Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The End is Nigher — This Date in History

Today is Tuesday, Dec. 30, the 365th day of 2008. There is 1 day left in the year. Today's Highlight in History: In 1853, the United States and Mexico signed a treaty under which the US agreed to buy some 45,000 square miles of land from Mexico for $10 million in a deal known as the Gadsden Purchase. (The area covered by the agreement is located in present-day southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico.) On this date: In 1813, the British burned Buffalo, N.Y., during the War of 1812. 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 invented baseball — a finding that few sports historians embrace. [Yeah, look it up in the Britannica. They were playing something similar under the name "rounders" in Limeyland long before Abner. — Ed.] In 1922, Vladimir I. Lenin proclaimed the establishment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. 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 1948, the Cole Porter musical "Kiss Me, Kate" opened on Broadway. In 1972, the United States halted its heavy bombing of North Vietnam. In 1994, a gunman walked into a pair of suburban Boston abortion clinics and opened fire, killing two employees and wounding five other people. (John C. Salvi III was later convicted of murder; he died in prison an apparent suicide.) In 2006, Iraqis awoke to news that Saddam Hussein had been hanged; victims of his three decades of autocratic rule took to the streets to celebrate. Ten years ago: Weak but radiant with pride, Nkem Chukwu, the mother of the Houston octuplets, went home from the hospital. Five years ago: The Bush administration announced it was banning the sale of ephedra, and urged consumers to immediately stop using the herbal stimulant linked to 155 deaths and dozens of heart attacks and strokes. Author John Gregory Dunne died in New York City at age 71. One year ago: 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. The 19-year-old son of assassinated opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, Bilawal Zardari, was named symbolic leader of her Pakistan Peoples Party, while Bhutto's widower took effective control. Thought for Today: "Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone." — Anonymous. — The Associated Press

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