim Lopez (Plain White T’s) is 29. Actress Kristin Kreuk is 27. Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James is 25.

Today’s Historic Birthdays

John Milne
12/30/1850 – 7/30/1913
English seismologist and geologist; inventor of the seismograph

Asa Griggs Candler
12/30/1851 – 3/12/1929
American developer of Coca-Cola

Rudyard Kipling
12/30/1865 – 1/18/1936
English writer

Alfred Smith
12/30/1873 – 10/4/1944
American politician and four-time governor of New York State

Ramana Maharshi
12/30/1879 – 4/14/1950
Hindu philosopher and yogi

Alfred Einstein
12/30/1880 – 2/13/1952
German-born American musicologist and critic

Sir Carol Reed
12/30/1906 – 4/25/1976
English film director

Bert Parks
12/30/1914 – 2/2/1992
American game show host

Thought for Today

“Work is a dull thing; you cannot get away from that. The only agreeable existence is one of idleness, and that is not, unfortunately, always compatible with continuing to exist at all.” – Rose Macaulay, English poet and essayist (1881-1958).


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Today in History – December 29

Today is Tuesday, Dec. 29, the 363rd day of 2009. There are 2 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History

On Dec. 29, 1170, Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by knights loyal to King Henry II.

On this date

In 1808, the 17th president of the United States, Andrew Johnson, and the first American president to be impeached, was born in Raleigh, N.C.

In 1809, British Prime Minister William E. Gladstone was born in Liverpool.

In 1845, Texas was admitted as the 28th state.

In 1851, the first YMCA in the U.S. was organized, in Boston.

In 1890, the Wounded Knee massacre took place in South Dakota as an estimated 300 Sioux Indians were killed by U.S. troops sent to disarm them.

In 1916, Grigory Rasputin, the so-called “Mad Monk” who’d wielded great influence with Czar Nicholas II, was murdered by a group of Russian noblemen in St. Petersburg, Russia.

In 1934, Japan formally renounced the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922.

In 1940, during World War II, Germany dropped incendiary bombs on London, setting off what came to be known as “The Second Great Fire of London.”

In 1957, singers Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme were wed in Las Vegas.

In 1975, a bomb exploded in the main terminal of New York’s LaGuardia Airport, killing 11 people.

In 1986, former British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan died at his home in Sussex, England, at age 92.

In 1989, playwright Vaclav Havel was elected president of Czechoslovakia by the country’s Federal Assembly, becoming the first non-Communist to hold the post in more than four decades.

In 1996,war-weary guerrilla and government leaders in Guatemala signed an accord ending 36 years of civil conflict.

In 1998, Khmer Rouge leaders apologized for the 1970s genocide in Cambodia that claimed 1 million lives.

In 1999, ten years ago, the Nasdaq composite index closed above 4,000 for the first time, ending the day at 4,041.46.

In 2004, five years ago, President George W. Bush assembled a four-nation coalition to organize humanitarian relief for Asia and made clear the United States would help bankroll long-term rebuilding in the region leveled by a massive earthquake and tsunamis.

In 2004, Bush denounced Osama bin Laden’s call to boycott the Iraqi elections, saying that the balloting would mark a crossroads for Iraq.

In 2007, the New England Patriots became the first NFL team in 35 years to finish the regular season undefeated when they beat the New York Giants 38-35 to go 16-0.

In 2008, one year ago, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s lawyer responded to impeachment charges, saying a vague array of charges and evidence did not merit removing his client from office.

In 2008, Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf resigned, saying he had lost control of the country to Islamic insurgents.

In 2008, the African Union suspended Guinea after a coup in the West African nation.

In 2008, Grammy-winning jazz musician Freddie Hubbard died in Sherman Oaks, Calif., at age 70.

In 2008, French fashion designer Ted Lapidus died in Cannes at age 79.

