Today's Highlight in History:
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. [See our note below. — Ed.]
On this date:
In 1170, Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral in England by knights loyal to King Henry II.
In 1808, the 17th president of the United States, Andrew Johnson, was born in Raleigh, North Carolina.
In 1813, British forces burned Buffalo, N.Y., during the War of 1812.
In 1845, Texas was admitted as the 28th state.
In 1851, the first American Young Men's Christian Association was organized, in Boston. [We all know what that led to, don't we? — Ed.]
In 1890, the last major battle of the Indian Wars, at Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota, took place with hundreds of Indian men, women, and children massacred. [Battle or massacre? Get your lies straight, Associated Press. — Ed.]
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. [Note from infoplease.com: Extra credit: Rasputin died on 30 December under the modern (Gregorian) calendar, on 17 December under the old (Julian) calendar; Russia didn't adopt the modern calendar until after the Revolution of 1917. Some sources list the death date as the 29th (or 16th) of December, on the theory that Rasputin died before midnight on the night of his murder.]
In 1934, Japan renounced the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and the London Naval Treaty of 1930.
In 1937, the Constitution of Ireland, changing the Irish Free State into Eire, went into effect.
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, the Detroit Lions defeated the Cleveland Browns, 59-14, to win the NFL Championship at Briggs Stadium in Detroit.
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 age 92.
In 1989, playwright Vaclav Havel was elected president of Czechoslovakia by the country's Federal Assembly, becoming the first non-Communist to attain the post in more than four decades.
In 1996, a peace agreement was signed, ending 36 years of conflict in Guatemala.
Ten years ago: Hong Kong began killing 1.4 million chickens to stem the spread of a mysterious bird flu that had already killed four people.
In 1998, Khmer Rouge leaders apologized for the 1970s genocide in Cambodia that claimed 1 million lives. ["Well excuuuuuse us!" — Ed.]
Five years ago: Secretary of State Colin Powell, making the rounds of the Sunday TV talk shows, said there was still time to find a diplomatic resolution to North Korea's development of nuclear weapons, and that the situation hadn't yet reached the crisis stage.
One year ago: Word reached the United States of the execution of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein (because of the time difference, it was the morning of December 30th in Iraq when the hanging took place). In a statement, President Bush called Saddam's execution a milestone on Iraq's road to democracy. Gerald R. Ford's flag-draped casket was carried into a church in Palm Desert, California, for a public viewing that marked the start of six days of mourning for the former president. More than 400 people died when a crowded Indonesian ferry sank in the Java Sea.
Today's Birthdays: Actor Clarence Swensen ("The Wizard of Oz") is 90. Actress Inga Swenson is 75. ABC newscaster Tom Jarriel is 73. Actress Mary Tyler Moore is 70. Actor Jon Voight is 69. Country singer Ed Bruce is 68. Rock musician Ray Thomas is 66.
Born on This Date, But Not Celebrating: Charles Goodyear, invented vulcanized rubber (1800). William Gladstone, British Prime Mininster (1809). Pablo Casals, virtuoso cellist (1876). William "Billy" Mitchell, military aviator (1879). Vera Brittain, novelist, poet (1893).
Today In Entertainment History:
In 1955, 13-year-old Barbra Streisand made her first recording, "You'll Never Know."
[Another first for Babs on this date: Actor Jason Gould, above in Today's Birthdays, is her first (& only) child. — Ed.]
In 1957, singers Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme were married in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In 1967, musician Dave Mason left the band Traffic to pursue a solo career.
In 1975, Paul Kantner and Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane divorced.
In 1980, singer-songwriter Tim Hardin died of a heroin overdose in Los Angeles at the age of 40. He's best known for composing the song "If I Were A Carpenter."
In 1989, Jane Pauley marked her last day as co-host of the "Today" show after 13 years. Her successor was Deborah Norville.
In 1992, actor Todd Bridges was arrested in Burbank, California. Police say they found speed and a loaded gun in his car, but Bridges claimed he had been framed. At the time, Bridges had been doing public service announcements telling kids to stay away from drugs.