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Today in history: December 9

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

Today is Friday, Dec. 9, the 343rd day of 2005. 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 1907, Christmas seals went on sale for the first time, at the Wilmington, Del., post office; proceeds went to fight tuberculosis.

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

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 1984, the five-day-old hijacking of a Kuwaiti jetliner that claimed the lives of two Americans ended as Iranian security men seized control of the plane, which was parked at Tehran airport.

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: U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume, D-Md., was chosen to become the new head of the NAACP.

Five years ago: The U.S. Supreme Court ordered a temporary halt in the Florida vote count on which Al Gore pinned his best hopes of winning the White House. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak announced he would resign and call a special election. Florida State quarterback Chris Weinke won the Heisman Trophy.

One year ago: President Bush ruled out raising taxes to finance a Social Security overhaul. President Bush announced he was keeping the heads of the Transportation, Interior, Housing and Labor departments. Canada's Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage was constitutional.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Kirk Douglas is 89. Actress Dina Merrill is 80. Actor Dick Van Patten is 77. Actor-writer Buck Henry is 75. Actress Dame Judi Dench is 71. Actor Beau Bridges is 64. Jazz singer-musician Dan Hicks is 64. Football Hall-of-Famer Dick Butkus is 63. Actor Michael Nouri is 60. Former Sen. Thomas Daschle, D-S.D., is 58. Singer Joan Armatrading is 55. Actor Michael Dorn is 53. Actor John Malkovich is 52. Country singer Sylvia is 49. Singer/game show host Donny Osmond is 48. Rock musician Nick Seymour (Crowded House) is 47. Actor Joe Lando is 44. Actress Felicity Huffman ("Desperate Housewives") is 43. Country musician Jerry Hughes (Yankee Grey) is 40. Rock singer-musician Thomas Flowers (Oleander) is 38. Rock musician Brian Bell (Weezer) is 37. Rock singer-musician Jakob Dylan (Wallflowers) is 36. Actress Allison Smith is 36. Country singer David Kersh is 35. Rock musician Tre Cool (Green Day) is 33. Rapper Canibus is 31. Rock musician Eric Zamora (Save Ferris) is 29. Actor Jesse Metcalfe ("Desperate Housewives") is 27.

Thought for Today: "All sins are attempts to fill voids." — Simone Weil, French philosopher (1909-1943).