Today’s Birthdays

Actress Inga Swenson is 77. ABC newscaster Tom Jarriel is 75. Actress Mary Tyler Moore is 73. Actor Jon Voight is 71. Country singer Ed Bruce is 70. Rock musician Ray Thomas is 68. Singer Marianne Faithfull is 63. Jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. is 63. Actor Ted Danson is 62. Actor Jon Polito is 59. Singer-actress Yvonne Elliman is 58. Actress Patricia Clarkson is 50. Comedian Paula Poundstone is 50. Rock singer-musician Jim Reid (The Jesus and Mary Chain) is 48. Actor Michael Cudlitz is 45. Rock singer Dexter Holland (The Offspring) is 44. Actor-comedian Mystro Clark is 43. Actor Jason Gould is 43. Movie director Andy Wachowski is 42. Actress Jennifer Ehle is 40. Actor Patrick Fischler is 40. Rock singer-musician Glen Phillips is 39. Actor Kevin Weisman is 39. Actor Jude Law is 37. Actor Mekhi Phifer is 35. Actor Shawn Hatosy is 34. Actress Katherine Moennig is 32. Actor Diego Luna is 30. Country singer Jessica Andrews is 26.

Today’s Historic Birthdays

Jeanne-Antoinette Pompadour
12/29/1721 – 4/15/1764
French mistress of Louis XV

Charles Macintosh
12/29/1766 – 7/25/1843
Scottish chemist and inventor

Charles Goodyear
12/29/1800 – 7/1/1860
American inventor; pioneered commercial use of rubber

Andrew Johnson
12/29/1808 – 7/31/1875
17th President of the United States (1865-69)

William Gladstone
12/29/1809 – 5/19/1898
English statesman and four-time prime minister (1868-74, 1880-85, 1886, 1892-94)

Pablo Casals
12/29/1876 – 10/22/1973
Spanish cellist and conductor

William Mitchell
12/29/1879 – 2/19/1936
U.S. Army officer and early advocate of a separate air force

Jess Willard
12/29/1881 – 12/15/1968
American prizefighter

Klaus Fuchs
12/29/1911 – 1/28/1988
German-born American physicist and spy

William Gaddis
12/29/1922 – 12/16/1998
American novelist

Thought for Today

“The wise man must be wise before, not after.” – Epicharmus, Sicilian Greek comic poet (? – c.450 B.C.)


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Today in History – December 28

Today is Monday, Dec. 28, the 362nd day of 2009. There are 3 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History

On Dec. 28, 1832, John C. Calhoun became the first vice president of the United States to resign, stepping down because of differences with President Andrew Jackson.

On this date

In 1065, the original Westminster Abbey, located in London, was consecrated and opened this day in 1065 by Edward the Confessor and became the site of coronations and other ceremonies of national significance in England.

In 1694, Queen Mary II of England died after more than five years of joint rule with her husband, King William III.

In 1832, John C. Calhoun became the first vice president of the United States to resign, stepping down over 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 1895, cinema was born. The organisers of the showing were the brothers August and Louis Lumière, the sons of the well known photographer Antoine Lumière from Lyon.

The two brothers are now viewed as being the inventors of the cinema. There had however been public film showings before this: the German brothers Skladonowsky for instance had presented a programme of films in the Berlin Varieté Wintergarten in November 1895.

In addition to the French brothers, Georges Mélies is also seen to have decisively paved the way for the cinema. Whilst the brothers principally shot those films that are now described as documentary films, Mélies added the dimension of fantasy to the film business which is perhaps not surprising given that he had previously earned his living as a magician.

Mélies was present at that legendary showing in the Grand Café at the end of December. Years later he recalled his encounter with Lumière: “‘Monsieur Mélies, you have the habit of astonishing your audiences. I would like to see in the Grand Café this evening’- ‘ Why?’ I asked him. ‘You will see something that will astonish you.’ To begin with he projected static images with his projector, as we usually did during our showings. I said: ‘We have been doing that for 20 years!” He had deliberately let the image stand still for some time. I then suddenly saw that the people on the screen were moving towards us. We were all completely baffled!”

