Today is Saturday, Dec. 31, the 365th and final day of 2011.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Dec. 31, 1951, the Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than $12 billion in foreign aid.

On this date:

In 1759, Arthur Guinness founded his famous brewery at St. James's Gate in Dublin.

In 1775, during the Revolutionary War, the British repulsed an attack by Continental Army generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold at Quebec; Montgomery was killed.

In 1879, Thomas Edison first publicly demonstrated his electric incandescent light in Menlo Park, N.J.

In 1909, the Manhattan Bridge, spanning the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn, was officially opened to vehicular traffic.

In 1946, President Harry S. Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.

In 1961, the Green Bay Packers shut out the New York Giants 37-0 to win the National Football League Championship.

In 1969, Joseph A. Yablonski, an unsuccessful candidate for the presidency of the United Mine Workers of America, was shot to death with his wife and daughter in their Clarksville, Pa., home by hitmen acting at the orders of UMWA president Tony Boyle.

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 1991, representatives of the government of El Salvador and rebels reached agreement at the United Nations on a peace accord to end 12 years of civil war.

Ten years ago: New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani spent his final day in office praising police, firefighters, and other city employees in the wake of 9/11, and said he had no regrets about returning to private life. Notre Dame tapped Tyrone Willingham to be its football coach, replacing George O'Leary, who'd resigned because of misstatements about his academic and athletic achievements on his resume; Willingham became the first black head coach in any sport for the Irish. Actress Eileen Heckart died in Norwalk, Conn., at age 82.

Five years ago: The death toll for Americans killed in the Iraq war reached 3,000. Hundreds of Iraqis flocked to the village of Ouja (OO'-juh) where Saddam Hussein was born to see the deposed leader buried in a religious compound 24 hours after his execution. Ordinary Americans paid their respects to former President Gerald R. Ford, walking slowly by his flag-covered casket in the U.S. Capitol.

One year ago: Tornadoes fueled by unusually warm air pummeled the South and Midwest, killing a total of eight people in Arkansas and Missouri. The body of federal defense consultant John Wheeler III, 66, was found in a Wilmington, Del., landfill; his death, ruled a homicide, remains under investigation.

Today's Birthdays: TV producer George Schlatter is 82. Actor Sir Anthony Hopkins is 74. Actor Tim Considine ("My Three Sons") is 71. Actress Sarah Miles is 70. Rock musician Andy Summers is 69. Actor Sir Ben Kingsley is 68. Producer-director Taylor Hackford is 67. Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg is 65. Actor Tim Matheson is 64. Pop singer Burton Cummings (The Guess Who) is 64. Singer Donna Summer is 63. Actor Joe Dallesandro is 63. Rock musician Tom Hamilton (Aerosmith) is 60. Actor James Remar is 58. Actress Bebe Neuwirth is 53. Actor Val Kilmer is 52. Singer Paul Westerberg is 52. Actor Don Diamont is 49. Rock musician Ric Ivanisevich (Oleander) is 49. Rock musician Scott Ian (Anthrax) is 48. Actress Gong Li is 46. Author Nicholas Sparks is 46. Actor Lance Reddick is 42. Pop singer Joe McIntyre is 39. Rock musician Mikko Siren (Apocalyptica) is 36. Rock musician Bob Bryar is 32.

Thought for Today: "Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve. Middle age is when you're forced to!" _ William E. Vaughan, American newspaper columnist (1915-1977).

(Above Advance for Use Saturday, Dec. 31)

Copyright 2011, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.




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