Today in history

By The Associated Press

Today is Friday, Jan. 1, the first day of leap year 2016. There are 365 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Jan. 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that slaves in rebel states shall be “forever free.”

On this date:

In 1660, Englishman Samuel Pepys (peeps) began keeping his famous diary.

In 1913, the U.S. Parcel Post system went into operation.

In 1935, The Associated Press inaugurated Wirephoto, the first successful service for transmitting photographs by wire to member newspapers.

In 1945, France was admitted to the United Nations.

In 1953, country singer Hank Williams Sr., 29, was discovered dead in the back seat of his car during a stop in Oak Hill, West Virginia, while he was being driven to a concert date in Canton, Ohio.

In 1959, Fidel Castro and his revolutionaries overthrew Cuban leader Fulgencio Batista, who fled to the Dominican Republic.

In 1975, a jury in Washington found Nixon administration officials John N. Mitchell, H.R. Haldeman, John D. Ehrlichman and Robert C. Mardian guilty of charges related to the Watergate cover-up (Mardian’s conviction for conspiracy was later overturned on appeal).

In 1979, the United States and China held celebrations in Washington and Beijing to mark the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

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 1995, the World Trade Organization (WTO) came into being, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Sweden, Finland and Austria joined the European Union.

In 2014, the nation’s first legal recreational pot shops opened in Colorado at 8 a.m. Mountain time.

Ten years ago: President George W. Bush strongly defended his domestic spying program, calling it legal as well as vital to thwarting terrorist attacks. The Medicare prescription drug plan went into effect. American teenager Farris Hassan, who’d traveled alone to Iraq to experience the lives of its people, returned home to Florida after three weeks in the Middle East. New England’s Doug Flutie converted the NFL’s first successful drop kick in 64 years during a 28-26 loss to Miami.

Five years ago: A suicide bomber killed 21 people outside a church in Alexandria, Egypt, in one of the country’s worst attacks targeting Coptic Christians. Third-ranked TCU finished a perfect season by beating No. 4 Wisconsin 21-19 in the Rose Bowl. Oprah Winfrey launched her OWN cable network.

One year ago: Mario Cuomo, 82, a leading liberal voice who served three terms as governor of New York, died just hours after his son Andrew began his second term as the state’s chief executive. Actress Donna Douglas, who played the buxom tomboy Elly May Clampett on the hit 1960s sitcom “The Beverly Hillbillies,” died in Baton Rouge, Louisana, at age 82.

Today’s Birthdays: Former Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., is 94. Actor Ty Hardin is 86. Documentary maker Frederick Wiseman is 86. Actor Frank Langella is 78. Rock singer-musician Country Joe McDonald is 74. Writer-comedian Don Novello is 73. Actor Rick Hurst is 70. Country singer Steve Ripley (The Tractors) is 66. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., is 62. The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, is 60. Rapper Grandmaster Flash is 58. Actress Ren Woods is 58. Actress Dedee Pfeiffer is 52. Actress Embeth Davidtz is 50. Country singer Brian Flynn (Flynnville Train) is 50. Actor Morris Chestnut is 47. Actor Verne Troyer is 47. Elin Nordegren is 36. Actor Jonas Armstrong (Film: “Walking With the Enemy”; “Edge of Tomorrow”; TV: “Robin Hood”) is 35. Actress Eden Riegel is 35. Olympic gold medal ice dancer Meryl Davis is 29. Rock musician Noah Sierota (Echosmith) is 20.

Thought for Today: “A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one Year and out the other.” — Author unknown.

By The Associated Press