30 years later the next quantum leap in the history of cinema was achieved with the introduction of sound films. The voice of the American singer Al Jolson was the first thing to be heard in a sound film.

Now cinema, which then went from strength to strength, has overtaken theatre, arts and literature in terms of his impact upon the public. Only the heroes of popular music are still able to keep up in terms of their mass suggestion and popularity.

What keeps the cinema together, why is the seventh art so attractive? One of most attractive definitions of film was provided by the American producer Sam Fuller in Jean-Luc Godard’s “Pierrot le Fou”.

Nowadays cinema sometimes reminds us of a giant, extravagant ocean liner, that is magnificent to watch, full of luxury items, but somehow immobile and on a collision course.

But there is still hope. In recent years many filmmakers have reflected on the cinema’s beginnings with the objective of astonishing the viewers with the most simple means, just as the Lumière brothers did – it is not a bad approach! 

In 1897, brothers Charles and Emile Pathé founded the first film production company in the world, “Pathé Cinéma”. By 1908, the brothers already controlled a third of the world cinema market. The first Pathé producers were Ferdinand Zecca, Léon Gaumont and his secretary Alice Guy – the world’s first female producer. They usually shot one or two films per week, and motivated by profit, had no time to make complex or artistic films. The “Pathé Cinéma” held onto its monopoly until the rise of the US company that made Hollywood into a “film factory”.

In 1897, the play “Cyrano de Bergerac,” by Edmond Rostand, premiered in Paris.

In 1905, Earl “Fatha” Hines, the father of modern jazz piano, was born.

In 1905, the forerunner of the NCAA, the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States, was founded in New York City.

In 1908, a major earthquake followed by a tsunami devastated the Italian city of Messina, killing at least 70,000 people.

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.

In 1944, the musical “On the Town,” with music by Leonard Bernstein and book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, opened on Broadway.

In 1945, Congress officially recognized the Pledge of Allegiance.

In 1958, the Baltimore Colts won the NFL championship, defeating the New York Giants 23-17 in overtime at Yankee Stadium, in what has been dubbed the greatest football game ever played.

In 1973, Alexander Solzhenitsyn published “Gulag Archipelago,” an expose of the Soviet prison system.

In 1981, Elizabeth Jordan Carr, the first American test-tube baby, was born in Norfolk, Va.

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 1989, Alexander Dubcek, the former Czechoslovak Communist leader who was deposed in a Soviet-led Warsaw Pact invasion in 1968, was named president of the country’s parliament.

In 1999, ten years ago, Clayton Moore, television’s “Lone Ranger,” died in West Hills, Calif., at age 85.

In 2004, five years ago. the U.S. Agency for International Development said it was adding $20 million to an initial $15 million contribution for Asian tsunami relief as Secretary of State Colin Powell bristled at a U.N. official’s suggestion the United States was being “stingy.”

In 2004, activist and author Susan Sontag died in New York at age 71.

In 2004, actor Jerry Orbach died in New York at age 69.

In 2005, former top Enron Corp. accountant Richard Causey pleaded guilty to securities fraud and agreed to help pursue convictions against Enron founder Kenneth Lay and former CEO Jeffrey Skilling.

In 2008, one year ago, a bomb-loaded SUV exploded at a military checkpoint in Afghanistan, claiming the lives of 14 schoolchildren in a heartbreaking flash captured by a U.S. security camera.

