December 31

In 1955, General Motors became the first U.S. corporation to earn over $1 billion in a single year. William C. Durant established the company in 1908. General Motors manufacturers vehicles in 37 nations and has its headquarters in Detroit. The corporation employs over 220,000 people and does business in over 120 countries. General Motors led the world in vehicle sales from 1931-2007 and is currently the leader again. In 2010, GM went through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy process.


The federal government broke up the AT&T Bell system in 1983. The original Bell Telephone Company was established in 1877 by Alexander Graham Bell’s father-in-law. In 1899 American Telephone and Telegraph took over the company and had a monopoly on telephone services for many decades. Often known as “Ma Bell,” the government forced the breakup of the Bell system into smaller units including Bell Atlantic, BellSouth, NYNEX, Southwestern Bell, Pacific Bell, and U.S. West. Today only Bell Canada continues to use the Bell name.


The United States turned over control of the Panama Canal to Panama in 1999. The Torrijos-Carter Treaties that were signed between the two nations in 1977 guaranteed that Panama would exert control over the canal after 1999. President Jimmy Carter and General Omar Torrijos signed the treaty for the United States and Panama on September 7, 1977. The United States reserves the right to defend the canal from any threat that would jeopardize neutral service for all nations. Panama assumed full control of the operation of the canal. About 580 square miles of land and 7,000 buildings were transferred to Panama by the year 2000.


Birthdays Today


1908Simon Wiesenthal, Ukrainian-Austrian Holocaust survivor (d. 2005)

1937Anthony Hopkins, Welsh-American actor, director, and composer

1943John Denver, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (The John Denver Band and Chad Mitchell Trio) (d. 1997)

1943Ben Kingsley, English actor

1948Donna Summer, American singer-songwriter and actress (d. 2012)

1958Bebe Neuwirth, American actress and singer


Correction - I inadvertantly forgot the birthday of American educator Richard Reyes of the Brooklyn Cristo Rey School who just turned 49 years old yesterday, December 30.

Larry Moskal began his career as a Social Studies teacher in 1971. He graduated from the University of Buffalo with degrees in history and education. Larry taught Social Studies for the Ken-Ton School system, a suburban school system north of Buffalo, New York until 2005, and then taught and was the Dean of Students at San Miguel High School in Tucson. At Ken-Ton, he pioneered several online courses for high school students. In the 1980s, he spent three years teaching in Colombia, South America and spent four years at Lewiston-Porter High School. He currently is the PowerSchool Administrator for San Miguel accomplishing his work over the Internet.