updated 12/27/2006 12:01:45 AM ET 2006-12-27T05:01:45

Today is Wednesday, Dec. 27, the 361st day of 2006. There are four days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Dec. 27, 1831, naturalist Charles Darwin set out on a round-the-world voyage aboard the HMS Beagle. (Darwin’s discoveries during the almost five-year-long journey helped to form the basis of his theories on natural selection and evolution.)

On this date:
In 1822, scientist Louis Pasteur was born in Dole, France.

In 1904, James Barrie’s play “Peter Pan: The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up” opened at the Duke of York’s Theater in London.

In 1906, American composer, musician, actor and wit Oscar Levant was born in Pittsburgh.

In 1927, the musical play “Show Boat,” with music by Jerome Kern and libretto by Oscar Hammerstein II, opened at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York.

In 1932, Radio City Music Hall opened in New York.

In 1945, 28 nations signed an agreement creating the World Bank.

In 1949, Queen Juliana of the Netherlands signed an act granting sovereignty to Indonesia after more than three centuries of Dutch rule.

In 1968, Apollo 8 and its three astronauts made a safe, nighttime splashdown in the Pacific.

In 1979, Soviet forces seized control of Afghanistan. President Hafizullah Amin, who was overthrown and executed, was replaced by Babrak Karmal.

In 1985, Palestinian guerrillas opened fire inside the Rome and Vienna airports; a total of 20 people were killed, including five of the attackers, who were slain by police and security personnel.

Ten years ago: In Belgrade, Yugoslavia, about 60,000 opposition supporters defied riot police and rallied in celebration of an international report backing their triumph over Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in recent local elections.

Five years ago: U.S. officials announced that Taliban and al-Qaida prisoners would be held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. President Bush extended permanent normal trade status to China. India and Pakistan engaged in diplomatic tit-for-tat, ordering half of each other’s embassy staffs sent home and banning overflights by each other’s national airlines.

One year ago: Grass fires burned in drought-stricken Texas and Oklahoma (over three days, nearly 200 homes were lost and the fires blamed for at least four deaths). Indonesia’s Aceh rebels formally abolished their 30-year armed struggle for independence under a peace deal born out of the 2004 tsunami.

Today’s Birthdays: Former U.S. Sen. James A. McClure, R-Idaho, is 82. Rockabilly musician Scotty Moore is 75. Western swing musician John Hughey (The Time Jumpers) is 73. Actor John Amos is 67. ABC News correspondent Cokie Roberts is 63. Singer Tracy Nelson is 62. Actor Gerard Depardieu is 58. Jazz singer-musician T.S. Monk is 57. Singer-songwriter Karla Bonoff is 55. Rock musician David Knopfler (Dire Straits) is 54. Actress Maryam D’Abo is 46. Country musician Jeff Bryant is 44. Actress Theresa Randle is 42. Actress Eva LaRue is 40. Rock musician Guthrie Govan (Asia) is 35. Musician Matt Slocum is 34. Actor Wilson Cruz is 33. Singer Olu is 33. Actress Emilie de Ravin is 25. Christian rock musician James Mead (Kutless) is 24.

Thought for Today: “Why must all the churches be closed at night? How often has the wanderer groaned in front of those closed doors?” — Paul Claudel, French author (1868-1955).

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

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