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November 21, 2014 08:06 GMT

Today is Friday, Nov. 21, the 325th day of 2014. There are 40 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Nov. 21, 1864, a letter was signed by President Abraham Lincoln expressing condolences to Lydia Bixby, a widow in Boston whose five sons supposedly died while fighting in the Civil War. (As it turned out, only two of Mrs. Bixby's sons had been killed in battle; also, historians are not certain that Lincoln actually wrote the letter.)

On this date:

In 1789, North Carolina became the 12th state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

In 1861, Judah Benjamin, who had been acting Confederate Secretary of War, was formally named to the post.

In 1922, Rebecca L. Felton of Georgia was sworn in as the first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate.

In 1934, the Cole Porter musical "Anything Goes," starring Ethel Merman as Reno Sweeney, opened on Broadway.

In 1942, the Alaska Highway, also known as the Alcan Highway, was formally opened at Soldier's Summit in the Yukon Territory.

In 1964, the upper level of New York's Verrazano Narrows Bridge, connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island, was opened.

In 1969, the Senate voted down the Supreme Court nomination of Clement F. Haynsworth, 55-45, the first such rejection since 1930.

In 1973, President Richard Nixon's attorney, J. Fred Buzhardt (buh-ZAHRDT'), revealed the existence of an 18-1/2-minute gap in one of the White House tape recordings related to Watergate.

In 1974, bombs exploded at a pair of pubs in Birmingham, England, killing 21 people. (Six suspects were convicted of the attack, but the convictions of the so-called "Birmingham Six" were overturned in 1991.)

In 1980, 87 people died in a fire at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In 1989, the proceedings of Britain's House of Commons were televised live for the first time.

In 1991, the U.N. Security Council chose Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt to be Secretary-General.

Ten years ago: President George W. Bush, trying to mend relations with Latin America, pledged during an economic summit in Chile to make a fresh push for stalled immigration reforms. Iraqi authorities set January 30, 2005, as the date for the nation's first election since the collapse of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship. Six Wisconsin hunters were shot to death by Chai Soua Vang, an ethnic Hmong immigrant who was later sentenced to life in prison.

Five years ago: The Senate voted 60-39 to open debate on health care legislation. An explosion at the Xinxing coal mine near Hegang city in China killed 108 miners. The University of East Anglia, in eastern England, reported that hackers had broken into a server at its Climatic Research Unit. (The hackers posted hundreds of private e-mails and documents online, stoking debate on whether some scientists had overstated the case for man-made climate change.) The shimmering, white glove Michael Jackson wore when he premiered his trademark moonwalk dance was auctioned off for $350,000 (plus $70,000 in taxes and fees) at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York's Times Square.

One year ago: Sweeping aside a century of precedent, Democrats took a chunk out of the Senate's hallowed filibuster tradition, clearing the way for speedy confirmation of controversial appointments made by President Barack Obama; Republicans warned Democrats would regret their actions once political fortunes were reversed and they could no longer block appointments made by a GOP president. Fifty-four people were killed in a supermaket roof collapse in Riga, Latvia. Three women were freed after being held captive 30 years in a south London home.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Joseph Campanella is 90. Country singer Jean Shepard is 81. Actor Laurence Luckinbill is 80. Actress Marlo Thomas is 77. Actor Rick Lenz is 75. Singer Dr. John is 74. Actress Juliet Mills is 73. Basketball Hall of Famer Earl Monroe is 70. Television producer Marcy Carsey is 70. Actress Goldie Hawn is 69. Movie director Andrew Davis is 68. Rock musician Lonnie Jordan (War) is 66. Singer Livingston Taylor is 64. Actress-singer Lorna Luft is 62. Actress Cherry Jones is 58. Rock musician Brian Ritchie (The Violent Femmes) is 54. Gospel singer Steven Curtis Chapman is 52. Actress Nicollette Sheridan is 51. Singer-actress Bjork (byork) is 49. Pro and College Football Hall of Famer Troy Aikman is 48. Rhythm-and-blues singer Chauncey Hannibal (BLACKstreet) is 46. Rock musician Alex James (Blur) is 46. MLB All-Star player Ken Griffey Jr. is 45. TV personality Rib Hillis is 44. Rapper Pretty Lou (Lost Boyz) is 43. Football player-turned-talk show host Michael Strahan (STRAY'-han) is 43. Country singer Kelsi Osborn (SHeDAISY) is 40. Singer-actress Lindsey Haun is 30. Actress Jena Malone is 30. Pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen is 29. Actor-singer Sam Palladio is 27.

Thought for Today: "Never confuse motion with action." -- Ernest Hemingway, American author (1899-1961).


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