In 2008, the Detroit Lions completed an 0-16 season – the NFL’s worst ever – with a 31-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Today’s Birthdays

Comic book creator Stan Lee is 87. Former United Auto Workers union president Owen Bieber is 80. Actor Martin Milner is 78. Actress Nichelle Nichols is 77. Actress Dame Maggie Smith is 75. Rock singer-musician Charles Neville is 71. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., is 65. Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., is 63. Rock singer-musician Edgar Winter is 63. Rock singer-musician Alex Chilton (The Box Tops; Big Star) is 59. Actor Denzel Washington is 55. Country singer Joe Diffie is 51. Country musician Mike McGuire (Shenandoah) is 51. Actor Chad McQueen is 49. Country singer-musician Marty Roe (Diamond Rio) is 49. Actor Malcolm Gets is 45. Actor Mauricio Mendoza is 40. Comedian Seth Meyers is 36. Actor Brendan Hines is 33. R&B singer John Legend is 31. Actress Sienna Miller is 28. Actor Thomas Dekker is 22. Actress Mackenzie Rosman is 20. Pop singer David Archuleta (“American Idol”) is 19.

Today’s Historic Birthdays

Thomas Henderson
12/28/1798 – 11/23/1844
Scottish astronomer

Edward Levy-Lawson Burnham
12/28/1833 – 1/9/1916
English creator of London Daily Telegraph newspaper

Woodrow Wilson
12/28/1856 – 2/3/1924
28th President of the United States (1913-21)

Frederick Pethick-Lawrence
12/28/1871 – 9/10/1961
English women’s suffrage movement leader

William Draper Harkins
12/28/1873 – 3/7/1951
American chemist

Sir Arthur Eddington
12/28/1882 – 11/22/1944
English astrophysicist

Carl-Gustaf Rossby
12/28/1898 – 8/19/1957
Swedish meteorologist

Earl “Fatha” Hines
12/28/1905 – 4/22/1983
American jazz pianist, bandleader and composer

Lew Ayres
12/28/1908 – 12/30/1996
American actor

Manuel Puig
12/28/1932 – 7/22/1990
Argentine novelist and screenwriter

Thought for Today

“Our chief defect is that we are more given to talking about things than to doing them.” – Jawaharlal Nehru, Indian statesman (1889-1964).


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Today in History – December 27

Today is Sunday, Dec. 27, the 361st day of 2009. There are four days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History

On Dec. 27, 1968, Apollo 8 and its three astronauts made a safe, nighttime splashdown in the Pacific.

On this date

In 1512, Ferdinand II issued the Laws of Burgos to “regulate the relations” between Spaniards and Indians in Spain’s American colonies.

In 1822, scientist Louis Pasteur was born in Dole, France.

In 1831, British naturalist Charles Darwin set out on a voyage to the Pacific Ocean aboard the HMS Beagle. Darwin’s discoveries during the nearly five-year journey helped form the basis of his theories on evolution.

In 1900, prohibitionist Carry Nation carried out her first public smashing of a bar, at the Carey Hotel in Wichita, Kan.

In 1901, Marlene Dietrich, the magnetic movie star and singer who was considered an international symbol of glamour, was born.

In 1904, James Barrie’s play “Peter Pan: The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up” opened at the Duke of York’s Theater in London.

In 1927, the musical “Show Boat,” with music by Jerome Kern and libretto by Oscar Hammerstein II, opened at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York.

In 1932, Radio City Music Hall opened in New York City.

In 1945, 28 nations signed an agreement creating the World Bank.

In 1949, Queen Juliana of the Netherlands signed an act recognizing Indonesia’s sovereignty after more than three centuries of Dutch rule.

In 1959, the Baltimore Colts defeated the New York Giants 31-16 to win the NFL championship.

In 1968, Apollo 8, the first spaceflight to orbit the moon, returned to Earth.

In 1970, “Hello, Dolly!” closed on Broadway after a run of 2,844 performances.

In 1979, Soviet forces seized control of Afghanistan. President Hafizullah Amin, who was overthrown and executed, was replaced by Babrak Karmal.

In 1985, Palestinian guerrillas opened fire inside the Rome and Vienna airports; a total of 20 people were killed, including four of the attackers, who were slain by police and security personnel.

