updated 1/24/2005 12:01:52 AM ET 2005-01-24T05:01:52

Today is Monday, January 24th, the 24th day of 2005. There are 341 days left in the year.

Today’s highlight in history:
On January 24th, 1848, James W. Marshall discovered a gold nugget at Sutter’s Mill in northern California, a discovery that led to the gold rush of ’49.

On this date:
In 1908, the first Boy Scout troop was organized in England by Robert Baden-Powell.

In 1924, the Russian city of St. Petersburg was renamed Leningrad in honor of the late revolutionary leader (however, it has since been re-named St. Petersburg).

In 1943, President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Churchill concluded a wartime conference in Casablanca, Morocco.

In 1965, Winston Churchill died in London at age 90.

In 1972, the Supreme Court struck down laws that denied welfare benefits to people who had resided in a state for less than a year.

In 1978, a nuclear-powered Soviet satellite plunged through Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrated, scattering radioactive debris over parts of northern Canada.

In 1985, the space shuttle “Discovery” was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on the first secret, all-military shuttle mission.

In 1989, confessed serial killer Theodore Bundy was put to death in Florida’s electric chair.

In 1993, retired Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall died in Bethesda, Maryland, at age 84.

In 2003, the new Department of Homeland Security officially opened as its head, Tom Ridge, was sworn in.

Ten years ago: President Clinton appealed for common ground as he delivered his second State of the Union address, this time before a Republican-led Congress. The prosecution gave its opening statement at the O.J. Simpson murder trial.

Five years ago: Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore posted victories in the Iowa caucuses.

One year ago: Howard Dean sharply questioned John Kerry’s judgment on Iraq as Democratic presidential rivals raced through a final weekend of campaigning before the New Hampshire primary. NASA’s Opportunity rover landed on Mars, arriving at the Red Planet exactly three weeks after its identical twin’s landing.

Today’s birthdays: Actor Ernest Borgnine is 88. Evangelist Oral Roberts is 87. Actor Marvin Kaplan (“Top Cat”) is 78. Cajun musician Doug Kershaw is 69. Singer-songwriter Ray Stevens is 66. Singer-songwriter Neil Diamond is 64. Singer Aaron Neville is 64. Actor Michael Ontkean is 59. Country singer-songwriter Becky Hobbs is 55. Comedian Yakov Smirnoff is 54. Bandleader-musician Jools Holland is 47. Actress Nastassja Kinski is 45. Country musician Keech Rainwater (Lonestar) is 42. Comedian Phil LaMarr is 38. Olympic gold-medal gymnast Mary Lou Retton is 37. Rhythm-and-blues singer Pat “Sleepy” Brown (Society of Soul) is 35. Actor Matthew Lillard is 35. Actress Merrilee McCommas is 34. Actress Tatyana Ali is 26. Actress Mischa Barton is 19.

Thought for today: “Honesty is the best policy, but he who acts on that principle is not an honest man.” -- Richard Whately, British theologian (1787-1863).

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