updated 12/8/2006 7:07:05 PM ET 2006-12-09T00:07:05

Today is Saturday, Dec. 9, the 343rd day of 2006. There are 22 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:
On Dec. 9, 1854, Alfred, Lord Tennyson's famous poem, "The Charge of the Light Brigade," was published in England.

On this date:
In 1608, English poet John Milton was born in London.

In 1892, "Widowers' Houses," George Bernard Shaw's first play, opened at the Royalty Theater in London.

In 1940, British troops opened their first major offensive in North Africa during World War II.

In 1941, China declared war on Japan, Germany and Italy.

In 1942, the Aram Khachaturian ballet "Gayane," featuring the surging "Saber Dance," was first performed by the Kirov Ballet.

In 1958, the anti-communist John Birch Society was formed in Indianapolis.

In 1965, Nikolai V. Podgorny replaced Anastas I. Mikoyan as president of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet.

In 1975, President Ford signed a $2.3 billion seasonal loan-authorization that officials of New York City and State said would prevent a city default.

In 1990, Solidarity founder Lech Walesa won Poland's presidential runoff by a landslide.

In 1992, Britain's Prince Charles and Princess Diana announced their separation. (The couple's divorce became final Aug. 28, 1996.)

Ten years ago: More than four months after the Olympic bombing, the FBI posted a $500,000 reward. The United Nations gave Iraq the go-ahead to resume oil exports for the first time since 1990 to buy food and medicine. Archaeologist and anthropologist Mary Leakey died in Kenya at age 83.

Five years ago: The United States disclosed the existence of a videotape in which Osama bin Laden said he was pleasantly surprised by the extent of damage from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Authorities confirmed the outbreak of the deadly disease Ebola in Gabon.

One year ago: President Bush, addressing a political fundraiser in Minnesota, said the United States would wage an unrelenting battle in Iraq to protect Americans at home. A congressional report said the federal government's medical response to Hurricane Katrina was bungled by a lack of supplies and poor communication.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Kirk Douglas is 90. Actress Dina Merrill is 81. Actor Dick Van Patten is 78. Actor-writer Buck Henry is 76. Actress Dame Judi Dench is 72. Actor Beau Bridges is 65. Jazz singer-musician Dan Hicks is 65. Football Hall-of-Famer Dick Butkus is 64. Actor Michael Nouri is 61. Former Sen. Thomas Daschle (news, bio, voting record), D-S.D., is 59. Singer Joan Armatrading is 56. Actor Michael Dorn is 54. Actor John Malkovich is 53. Country singer Sylvia is 50. Singer/game show host Donny Osmond is 49. Rock musician Nick Seymour (Crowded House) is 48. Actor Joe Lando is 45. Actress Felicity Huffman is 44. Country musician Jerry Hughes (Yankee Grey) is 41. Rock singer-musician Thomas Flowers (Oleander) is 39. Rock musician Brian Bell (Weezer) is 38. Rock singer-musician Jakob Dylan (Wallflowers) is 37. Actress Allison Smith is 37. Country singer David Kersh is 36. Rock musician Tre Cool (Green Day) is 34. Rapper Canibus is 32. Rock musician Eric Zamora (Save Ferris) is 30. Actor Jesse Metcalfe is 28.

Thought for Today: "In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule." — Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher (1844-1900).

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

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