In 1985, naturalist Dian Fossey, who had studied gorillas in the wild, was found hacked to death at a research station in Rwanda.

In 1999, ten years ago, space shuttle Discovery and its seven-member crew returned to Earth after fixing the Hubble Space Telescope.

In 1999, former television executive Leonard H. Goldenson, who’d built ABC into a network powerhouse, died in Longboat Key, Fla., at age 94.

In 2001, U.S. officials announced that Taliban and al-Qaida prisoners would be held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In 2002, North Korea ordered U.N. nuclear inspectors to leave the country and said it would restart a laboratory capable of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons.

In 2004, five years ago, the death toll continued to rise in southern Asia in the wake of a huge tsunami triggered by a monster earthquake underneath the Indian Ocean.

In 2004, opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko declared victory in Ukraine’s fiercely contested presidential election.

In 2004, in an audiotape, a man purported to be Osama bin Laden endorsed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as his deputy in Iraq and called for a boycott of January’s elections.

In 2005, Indonesia’s Aceh rebels formally abolished their 30-year armed struggle for independence under a peace deal born out of the 2004 tsunami.

In 2007, opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in Pakistan by an attacker who shot her after a campaign rally and then blew himself up.

In 2008, one year ago, Israel bombed security sites in Hamas-ruled Gaza in retaliation for rocket fire aimed at civilians in southern Israeli towns, opening one of the Mideast conflict’s bloodiest assaults in decades.

In 2008, tens of thousands of people in Pakistan paid homage to Benazir Bhutto on the one-year anniversary of her assassination.

In 2008, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s 18-year-old daughter Bristol gave birth to a son, Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston.

In 2008, sculptor Robert Graham died in Santa Monica, Calif., at age 70.

Today’s Birthdays

Former U.S. Sen. James A. McClure, R-Idaho, is 85. Rockabilly musician Scotty Moore is 78. Actor John Amos is 70. Actress Charmian Carr (“The Sound of Music”) is 67. ABC News correspondent Cokie Roberts is 66. Rock musician Mick Jones (Foreigner) is 65. Singer Tracy Nelson is 65. Actor Gerard Depardieu is 61. Jazz singer-musician T.S. Monk is 60. Singer-songwriter Karla Bonoff is 58. Actress Tovah Feldshuh is 57. Rock musician David Knopfler (Dire Straits) is 57. Journalist-turned-politician Arthur Kent is 56. Actress Maryam D’Abo is 49. Country musician Jeff Bryant is 47. Actor Ian Gomez is 45. Actress Theresa Randle is 45. Actress Eva LaRue is 43. Pro wrestler and actor Bill Goldberg is 43. Actress Tracey Cherelle Jones is 40. Bluegrass singer-musician Darrin Vincent (Dailey & Vincent) is 40. Rock musician Guthrie Govan is 38. Musician Matt Slocum is 37. Actor Wilson Cruz is 36. Singer Olu is 36. Actor Masi Oka is 35. Actress Emilie de Ravin is 28. Christian rock musician James Mead (Kutless) is 27. Rock singer Hayley Williams (Paramore) is 21.

Today’s Historic Birthdays

Johannes Kepler
12/27/1571 – 11/15/1630
German astronomer

William Johnson
12/27/1771 – 8/4/1834
American Supreme Court justice

Sir George Cayley
12/27/1773 – 12/15/1857
English aerial navigator

Louis Pasteur
12/27/1822 – 9/28/1895
French biologist and chemist; invented pasteurization process

Sir Mackenzie Bowell
12/27/1823 – 12/10/1917
Canadian prime minister

Cyrus Eaton
12/27/1883 – 5/9/1979
Canadian-born American industrialist and philanthropist

Louis Bromfield
12/27/1896 – 3/18/1956
American novelist and essayist

Marlene Dietrich
12/27/1901 – 5/6/1992
German-born American actress

Thought for Today

“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” – Gertrude Stein, American author (1874-1946).


