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Friday, December 27
By The Associated Press
Associated Press
2013-12-20 10:01 AM

Today is Friday, Dec. 27, the 361st day of 2013. There are 4 days left in the year.

Highlights in history on this date:

1741 - Prussian forces take Olmutz, Czechoslovakia; Spanish troops land in Tuscany, Italy.

1794 - French troops invade Holland.

1831 - Naturalist Charles Darwin sets out on a voyage to the Pacific aboard the HMS Beagle. His discoveries during the voyage helped form the basis of his theories on evolution.

1927 - Joseph Stalin's faction wins at All-Union Congress in Soviet Union, and Leon Trotsky is expelled from the Communist Party.

1932 - Radio City Music Hall opens in New York City.

1944 - In World War II, Soviet forces surround Budapest; U.S. forces smash across the German Bulge in Belgium and relieve U.S. troops under siege at Bastogne.

1945 - Foreign ministers of Britain, United States and Soviet Union meet in Moscow and call for provisional democratic government in Korea; the World Bank is created with an agreement signed by 28 nations.

1949 - The Netherlands' Queen Juliana grants Indonesia sovereignty after more than three centuries of Dutch rule.

1956 - United Nations fleet begins clearing the Suez Canal after the Suez War.

1964 - Congo government charges that officers from Algeria and the United Arab Republic are leading Congolese rebels on Congo's northeastern border.

1969 - Libya, Sudan and United Arab Republic (the short-lived union of Egypt and Syria) announce political, economic and military agreement in Tripoli.

1970 - The musical, "Hello, Dolly!" closes on Broadway after a run of 2,844 performances.

1972 - Australia halts military aid to South Vietnam, ending its involvement in the Vietnam War.

1979 - Soviet forces seize control of Afghanistan. President Hafizullah Amin, who was overthrown and executed, is replaced by Babrak Karmal.

1985 - Terrorists strike at holiday travelers in simultaneous attacks on Israel's El Al airline at Rome and Vienna airports, killing 16 people and wounding more than 100; American naturalist Dian Fossey, who studied gorillas in the wild, is found hacked to death at a research station in Rwanda.

1987 - Ferocious gun battle erupts in crowded market in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, after suspected separatist Tamil rebels fatally shoot policeman. At least 25 people are reported killed.

1989 - U.S. soldiers blast rock music and news bulletins about Panama at Vatican embassy in Panama City in attempt to drive General Manuel Noriega from refuge there.

1990 - After being recalled days earlier, Iraq's ambassadors return to their posts calling for "serious and constructive dialogue" on Persian Gulf crisis.

1992 - The United States shoots down an Iraqi fighter aircraft when two Iraqi warplanes "turned to confront" U.S. F-16 jets in U.N.-restricted airspace over southern Iraq.

1994 - Suspected Muslim militants in Algiers kill four Catholic priests.

1996 - Some 60,000 jubilant opposition supporters defy riot police to rally in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, buoyed by international mediators who upheld their victory over President Slobodan Milosevic in local elections.

1997 - Billy Wright, one of the most feared Protestant guerrilla leaders in Northern Ireland, is shot and killed in prison by inmates belonging to an Irish Republican Army splinter group.

1999 - Alfonso Portillo of the right-wing Guatemalan Republican Front wins the country's first peacetime presidential election in nearly 40 years.

2000 - Animal rights activists toss eggs and jeer as hunters and hounds pursue foxes across a frigid British countryside in traditional post-Christmas hunts.

2002 - Three unidentified men driving a heavy military truck penetrate the defenses surrounding the pro-Russian government's headquarters in Grozny, capital of Chechnya, and detonate more than a ton of explosives, killing 63 people and injuring 178.

2005 - Israeli aircraft fire missiles on two offices of the militant Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and an overpass the army says militants cross to reach launching grounds for rocket attacks.

2006 - The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rules state lawmakers cannot be compelled to vote on a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage.

2007 - Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, 54, is killed by an attacker who shot her after a campaign rally and then blew himself up. The government later says she died from a skull fracture suffered when her head slammed against her car. At least 20 others are also killed.

2008 - International aid agencies warn that Zimbabwe's humanitarian crisis is deepening, with a sharp rise in acute child malnutrition and a worsening cholera epidemic.

2009 - A Nigerian man's claim that his attempt to blow up a U.S. plane originated with al-Qaida's network inside Yemen deepens concerns that instability in the Middle Eastern country is providing the terror group with a base to train and recruit militants for operations against the West and the U.S.

2010 - Corruption charges against one of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's most trusted political advisers provide the latest evidence of deep rifts within the Iranian president's own conservative political camp.

2011 - Surprised airport workers in Argentina find hundreds of wriggling poisonous snakes and endangered reptiles inside the baggage of a Czech man who was about to board a flight to Spain.

2012 - Mexico City's government tries to transform one of the world's largest cities by beautifying public spaces, parks and monuments buried beneath a sea of honking cars, street hawkers and grime following decades of dizzying urban growth.

Today's Birthdays:

Johannes Kepler, German astronomer (1571-1630); Louis Pasteur, French scientist (1822-1895); Louis Bromfield, U.S. novelist (1896-1956); Marlene Dietrich, German actress (1901-1992); John Amos, U.S. actor (1939--); Cokie Roberts, U.S. newsperson (1943--); Gerard Depardieu, French actor (1948--); T.S. Monk, jazz drummer/vocalist (1949--).

Thought For Today:

Some men rob you with a six-gun -- others rob you with a fountain pen. Woody Guthrie -- American Singer/Songwriter (1912-1967).

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