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Today in History - Nov. 30

Celebrity birthdays, highlights in history, plus more facts about this day
/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Thursday, Nov. 30, the 334th day of 2006. There are 31 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:
On Nov. 30, 1782, the United States and Britain signed preliminary peace articles in Paris, ending the Revolutionary War.

On this date:
In 1803, Spain completed the process of ceding Louisiana to France, which had sold it to the United States.

In 1835, Samuel Langhorne Clemens — better known as Mark Twain — was born in Florida, Mo.

In 1874, British statesman Sir Winston Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace.

In 1900, Irish writer Oscar Wilde died in Paris at age 46.

In 1936, London's famed Crystal Palace, constructed for the International Exhibition of 1851, was destroyed in a fire.

In 1939, the Russo-Finnish War began as Soviet troops invaded Finland.

In 1962, U Thant of Burma, who had been acting secretary-general of the United Nations following the death of Dag Hammarskjold the year before, was elected to a four-year term.

In 1966, the former British colony of Barbados became independent.

In 1981, the United States and the Soviet Union opened negotiations in Geneva aimed at reducing nuclear weapons in Europe.

In 1993, President Clinton signed the Brady bill, which requires a five-day waiting period for handgun purchases and background checks of prospective buyers.

Ten years ago: Some 150,000 people filled the streets of Belgrade to protest Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. 1960's novelty singer Tiny Tim, best remembered for his rendition of "Tiptoe Thru' the Tulips," died in Minneapolis.

Five years ago: Robert Tools, the first person in the world to receive a fully self-contained artificial heart, died in Louisville, Ky., of complications after severe abdominal bleeding; he had lived with the device for 151 days. Gary Leon Ridgway was arrested in connection with four of the Green River serial killings in Washington state. (He later pleaded guilty to four dozen killings, and is serving life in prison.) In Georgia, former DeKalb County Sheriff Sidney Dorsey and two other men were arrested and charged with murder in the slaying of Sheriff-elect Derwin Brown, who had defeated Dorsey in a bitter runoff election. (Dorsey was later convicted and sentenced to life in prison; the two other men were acquitted of murder in a separate state trial, but were later convicted of conspiracy in a federal trial.)

One year ago: President Bush gave an unflinching defense of his Iraq war strategy in a speech at the U.S. Naval Academy, refusing to set a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawals and asserting that once-shaky Iraqi troops were proving increasingly capable. Shimon Peres quit Israel's Labor Party, his political home of six decades, to campaign for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new organization. Actress Jean Parker died in Woodland Hills, Calif., at age 90.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Efrem Zimbalist Jr. is 89. Actor Robert Guillaume is 79. TV personality and producer Dick Clark is 77. Radio talk show host G. Gordon Liddy is 76. Country singer-recording executive Jimmy Bowen is 69. Movie director Ridley Scott is 69. Singer Rob Grill (The Grassroots) is 63. Movie writer-director Terrence Malick is 63. Singer Luther Ingram is 62. Rock musician Roger Glover (Deep Purple) is 61. Playwright David Mamet is 59. Actress Margaret Whitton is 56. Actor Mandy Patinkin is 54. Musician Shuggie Otis is 53. Country singer Jeannie Kendall is 52. Singer Billy Idol is 51. Rock musician John Ashton (The Psychedelic Furs) is 49. Comedian Colin Mochrie is 49. Former football and baseball player Bo Jackson is 44. Rapper Jalil (Whodini) is 43. Actor-director Ben Stiller is 41. Rock musician Mike Stone is 37. Actress Sandra Oh is 36. Country singer Mindy McCready is 31. Singer Clay Aiken is 28. Actress Elisha Cuthbert is 24. Actress Kaley Cuoco is 21.

Thought for Today: "The real problem is what to do with the problem solvers after the problems are solved." — Gay Talese, American author and journalist.