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Today in History – December 26

Today is Saturday, Dec. 26th, the 360th day of 2009. There are 5 days left in the year. The seven-day African-American holiday Kwanzaa begins today. This is Boxing Day.

Today’s Highlight in History

On Dec. 26, 1799, former President George Washington was eulogized by Col. Henry Lee as “first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

On this date

In 1647,  Charles I and the Scots reached a secret agreement, whereby the Scots offered to support the king’s restoration to power in return for his acceptance of Presbyterianism in Scotland and its establishment in England for three years.

In 1776, the British suffered a major defeat in the Battle of Trenton during the Revolutionary War.

In 1865, James H. Nason of Franklin, Mass., received a patent for a coffee percolator.

In 1893, Mao Tse-tung, the Chinese statesman who led the communist revolution in China and became its first communist leader, was born.

In 1908, Jack Johnson became the first African-American boxer to win the world heavyweight championship as he defeated Canadian Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia.

In 1909, illustrator Frederic Remington died in Ridgefield, Conn., at age 48.

In 1917, during World War I, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation authorizing the government to take over operation of the nation’s railroads.

In 1941, Winston Churchill became the first British prime minister to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress.

In 1943, the German battle cruiser Scharnhorst was sunk by the British battleship Duke of York during World War II.

In 1944, during the World War II Battle of the Bulge, the embattled U.S. 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne, Belgium, was relieved by units of the 4th Armored Division.

In 1944, Tennessee Williams’ play “The Glass Menagerie” premiered at the Civic Theatre in Chicago.

In 1947, heavy snow blanketed the Northeast, burying New York City under 26.4 inches of snow in 16 hours; the severe weather was blamed for some 80 deaths.

In 1972, the 33rd president of the United States, Harry S. Truman, died in Kansas City, Mo., at age 88.

In 1974, comedian Jack Benny died at age 80.

In 1996, 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was found beaten and strangled in the basement of her family’s home in Boulder, Colo. (To date, the slaying remains unsolved, despite a widely publicized “confession” by John Mark Karr.)

In 1999, ten years ago, the crew of space shuttle Discovery packed up its tools and prepared to return home after an eight-day mission of repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope that NASA declared a success.

In 1999, Alfonso Portillo, a populist lawyer, scored a resounding victory in Guatemala’s first peacetime presidential elections in nearly 40 years.

In 1999, soul singer and songwriter Curtis Mayfield died in Roswell, Ga., at age 57.

In 2004, five years ago, more than 200,000 people, mostly in southern Asia, were killed by a tsunami triggered by a powerful earthquake beneath the Indian Ocean.

In 2004, an unmanned cargo ship docked at the international space station, ending a shortage that forced astronauts to ration supplies.

In 2004, Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts broke Dan Marino’s single-season touchdown pass record when he threw his 48th and 49th of the season against San Diego. (The Colts defeated San Diego in overtime, 34-31.)

In 2004, Reggie White, one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history, died in North Carolina at age 43.

In 2006, former President Gerald R. Ford died in Rancho Mirage, Calif., at age 93.

In 2008, One year ago: Caroline Kennedy emerged from weeks of near-silence about her bid for a New York Senate seat; in an interview with The Associated Press and NY1 television, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy said she felt compelled to answer the call to service issued by her father a generation earlier. (Kennedy later dropped her bid; Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed by New York Gov. David Paterson.)

Today’s Birthdays

Actor Donald Moffat is 79. Actor Caroll Spinney (Big Bird on “Sesame Street”) is 76. R&B singer Abdul “Duke” Fakir (The Four Tops) is 74. Record producer Phil Spector is 70. “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh is 64. Country musician Bob Carpenter (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) is 63. Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk is 62. All-Star baseball player Chris Chambliss is 61. Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith is 55. Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., is 54. Humorist David Sedaris is 53. Rock musician James Kottak (The Scorpions) is 47. Country musician Brian Westrum (Sons of the Desert) is 47. Rock musician Lars Ulrich (Metallica) is 46. Actress Nadia Dajani is 44. Rock musician J is 42. Country singer Audrey Wiggins is 42. Rock musician Peter Klett (Candlebox) is 40. Rock singer James Mercer (The Shins; Flake) is 39. Actor-singer Jared Leto is 38. Rock singer Chris Daughtry is 30. Actress Eden Sher is 18. Actor Zach Mills is 14.

