In 1813, British troops burned Buffalo, New York, during the War of 1812.
In 1860, 10 days after South Carolina seceded from the Union, the state militia seized the United States Arsenal in Charleston.
In 1916, Grigory Rasputin, the so-called “Mad Monk” who wielded considerable influence with Czar Nicholas II, was killed by a group of Russian noblemen in St. Petersburg.
In 1922, Vladimir Lenin proclaimed the establishment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which lasted nearly seven decades before dissolving in December 1991.
In 1936, the United Auto Workers union staged its first “sit-down” strike at the General Motors Fisher Body Plant No. 1 in Flint, Michigan. (The strike lasted until Feb. 11, 1937.)
In 1940, California’s first freeway, the Arroyo Seco Parkway connecting Los Angeles and Pasadena, was officially opened by Gov. Culbert L. Olson.
In 1942, a near-riot of bobby-soxers greeted the opening of Frank Sinatra’s singing engagement at the Paramount Theater in New York’s Times Square.
In 1965, Ferdinand Marcos was inaugurated for his first term as president of the Philippines.
In 1979, Broadway composer Richard Rodgers died in New York at age 77.
In 1989, a Northwest Airlines DC-10, which had been the target of a telephoned threat, flew safely from Paris to Detroit with 22 passengers amid extra-tight security.
In 1997, a deadly massacre in Algeria’s insurgency began in four mountain villages as armed men killed women and children in an attack that lasted from dusk until dawn the following morning; up to 412 deaths were reported.
In 1999, former Beatle George Harrison fought off a knife-wielding intruder who’d broken into his mansion west of London and stabbed him in the chest. (The attacker was later acquitted of attempted murder by reason of insanity.)
Ten years ago: A defiant Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (blah-GOY’-uh-vich) named former state Attorney General Roland Burris to Barack Obama’s Senate seat, a surprise move that put the governor’s opponents in the uncomfortable position of trying to block his choice from becoming the Senate’s only black member. (Burris was sworn in as a U.S. senator the following month.) Israeli aircraft kept up a relentless string of attacks on Hamas-ruled Gaza, smashing a government complex, security installations and the home of a top militant commander. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a law extending presidential terms from four years to six.
Five years ago: Six states were named by federal officials to develop test sites for drones: Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia. Barely 12 hours after the NFL’s regular season ended, four more head coaches were fired: Washington’s Mike Shanahan, Detroit’s Jim Schwartz, Minnesota’s Leslie Frazier and Tampa Bay’s Greg Schiano. (Cleveland’s Rob Chudzinski had been fired the night before).
One year ago: A wave of spontaneous protests over Iran’s weak economy swept into Tehran, with college students and others chanting against the government. Forecasters issued winter weather advisories across much of the Deep South ahead of plunging temperatures expected as the new year arrived.
Today’s Birthdays: Actor Russ Tamblyn is 84. Baseball Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax is 83. Folk singer Noel Paul Stookey is 81. TV director James Burrows is 78. Actor Fred Ward is 76. Singer-musician Michael Nesmith is 76. Actress Concetta Tomei (toh-MAY’) is 73. Singer Patti Smith is 72. Rock singer-musician Jeff Lynne is 71. TV personality Meredith Vieira is 65. Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph is 63. Actress Patricia Kalember is 62. Country singer Suzy Bogguss is 62. Former “Today” show co-host Matt Lauer is 61. Actress-comedian Tracey Ullman is 59. Rock musician Rob Hotchkiss is 58. Radio-TV commentator Sean Hannity is 57. Sprinter Ben Johnson is 57. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is 55. Actor George Newbern is 55. Movie director Bennett Miller is 52. Singer Jay Kay (Jamiroquai) is 49. Rock musician Byron McMackin (Pennywise) is 49. Actress Meredith Monroe is 49. Actor Daniel Sunjata is 47. Actress Maureen Flannigan is 46. Actor Jason Behr is 45. Golfer Tiger Woods is 43. TV personality-boxer Laila Ali is 41. Actress Lucy Punch is 41. Singer-actor Tyrese Gibson is 40. Actress Eliza Dushku is 38. Rock musician Tim Lopez (Plain White T’s) is 38. Actress Kristin Kreuk is 36. Folk-rock singer-musician Wesley Schultz (The Lumineers) is 36. NBA player LeBron James is 34. Rhythm-and-blues singer Andra Day is 34. Actress Anna Wood is 33. Pop-rock singer Ellie Goulding (GOL’-ding) is 32. Actress Caity Lotz is 32. Country musician Eric Steedly is 28. Pop-rock musician Jamie Follese (FAHL’-es-ay) (Hot Chelle (shel) Rae) is 27.
Thought for Today: “I respect faith, but doubt is what gives you an education.” — Wilson Mizner, American playwright (1876-1933).