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Today in History - Dec. 19

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

Today is Tuesday, Dec. 19, the 353rd day of 2006. There are 12 days left in the year.

Today’s highlight in history
On Dec. 19, 1843, “A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens, was first published in England.

On this date
In 1777, Gen. George Washington led his army of about 11,000 men to Valley Forge, Pa., to camp for the winter.

In 1813, British forces captured Fort Niagara during the War of 1812.

In 1907, 239 workers died in a coal mine explosion in Jacobs Creek, Pa.

In 1932, the British Broadcasting Corporation began transmitting overseas with its Empire Service to Australia.

In 1946, war broke out in Indochina as troops under Ho Chi Minh launched widespread attacks against the French.

In 1972, Apollo 17 splashed down in the Pacific, winding up the Apollo program of manned lunar landings.

In 1974, Nelson A. Rockefeller was sworn in as the 41st vice president of the United States.

In 1986, Lawrence E. Walsh was appointed independent counsel to investigate the Iran-Contra affair.

In 1986, the Soviet Union announced it had freed dissident Andrei Sakharov from internal exile, and pardoned his wife, Yelena Bonner.

In 1998, President Clinton was impeached by the Republican-controlled House for perjury and obstruction of justice (he was later acquitted by the Senate).

Ten years ago
The television industry unveiled a plan to rate programs using tags such as “TV-G,” “TV-Y” and “TV-M.” The school board of Oakland, Calif., voted to recognize Black English, also known as “Ebonics,” in a decision that set off a firestorm of controversy (the board later modified its stance). Actor Marcello Mastroianni died in Paris at age 72.

Five years ago
Argentina’s president, Fernando de la Rua, decreed a state of siege as his country’s economic crisis triggered violence. The fires that had burned beneath the ruins of the World Trade Center in New York City for the previous three months were declared extinguished except for a few scattered hot spots.

One year ago
A Chalk’s Ocean Airways seaplane crashed off Miami Beach, Fla., killing 18 passengers and both pilots. President Bush forcefully defended a domestic spying program as an effective tool in disrupting terrorists and insisted it was not an abuse of Americans’ civil liberties. A video posted by an extremist group on a Web site purportedly showed the killing of American contractor Ronald Allen Schulz. Afghanistan’s first democratically elected parliament in more than three decades convened. Southern California running back Reggie Bush was named The Associated Press Player of the Year. Mob boss Vincent “The Chin” Gigante died in the federal prison in Springfield, Mo., at age 77.

Today’s Birthdays
Singer-songwriter Charlie Ryan is 91. Country singer Little Jimmy Dickens is 86. Composer-lyricist Robert Sherman (“Mary Poppins”) is 81. Actress Cicely Tyson is 73. Rhythm-and-blues singer-musician Maurice White (Earth, Wind and Fire) is 65. Actor Tim Reid is 62. Paleontologist Richard E. Leakey is 62. Rock singer Alvin Lee (Ten Years After) is 62. Actress Elaine Joyce is 61. Musician John McEuen is 61. Singer Janie Fricke is 59. Actor Mike Lookinland is 46. Actress Jennifer Beals is 43. Actor Robert McNaughton is 40. Rock musician Kevin Shepard is 38. Actress Kristy Swanson is 37. Actress Amy Locane is 35. Actress Rosa Blasi is 34. Actress Alyssa Milano is 34. Actor Jake Gyllenhaal is 26. Actress Marla Sokoloff is 26. Rapper Lady Sovereign is 21.

Thought for today
“And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!” — The closing line of “A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens (1812-1870).