Today’s Historic Birthdays

Frederick II, the Great king of Prussia, who remains one of the most famous German rulers of all time, was born. His military successes and his domestic reforms made Prussia one of the leading nations in Europe.

Thomas Gray
12/26/1716 – 7/30/1771
English poet

Charles Babbage
12/26/1791 – 10/18/1871
English mathematician and inventor

Dion Boucicault
12/26/1820 – 9/18/1890
Irish-born American playwright and actor

George Dewey
12/26/1837 – 1/16/1917
American naval commander

Sir Norman Angell
12/26/1872 – 10/7/1967
English economist and Nobel Peace Prize winner

Henry Miller
12/26/1891 – 6/7/1980
American novelist

Mao Tse-tung
12/26/1893 – 9/9/1976
Chinese statesman and leader of his nation’s communist revolution

Leopold Mannes
12/26/1899 – 8/11/1964
American co-developer of Kodachrome film

Thought for Today

“Christmas has come and gone, and I – to speak selfishly – am glad of it. The season always gives me the blues in spite of myself, though I manage to get a good deal of pleasure from thinking of the multitudes of happy kids in various parts of the world.” – Edwin Arlington Robinson, American poet (1869-1935).


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Today in History – December 25

Today is Friday, Dec. 25th, the 359th day of 2009. There are 6 days left in the year. This is Christmas Day.

Today’s Highlight in History

On Dec. 25, 1818, “Silent Night,” written by Franz Gruber and Father Joseph Mohr, was performed for the first time, at the Church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria.

On this date

In A.D. 336, the first recorded celebration of Christmas on Dec. 25 took place in Rome. Though the precise origin of the date is unclear, Christmas, commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, is celebrated on this day, having been first identified as the date of Jesus’ birth by Sextus Julius Africanus in 221.

In 800, while Charlemagne knelt in prayer in Saint Peter’s in Rome, Pope Leo III placed a golden crown on the bowed head of the king. becoming the first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

In 1066, William the Conqueror was crowned king of England.

In 1223, St. Francis of Assisi assembled one of the first Nativity scenes, in Greccio, Italy.

In 1776, Gen. George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River for a surprise attack against Hessian forces at Trenton, N.J.

In 1821, Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, was born in Oxford, Mass.

In 1830, the first regularly scheduled passenger train in the United States began operation. Chartered in 1827, the same year as the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company steamed out of Charleston along a six mile line of track. According to the previous day’s Charleston Mercury regular times for leaving the station would be “8 o’clock, at 10 A.M., at 1, and at half past 3.”

The new service’s locomotive steam engine, named Best Friend, purchased from one Mr. E. L. Miller, was the first in the U.S. to pull an entire string of cars. According to the Mercury article, “It is said to have moved on some occasions at the rate of 30 miles per hour…When drawing two Cars with 41 Passengers, it went at the average rate of nearly 16 and where the Road was straight, at the rate of 20…per hour.” This breakneck speed was achieved by a six horse power engine weighing three tons “exclusive of the wood and water for keeping it in continued action.”

In 1868, President Andrew Johnson granted an unconditional pardon to everyone involved in the Southern rebellion that resulted in the Civil War.

In 1918, Anwar el-Sadat, the Egyptian president who won the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating a peace treaty with Israel, was born.

In 1926, Hirohito became emperor of Japan, succeeding his father, Emperor Yoshihito. (Hirohito was formally enthroned almost two years later.)

