updated 12/30/2006 12:09:53 AM ET 2006-12-30T05:09:53

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 30, 1903, about 600 people died when fire broke out at the recently opened Iroquois Theater in Chicago.

On this date:

In 1813, the British burned Buffalo, N.Y., during the War of 1812.

In 1853, the United States bought some 45,000 square miles of land from Mexico in a deal known as the Gadsden Purchase.

In 1906, British movie director Sir Carol Reed (“The Third Man,” “Our Man in Havana,” “Oliver!”) was born in London.

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 Number One 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 1956, the New York Giants defeated the Chicago Bears, 47-to-7, to win the NFL Championship Game.

In 1972, the U.S. 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 committed suicide in prison).

Ten years ago: About three dozen people were killed when a bomb exploded on an Indian commuter train; a militant group claimed responsibility.

Five years ago: Argentina’s interim president, Adolfo Rodriguez Saa, resigned after seven days in office, complaining that his Peronist party had abandoned him.

One year ago: President Bush, unhappy with Congress for not permanently extending the U.S.A. Patriot Act, signed a bill renewing the anti-terrorism law for a few weeks. It was revealed the Justice Department had opened an investigation into the leak of classified information about President Bush’s secret domestic spying program. Tropical Storm Zeta formed in the eastern Atlantic Ocean; it was the 27th storm of a record-breaking hurricane season.

Today’s Birthdays: Singer-musician Bo Diddley is 78. Actor Joseph Bologna is 72. Actor Russ Tamblyn is 72. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Sandy Koufax is 71. Actor Jack Riley is 71. Folk singer Paul Stookey is 69. TV director James Burrows is 66. Actor Fred Ward is 64. Singer-musician Michael Nesmith is 64. Singer Davy Jones is 61. Singer Patti Smith is 60. Rock singer-musician Jeff Lynne is 59. “Today Show” co-host Meredith Vieira is 53. Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph is 51. Actress Patricia Kalember is 50. Country singer Suzy Bogguss is 50. “Today Show” newscaster Matt Lauer is

49. Actress-comedian Tracey Ullman is 47. Rock musician Rob Hotchkiss is 46. Radio-TV commentator Sean Hannity is 45. Runner Ben Johnson is 45. Singer Jay Kay (Jamiroquai) is 37. Actor Daniel Sunjata is 35. Actress Maureen Flannigan is 34. Actor Jason Behr is

33. Golfer Tiger Woods is 31. Singer Tyrese is 28. Actress Eliza Dushku is 26. Actress Kristin Kreuk is 24.

Thought for Today: “A fellow who is always declaring he’s no fool usually has his suspicions.” — Wilson Mizner, American playwright (1876-1933).

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

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