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Today in history: December 8

Celebrity birthdays, highlights in history, plus more facts about this day
/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Thursday, Dec. 8, the 342nd day of 2005. There are 23 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:
Twenty-five years ago, on December 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 IV 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 Two 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 1978, former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir died in Jerusalem at age 80.

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

In 1987, the "intefadeh" (Arabic for uprising) by Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories began.

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: In New York, an arsonist killed seven workers and himself at a Harlem clothing store that had been the target of a racially charged lease dispute. Four months after the death of founder Jerry Garcia, The Grateful Dead announced it was breaking up after 30 years of making music.

Five years ago: A divided Florida Supreme Court ordered, four to three, an immediate hand count of about 45,000 disputed ballots and put Democrat Al Gore within 154 votes of George W. Bush.

One year ago: The Senate completed congressional approval of the biggest overhaul of U.S. intelligence in a half-century, voting 89-2 to send the measure to President Bush. Disgruntled U.S. soldiers complained to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld during a question-and-answer session in Kuwait about long deployments and a lack of armored vehicles and other equipment. Treasury Secretary John Snow accepted President Bush's offer to remain in the Cabinet. "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, 38, an influential heavy metal guitarist, was fatally shot with three other people during a performance in Columbus, Ohio; the gunman was then shot dead by a police officer.

Today's Birthdays: Movie director Richard Fleischer is 89. Actor-director Maximilian Schell is 75. Actor David Carradine is 69. Actor James MacArthur is 68. Flutist James Galway is 66. Singer Jerry Butler is 66. Pop musician Bobby Elliott (The Hollies) is 63. Actor John Rubinstein is 59. Rock singer-musician Gregg Allman is 58. Actress Kim Basinger is 52. Rock musician Warren Cuccurullo is 49. Rock musician Phil Collen (Def Leppard) is 48. Country singer Marty Raybon is 46. Rock musician Marty Friedman is 43. Actor Wendell Pierce is 42. Actress Teri Hatcher is 41. Rapper Bushwick Bill (The Geto Boys) is 39. Singer Sinead O'Connor is 39. Actor Matthew Laborteaux is 39. Rock musician Ryan Newell (Sister Hazel) is 33. Actor Dominic Monaghan is 29. Actor Ian Somerhalder is 27.

Thought for Today: "Untilled ground, however rich, will bring forth thistles and thorns; so also the mind of man." -- St. Teresa of Avila, Spanish Carmelite nun (1515-1582).