In 1941, during World War II, Japan announced the surrender of the British-Canadian garrison at Hong Kong.

In 1946, comedian W.C. Fields died in Pasadena, Calif., at age 66.

In 1977, comedian Charlie Chaplin died in Switzerland at age 88.

In 1979, the Soviet Union began its occupation of Afghanistan during the Afghan War.

In 1989, ousted Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, were executed following a popular uprising.

In 1989, former baseball manager Billy Martin died in a traffic accident in Fenton, N.Y.

In 1991, Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev went on television to announce his resignation as the eighth and final leader of a communist superpower that had already gone out of existence.

In 1999, ten years ago, space shuttle Discovery’s astronauts finished their repair job on the Hubble Space Telescope and released it back into orbit.

In 1999, a Cuban airplane crashed in northern Venezuela, killing all 22 aboard.

In 2002, Katie Hnida became the first woman to play in a Division I football game when she attempted an extra point for New Mexico against UCLA in the Las Vegas Bowl.

In 2004, five years ago, President George W. Bush urged Americans to help the neediest among them by volunteering to care for the sick, the elderly and the poor in a Christmas day call for compassion.

In 2006, James Brown, the “Godfather of Soul,” died of heart failure in Atlanta at age 73.

In 2008, one year ago, Pope Benedict XVI urged a world confronting a financial crisis, conflict, and increasing poverty not to lose hope at Christmas, but to join in “authentic solidarity” to prevent global ruin.

In 2008, President-elect Barack Obama spent a private Christmas Day with family and close friends in Hawaii.

In 2008, singer, dancer and actress Eartha Kitt died in Weston, Conn., at 81.

In 2008, actress Ann Savage died in Los Angeles at 87.

Today’s Birthdays

Singer Tony Martin is 96. Actor Dick Miller is 81. Author Anne Roiphe is 74. Actress Hanna Schygulla is 66. R&B singer John Edwards (The Spinners) is 65. Actor Gary Sandy is 64. Singer Jimmy Buffett is 63. Pro and College Football Hall-of-Famer Larry Csonka is 63. Country singer Barbara Mandrell is 61. Actress Sissy Spacek is 60. Former White House adviser Karl Rove is 59. Actress CCH Pounder is 57. Singer Annie Lennox is 55. Reggae singer-musician Robin Campbell (UB40) is 55. Country singer Steve Wariner is 55. Singer Shane MacGowan (The Pogues, The Popes) is 52. Baseball Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson is 51. The Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Christina Romer, is 51. Actress Klea Scott is 41. Rock musician Noel Hogan (The Cranberries) is 38. Singer Dido is 38. Rock singer Mac Powell (Third Day) is 37. R&B singer Ryan Shaw is 29. Country singer Alecia Elliott is 27. Pop singers Jess and Lisa Origliasso (The Veronicas) are 25.

Today’s Historic Birthdays

Clara Barton
12/25/1821 – 4/12/1912
Founder of the American Red Cross

Louis Chevrolet
12/25/1878 – 6/6/1941
French-born American automobile designer

Maurice Utrillo
12/25/1883 – 11/5/1955
French painter

Franz Rosenzweig
12/25/1886 – 12/10/1929
German-Jewish philosopher

Conrad Hilton
12/25/1887 – 1/3/1979
American businessman; founded Hilton Hotels chain

Robert Ripley
12/25/1890 – 5/27/1949
American newspaper cartoonist; founded “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!”

Humphrey Bogart
12/25/1899 – 1/14/1957
American actor

Cab Calloway
12/25/1907 – 11/18/1994
American jazz composer, singer and bandleader

Anwar el-Sadat
12/25/1918 – 10/6/1981
Egyptian president (1970-81); signed historic peace treaty with Israel

Rod Serling
12/25/1924 – 6/28/1975
American television writer and producer

Thought for Today

“It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you … yes, it is Christmas every time you smile at your brother and offer him your hand.” – Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997).


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