Today is Wednesday, Nov. 30, the 334th day of 2011. There are 31 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Nov. 30, 1835, Samuel Langhorne Clemens -- better known as Mark Twain -- was born in Florida, Mo.
On this date:
In 1782, the United States and Britain signed preliminary peace articles in Paris, ending the Revolutionary War.
In 1803, Spain completed the process of ceding Louisiana to France, which had sold it to the United States.
In 1874, British statesman Sir Winston Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace.
In 1900, Irish writer Oscar Wilde died in Paris at age 46.
In 1936, London's famed Crystal Palace, constructed for the Great Exhibition of 1851, was destroyed in a fire.
In 1939, the Winter War began as Soviet troops invaded Finland. (The conflict ended the following March with a Soviet victory.)
In 1960, the last DeSoto was built by Chrysler, which had decided to retire the brand after 32 years.
In 1962, U Thant of Burma, who had been acting secretary-general of the United Nations following the death of Dag Hammarskjold the year before, was elected to a four-year term.
In 1966, the former British colony of Barbados became independent.
In 1981, the United States and the Soviet Union opened negotiations in Geneva aimed at reducing nuclear weapons in Europe.
Ten years ago: Robert Tools, the first person in the world to receive a fully self-contained artificial heart, died in Louisville, Ky., of complications after severe abdominal bleeding; he had lived with the device for 151 days. Gary Leon Ridgway was arrested in connection with four of the Green River serial killings in Washington state (he later pleaded guilty to four dozen killings, and is serving life in prison).
Five years ago: President George W. Bush met in Jordan with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki; Bush said the United States would speed a turnover of security responsibility to Iraqi forces but assured al-Maliki that Washington was not looking for "some kind of graceful exit" from Iraq. Pope Benedict XVI visited Istanbul's famous Blue Mosque in a dramatic gesture of outreach to Muslims.
One year ago: Pentagon leaders called for scrapping the 17-year-old "don't ask, don't tell" ban after releasing a survey about the prospect of openly gay troops. The Obama administration announced that all 197 airlines that fly to the U.S. had begun collecting names, genders and birth dates of passengers so the government could check them against terror watch lists before they boarded flights.
Today's Birthdays: Historian Jacques Barzun is 104. Actor Efrem Zimbalist Jr. is 93. Actor Robert Guillaume is 84. TV personality and producer Dick Clark is 82. Radio talk show host G. Gordon Liddy is 81. Country singer-recording executive Jimmy Bowen is 74. Movie director Ridley Scott is 74. Movie writer-director Terrence Malick is 68. Rock musician Roger Glover (Deep Purple) is 66. Playwright David Mamet is 64. Actress Margaret Whitton is 61. Actor Mandy Patinkin is 59. Musician Shuggie Otis is 58. Country singer Jeannie Kendall is 57. Singer Billy Idol is 56. Historian Michael Beschloss is 56. Rock musician John Ashton (The Psychedelic Furs) is 54. Comedian Colin Mochrie is 54. Former football and baseball player Bo Jackson is 49. Rapper Jalil (Whodini) is 48. Actor-director Ben Stiller is 46. Rock musician Mike Stone is 42. Actress Sandra Oh is 41. Country singer Mindy McCready is 36. Singer Clay Aiken is 33. Actress Elisha Cuthbert is 29. Actress Kaley Cuoco is 26. Actress Christel Khalil is 24.
Thought for Today: "Civilization is the limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities." -- Mark Twain (1835-1910).