The Associated Press
Highlight in History
On Dec. 31, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed an enabling act paving the way for Virginia’ western counties to become the state of West Virginia, which took place in June 1863.
On this date
In 1985, singer Rick Nelson, 45, and six other people were killed when fire broke out aboard a DC-3 that was taking the group to a New Year’s Eve performance in Dallas.
In 1986, 97 people were killed when fire broke out in the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Three hotel workers later pleaded guilty in connection with the blaze.)
In 1987, Robert Mugabe, prime minister of Zimbabwe, was sworn in as the country’s first executive president.
In 1992, President George H.W. Bush visited Somalia, where he saw firsthand the famine racking the east African nation, and praised U.S. troops who were providing relief to the starving population.
Ten years ago
Emerging from holiday seclusion at his Texas ranch, President George W. Bush told reporters an attack by Saddam Hussein or a terrorist ally “would cripple our economy.” North Korea accused the United States of planning an invasion and vowed to fight “to the last man” hours after it expelled two U.N. monitors, leaving its nuclear program shrouded in secrecy. An explosion at a clandestine fireworks factory in the Mexican port city of Veracruz ignited an entire city block, killing 28 people.
Five years ago
President George W. Bush signed legislation to allow states and local governments to cut investment ties with Sudan because of the violence in Darfur. Sara Jane Moore, who took a shot at President Gerald R. Ford in San Francisco in 1975, was paroled after 32 years behind bars.
One year ago
President Barack Obama signed a wide-ranging defense bill into law despite having “serious reservations” about provisions that regulated the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists. A NASA spacecraft fired its engine and slipped into orbit around the moon in the first of two back-to-back arrivals over the New Year’s weekend.