Today is Thursday, Dec. 31, the 365th and final day of 2009. Today is New Year's Eve. The UPI Almanac.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 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, Britain's Queen Victoria decided to make Ottawa the capital of Canada.
In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed an act admitting West Virginia to the Union.
In 1877, President and Mrs. Hayes celebrated their silver anniversary (actually, a day late) by re-enacting their wedding ceremony in the White House.
In 1879, Thomas Edison first publicly demonstrated his electric incandescent light in Menlo Park, N.J.
In 1908, Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal was born in Buczacs in what was then Austria-Hungary.
In 1938, the first breath test for drivers, "drunkometer," was introduced in Indianapolis.
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 1963, the Central African Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was formally dissolved.
In 1964, the al-Fatah guerrillas of Yasser Arafat launched their first raid on Israel.
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 1983, the court-ordered breakup of the American Telephone and Telegraph Co. took effect at midnight.
In 1984, the United States' first mandatory seat belt law went into effect in the state of New York at midnight.
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 1987, Robert Mugabe was sworn in as Zimbabwe's first executive president.
In 1994, Russian forces launched a full air and ground attack on Grozny, the capital city of the rebel republic of Chechnya.
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 Sorocaba, Brazil, riot troops stormed a prison where inmates were holding hundreds of hostages, quickly ending a three-day rebellion without any deaths.
In 1998, Europe's leaders proclaimed a new era as 11 nations merged currencies to create the euro, a shared money they said would boost business, underpin unity and strengthen their role in world affairs.
In 1999, people around the world celebrated while awaiting the arrival of the year 2000. Russian President Boris Yeltsin announced his resignation (he was succeeded by Vladimir Putin). The eight-day hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane in Afghanistan ended peacefully. The United States prepared to hand over the Panama Canal to Panama at the stroke of midnight. Former Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson died in Boston at age 79.
In 2002, emerging from holiday seclusion at his Texas ranch, President Bush told reporters an attack by Saddam Hussein or a terrorist ally "would cripple our economy." [Bush left it to capitalists, real estate speculators & mortgage lenders to "cripple our economy." — Ed.] Two U. N. nuclear inspectors expelled by North Korea arrived in China, leaving the communist nation's nuclear program isolated from international scrutiny. An explosion at a clandestine fireworks factory in the Mexican port city of Veracruz ignited an entire city block, killing 28 people.
In 2003, a car bomb ripped through a crowded restaurant hosting a New Year's Eve party in Baghdad, killing eight Iraqis.
In 2004, 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." 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 of Americans killed in the Iraq war reached 3,000. Hundreds of Iraqis flocked to the village of Ouja where Saddam Hussein was born to see the deposed leader buried in a religious compound 24 hours after his execution. Ordinary Americans paid their respects to former President Gerald R. Ford, walking slowly by his flag-covered casket in the U. S. Capitol. [Equal in life, equal in death. — Ed.] Also in 2006, Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union bringing the number of countries to 27 and the number of citizens to 489 million.
In 2007, President George W. Bush signed legislation to allow state and local governments to cut investment ties with Sudan because of the violence in Darfur. Sara Jane Moore, who took a shot at President Gerald R. Ford in San Francisco in 1975, was paroled after 32 years behind bars. The death toll in Kenya's post-election violence reached at least 140. Tribal uprisings were triggered after incumbent President Mwai Kibaki narrowly won re-election over Raila Odinga despite trailing by a wide margin earlier.
In 2008, 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. 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.) A woman gave birth aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 59 while en route from Amsterdam to Boston. The U.S. economy wound up a dismal year as signs of recession grew. Major U.S. stock market indexes had their worse single-year performances since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
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.
Also Born on December 31, But Died in the Interim: Jacques Cartier, explorer (1491 - 1 September 1557); Charles Edward Stuart, Scotland's "Bonnie Prince Charlie," (1720); Charles Cornwallis, general (1738 - 5 October 1805); Robert Aitken, astronomer (1864 - 29 October 1951); Henri Matisse, artist (1869 - 3 November 1954); Elizabeth Arden, beautician, business executive (1878 - 18 October 1966); George C. Marshall, general and cabinet member (1880 - 16 October 1959); Ben Jones, racehorse trainer (1882 - 13 June 1961); Simon Wiesenthal, writer, activist (1908); Nathan Milstein, violinist (1903 - 21 December 1992); Jules Styne, songwriter (1905 - 20 Seprtember 1994); cowboy actor/singer Rex Allen (1920); John Denver, entertainer [Crummy pilot, too. — Ed.] (1943).
Today In Entertainment History December 31
In 1929, Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians' first New Year's Eve broadcast from the Roosevelt Grill in New York City, which became an annual event, was heard over the CBS network.
In 1943, a near-riot of bobby-soxers in Times Square in New York greeted Frank Sinatra's singing engagement at the Paramount Theater.
In 1947, singing cowboy Roy Rogers married Dale Evans.
In 1969, Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys made its debut in New York.
In 1970, six months after release of their "Let It Be" album, Paul McCartney filed suit in London seeking the legal dissolution of the Beatles' partnership.
In 1972, the MC5 played their last gig, in Detroit. They were paid $200.
In 1973, AC/DC made their concert debut in Sydney, Australia.
In 1982, Little Steven Van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band got married in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Percy Sledge and Little Richard performed "When A Man Loves A Woman" at the reception.
In 1984, drummer Rick Allen of Def Leppard lost his left arm in a car crash near his home in England. Allen stayed with the band, using a special drum kit.
In 1985, singer Rick Nelson, 45, his fiancee, and five 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 1989, game show host Pat Sajak married former "Playboy" model Lesly Brown in Annapolis, Maryland.
In 1991, Gilbert O'Sullivan won his lawsuit against rapper Biz Markie for using a sample of his song "Alone Again (Naturally)" for Markie's song "Alone Again." The case changed the rules of sampling by requiring that all samples be cleared before releasing them on another record.
In 1993, Barbra Streisand performed her first paid concert in 22 years, singing to a sellout crowd at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas.
In 2004, singer Natalie Imbruglia married Silverchair singer Daniel Johns in an exclusive resort in Australia. They have since divorced. Also in 2004, Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson was arrested after he and his son got into a fight with police during a New Year's Eve celebration in Naples, Florida.
In 2005, Dick Clark returned to his "New Year's Rockin' Eve" telecast after missing the previous year because he had had a stroke. He was hoarse and sometimes hard to understand, but he said he "wouldn't have missed this for the world."
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).