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updated 12/8/2006 12:02:05 AM ET 2006-12-08T05:02:05

Today is Friday, Dec. 8, the 342nd day of 2006. There are 23 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 8, 1980, rock star John Lennon was shot to death outside his New York City apartment building by an apparently deranged fan.

On this date:
In 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the Catholic dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which holds that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was free of original sin from the moment of her own conception.

In 1863, President Lincoln announced his plan for the Reconstruction of the South.

In 1886, the American Federation of Labor was founded in Columbus, Ohio.

In 1914, “Watch Your Step,” the first musical revue to feature a score composed entirely by Irving Berlin, opened in New York.

In 1941, the United States entered World War II as Congress declared war against Japan, a day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

In 1949, the Chinese Nationalist government moved from the Chinese mainland to Formosa as the Communists pressed their attacks.

In 1986, House Democrats selected majority leader Jim Wright to be the chamber’s 48th speaker, succeeding Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill.

In 1987, President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev signed a treaty calling for destruction of intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

In 1991, AIDS patient Kimberly Bergalis, who had contracted the disease from her dentist, died in Fort Pierce, Fla., at age 23.

In 1993, President Clinton signed into U.S. law the North American Free Trade Agreement, which went into effect at the start of 1994.

Ten years ago: The Serbian Supreme Court ruled against opposition parties who said Slobodan Milosevic had robbed them of an election victory in Belgrade.

Five years ago: The U.S. Capitol was reopened to tourists after a two-month security shutdown. Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch was awarded the Heisman Trophy.

One year ago: A Southwest Airlines jet slid off the runway and onto a busy street during a snowstorm in Chicago, killing a boy in a car. In Iraq, a suicide bomber detonated explosives inside a packed bus bound for a southern Shiite city, killing 32 people.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor-director Maximilian Schell is 76. Actor David Carradine is 70. Actor James MacArthur is 69. Flutist James Galway is 67. Singer Jerry Butler is 67. Pop musician Bobby Elliott (The Hollies) is 64. Actor John Rubinstein is 60. Rock singer-musician Gregg Allman is 59. Actress Kim Basinger is 53. Rock musician Warren Cuccurullo is 50. Rock musician Phil Collen (Def Leppard) is 49. Country singer Marty Raybon is 47. Rock musician Marty Friedman is 44. Actor Wendell Pierce is 43. Actress Teri Hatcher is 42. Rapper Bushwick Bill (The Geto Boys) is 40. Singer Sinead O’Connor is 40. Actor Matthew Laborteaux is 40. Rock musician Ryan Newell (Sister Hazel) is 34. Actor Dominic Monaghan is 30. Actor Ian Somerhalder is 28.

Thought for Today: “The unknown is what it is. And to be frightened of it is what sends everybody scurrying around chasing dreams, illusions, wars, peace, love, hate, all that. Unknown is what it is. Accept that it’s unknown and it’s plain sailing.” — John Lennon (1940-1980).

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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