updated 1/18/2006 1:03:49 AM ET 2006-01-18T06:03:49

Today is Wednesday, Jan. 18, the 18th day of 2006. There are 347 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Jan. 18, 1912, English explorer Robert F. Scott and his expedition reached the South Pole, only to discover that Roald Amundsen had beaten them to it. (Scott and his party perished during the return trip.)

On this date:
In 1778, English navigator Captain James Cook reached the Hawaiian Islands, which he dubbed the “Sandwich Islands.”

In 1788, the first English settlers arrived in Australia’s Botany Bay to establish a penal colony.

In 1862, the 10th president of the United States, John Tyler, died in Richmond, Va., at age 71.

In 1919, the World War I Peace Congress opened in Versailles, France.

In 1936, author Rudyard Kipling died in Burwash, England.

In 1943, during World War II, the Soviets announced they’d broken the long Nazi siege of Leningrad.

In 1943, a wartime ban on the sale of pre-sliced bread in the U.S. — aimed at reducing bakeries’ demand for metal replacement parts — went into effect.

In 1967, Albert DeSalvo, who claimed to be the “Boston Strangler,” was convicted in Cambridge, Mass., of armed robbery, assault and sex offenses. (Sentenced to life, DeSalvo was killed by a fellow inmate in 1973.)

In 1970, Mormon president David McKay died at the age of 96.

In 1990, a jury in Los Angeles acquitted former preschool operators Raymond Buckey and his mother, Peggy McMartin Buckey, of 52 child molestation charges.

Ten years ago: Russian President Boris Yeltsin announced that 82 hostages were freed when his forces wiped out Chechen fighters in Pervomayskaya, ending a weeklong standoff; however, he said 18 other hostages were missing. Lisa Marie Presley-Jackson filed for divorce from Michael Jackson.

Five years ago: President Clinton, in a farewell from the Oval Office, told the nation that “America has done well” during his presidency, with record-breaking prosperity and a cleaner environment. Electricity-strapped California saw a second day of rolling blackouts. Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson revealed an extramarital affair that resulted in the birth of a daughter.

One year ago: Secretary of State nominee Condoleezza Rice, at her Senate confirmation hearing, insisted the United States was fully prepared for the Iraq war and its aftermath and refused to give a timetable for U.S. troops to come home. The world’s largest commercial jet, an Airbus A380 that can carry 800 passengers, was unveiled in Toulouse, France.

Today’s Birthdays: Movie director John Boorman is 73. Singer-songwriter Bobby Goldsboro is 65. Comedian-singer-musician Brett Hudson is 53. Actor-director Kevin Costner is 51. Country singer Mark Collie is 50. Actress Jane Horrocks is 42. Comedian Dave Attell is 41. Actor Jesse L. Martin (“Law & Order”) is 37. Rapper DJ Quik is 36. Rock singer Jonathan Davis (Korn) is 35. Singer Christian Burns (BBMak) is 33. Actor Jason Segel is 26. Actress Samantha Mumba is 23.

Thought for Today: “The compensation of growing old was simply this: that the passions remain as strong as ever, but one has gained — at last! — the power which adds the supreme flavor to existence, the power of taking hold of experience, of turning it round, slowly, in the light.” — Virginia Woolf, English author (1882-1941).

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