updated 1/1/2006 12:17:13 AM ET 2006-01-01T05:17:13

Today is Sunday, Jan. 1, the first day of 2006. There are 364 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Jan. 1, 1863, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that slaves in rebel states were free.

On this date:
In 1892, the Ellis Island Immigrant Station in New York formally opened.

In 1898, Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island were consolidated into New York City.

In 1901, the Commonwealth of Australia was proclaimed.

In 1953, country singer Hank Williams, 29, died of a drug and alcohol overdose while en route to a concert date in Canton, Ohio.

In 1959, Fidel Castro led Cuban revolutionaries to victory over Fulgencio Batista.

In 1979, the United States and China held celebrations in Washington and Beijing to mark the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

In 1984, the break up of AT&T took place as the telecommunications giant was divested of its 22 Bell System companies under terms of an antitrust agreement.

In 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully split into two new countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

In 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect.

In 1999, the euro, the new single currency of eleven European countries, officially came into existence with the start of the New Year.

Ten years ago: Some 100,000 Bangladeshi women rallied to protest Islamic clerics’ attacks on female education and employment. Two buses collided in northern Mexico, killing 25 people. Retired U.S. Adm. Arleigh Burke, remembered for his World War II heroics, died at Bethesda Naval Hospital at age 94.

Five years ago: It was announced that Tyson Foods Incorporated would buy beef and pork giant IBP Incorporated in a deal valued at $3.2 billion in cash and stock. (Tyson later tried to back out, but IBP sued, and a judge ordered Tyson to complete the deal.) Actor Ray Walston died in Beverly Hills, Calif., at age 86.

One year ago: Desperate, homeless villagers on the tsunami-ravaged island of Sumatra mobbed American helicopters carrying aid as the U.S. military launched its largest operation in the region since the Vietnam War. Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to the U.S. Congress, died at age 80. California Congressman Robert T. Matsui died at age 63.

Today’s Birthdays: Author J.D. Salinger is 87. Former Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., is 84. Actor Ty Hardin is 76. Actor Frank Langella is 66. Rock singer-musician Country Joe McDonald is 64. Writer-comedian Don Novello is 63. Actor Rick Hurst is 60. Country singer Steve Ripley (The Tractors) is 56. Rapper Grandmaster Flash is 48. Actress Ren Woods is 48. Actress Dedee Pfeiffer is 42. Actress Embeth Davidtz is 40. Actor Morris Chestnut is 37. Actor Verne Troyer is 37.

Thought for Today: “And now let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been, full of work that has never been done, full of tasks, claims, and demands; and let us see that we learn to take it without letting fall too much of what it has to bestow upon those who demand of it necessary, serious and great things.” — Rainer Maria Rilke, German poet (1876-1926).

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