updated 12/29/2006 12:25:51 AM ET 2006-12-29T05:25:51

Today is Friday, Dec. 29, the 363rd day of 2006. There are two days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 29, 1916 (according to the New Style calendar; Dec. 16th by the Old Style), Grigory Rasputin, the so-called “Mad Monk” who had wielded great influence with Czar Nicholas II, was murdered by a group of Russian noblemen in St. Petersburg.

On this date:
In 1170, Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral in England.

In 1808, the 17th president of the United States, Andrew Johnson, was born in Raleigh, N.C.,

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

In 1851, the first American Young Men’s Christian Association was organized, in Boston.

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

In 1934, Japan renounced the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and the London Naval Treaty of 1930.

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 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 noncommunist to attain the post in more than four decades.

Ten years ago: War-weary guerrilla and government leaders in Guatemala signed an accord ending 36 years of civil conflict. North Korea apologized for sending a spy submarine into South Korean waters.

Five years ago: A fire sparked by a fireworks explosion in downtown Lima, Peru, killed 274 people.

One year ago: International monitors said they would review Iraq’s parliamentary elections in response to fraud complaints by Sunni Arab and secular Shiite groups.

Today’s Birthdays: Actress Inga Swenson is 74. ABC newscaster Tom Jarriel is 72. Actress Mary Tyler Moore is 69. Actor Jon Voight is 68. Country singer Ed Bruce is 67. Rock musician Ray Thomas is 65. Singer Marianne Faithfull is 60. Jockey Laffit Pincay Jr., is 60. Actor Ted Danson is 59. Actor Jon Polito is 56. Singer-actress Yvonne Elliman is 55. Actress Patricia Clarkson is 47. Comedian Paula Poundstone is 47. Rock singer-musician Jim Reid (The Jesus and Mary Chain) is 45. Actor-comedian Mystro Clark is 40. Actor Jason Gould is 40. Movie director Andy Wachowski is 39. Actress Jennifer Ehle is 37. Rock singer-musician Glen Phillips is 36. Actor Kevin Weisman is 36. Actor Jude Law is 34. Rapper Pimp C is 33. Actor Mekhi Phifer is 32. Actor Shawn Hatosy is 31. Actor Diego Luna is 27. Country singer Jessica Andrews is 23.

Thought for Today: “If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.” — Rachel Carson, American biologist (1907-1964).

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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