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Today in history: January 12

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

Today is Thursday, Jan. 12, the 12th day of 2006. There are 353 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Jan. 12, 1945, during World War Two, Soviet forces began a huge offensive against the Germans in Eastern Europe.

On this date:
In 1519, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian the First died.

In 1773, the first public museum in America was established, in Charleston, S.C.

In 1915, the U.S. House of Representatives rejected a proposal to give women the right to vote.

In 1932, Hattie W. Caraway became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate.

In 1942, President Roosevelt created the National War Labor Board.

In 1948, the Supreme Court ruled that states could not discriminate against law-school applicants because of race.

In 1964, leftist rebels in Zanzibar began their successful revolt against the government.

In 1966, President Johnson said in his State of the Union address that the U.S. should stay in South Vietnam until Communist aggression there was ended.

In 1976, mystery writer Dame Agatha Christie died in Wallingford, England, at age 85.

In 1986, the shuttle Columbia blasted off with a crew that included the first Hispanic-American in space, Dr. Franklin R. Chang-Diaz.

Ten years ago: Chechen fighters holding more than 100 hostages in the Russian village of Pervomayskaya freed about a dozen of their captives and pledged to release the rest if four top Russian officials took their place.

Five years ago: The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights concluded a two-day hearing on Florida’s presidential election, with members accusing Secretary of State Katherine Harris of presiding over a “disaster” and trying to shift blame to others. William Hewlett, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard Company, died in Palo Alto, Calif., at age 87.

One year ago: A NASA spacecraft, Deep Impact, blasted off on a mission to smash a hole in a comet and give scientists a glimpse of the frozen primordial ingredients of the solar system. (The probe smashed into Comet Tempel One on July third.) Democrat Christine Gregoire, winner of the extremely close Washington governor’s race, was inaugurated. Britain’s Prince Harry apologized after a newspaper published a photograph of the young royal wearing a Nazi uniform to a costume party.

Today’s Birthdays: Actress Luise Rainer is 96. Former South African President P.W. Botha is 90. Country singer Ray Price is 80. Singer Ruth Brown is 78. Singer Glenn Yarborough is 76. The Amazing Kreskin is 71. Country singer William Lee Golden (The Oak Ridge Boys) is 67. Former heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier is 62. Singer-musician George Duke is 60. Rock musician Cynthia Robinson (Sly and the Family Stone) is 60. Actor Anthony Andrews is 58. Movie director Wayne Wang is 57. Radio commentator Rush Limbaugh is 55. Actress Kirstie Alley is 55. Writer Walter Mosley is 54. Country singer Ricky Van Shelton is 54. Radio personality Howard Stern is 52. Rock musician Tom Ardolino (NRBQ) is 49. Broadcast journalist Christiane Amanpour is 48. Rock musician Charlie Gillingham (Counting Crows) is 46. Actor Oliver Platt is 46. Actor Olivier Martinez is 40. Rock singer Rob Zombie is 40. Rapper TBird (B-Rock and the Bizz) is 39. Model Vendela is 39. Actress Farrah Forke is 38. Rock singer Zack de la Rocha is 36. Rapper Raekwon (Wu Tang Clan) is 36. Singer Dan Haseltine (Jars of Clay) is 33. Rock musician Matt Wong (Reel Big Fish) is 33. Singer Melanie Chisholm (Spice Girls) is 32. Rhythm-and-blues singer Amerie is 26. Actor Will Rothhaar is 19. Actor Andrew Lawrence is 18.

Thought for Today: “Love is the strongest force the world possesses, and yet it is the humblest imaginable.” -- Mohandas K. Gandhi, Indian spiritual leader (1869-1948).