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Today in History - January 1

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Posted: December 26, 2007 2:35 p.m.
Updated: January 16, 2008 5:00 a.m.
    Today is Tuesday, Jan. 1, the first day of leap year 2008. There are 365 days left in the year.
    Today’s Highlight in History:
    Two hundred years ago, on Jan. 1, 1808, a law prohibiting the importation of slaves into the United States went into effect.
    On this date:
    In 1863, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that slaves in rebel states were free.
    In 1892, the Ellis Island Immigrant Station in New York formally opened.
    In 1898, New York City was consolidated into five boroughs.
    In 1901, the Commonwealth of Australia was proclaimed.
    In 1953, country singer Hank Williams, 29, died of heart failure while en route to a concert date in Canton, Ohio.
    In 1959, Fidel Castro led Cuban revolutionaries to victory over Fulgencio Batista.
    In 1984, the breakup of AT&T took place as the telecommunications giant was divested of its 22 Bell System companies under terms of an antitrust agreement.
    In 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect.
    In 1997, Kofi Annan assumed the title of United Nations secretary-general.
    In 1999, the euro, the new single currency of 11 European countries (later 13), officially came into existence with the start of the New Year. (The euro became legal tender on this date in 2002.)
    Ten years ago: A new anti-smoking law went into effect in California, prohibiting people from lighting up in bars. The Michigan Wolverines beat Washington State 21-16 in the Rose Bowl; Florida State downed Ohio State 31-14 in the Sugar Bowl.
    Five years ago: More than two dozen surgeons stopped working in West Virginia to protest the high cost of malpractice insurance. Brazil’s first elected leftist president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, took office. Oklahoma romped past Washington State 34-14 in the Rose Bowl; Georgia defeated Florida State 26-13 in the Sugar Bowl; Notre Dame saw its sixth straight bowl loss, losing to North Carolina State 28-6 in the Gator Bowl.
    One year ago: President Bush and first lady Laura Bush joined thousands of other mourners in paying respects to former President Ford. An Indonesian Boeing 737 jetliner crashed, killing all 102 people on board. Ban Ki-moon became the 8th U.N. secretary-general. Grand Ole Opry star Del Reeves died at age 74. Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams was killed in a drive-by shooting; he was 24. The 9th-ranked Boise State Broncos completed a perfect season with a 43-42 overtime victory over No. 7 Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Southern California beat Michigan 32-18 in the Rose Bowl.
    Today’s Birthdays: Author J.D. Salinger is 89. Former Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., is 86. Actor Ty Hardin is 78. Actor Frank Langella is 70. Rock singer-musician Country Joe McDonald is 66. Writer-comedian Don Novello is 65. Actor Rick Hurst is 62. Country singer Steve Ripley (The Tractors) is 58. Rapper Grandmaster Flash is 50. Actress Ren Woods is 50. Actress Dedee Pfeiffer is 44. Actress Embeth Davidtz is 42. Country singer Brian Flynn (Flynnville Train) is 42. Actor Morris Chestnut is 39. Actor Verne Troyer is 39.
    Thought for Today: ‘‘To most of us the future seems unsure. But then it always has been; and we who have seen great changes must have great hopes.’’ — John Masefield, English poet (1878-1967).

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