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Today in History - March 9

Celebrity birthdays, highlights in history, plus more facts about this day

Today is Friday, March 9, the 68th day of 2007. There are 297 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
One hundred years ago, on March 9, 1907, Indiana’s General Assembly passed America’s first involuntary sterilization law, one that was aimed at “confirmed criminals, idiots, imbeciles, and rapists” in state custody. (More than 30 states ended up passing compulsory sterilization laws that were eventually overturned or repealed.)

On this date:
In 1661, Cardinal Jules Mazarin, the chief minister of France, died, leaving King Louis XIV in full control.

In 1796, the future emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte, married Josephine de Beauharnais. (The couple divorced in 1809.)

In 1862, during the Civil War, the ironclads Monitor and Virginia (formerly Merrimac) clashed for five hours to a draw at Hampton Roads, Va.

In 1916, Mexican raiders led by Pancho Villa attacked Columbus, N.M., killing 18 Americans.

In 1932, Eamon de Valera was elected the head of government of the Irish Free State.

In 1933, Congress, called into special session by President Roosevelt, began its 100 days of enacting New Deal legislation.

In 1945, during World War II, U.S. B-29 bombers launched incendiary bomb attacks against Japan, resulting in an estimated 100,000 deaths.

In 1954, CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow critically reviewed Wisconsin Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy’s anti-Communism campaign on an episode of “See It Now.”

In 1977, about a dozen armed Hanafi Muslims invaded three buildings in Washington, killing one person and taking more than 130 hostages. The siege ended two days later.

In 1987, Chrysler Corp. announced it had agreed to buy the financially ailing American Motors Corp.

Ten years ago: Gangsta rapper The Notorious B.I.G., whose real name was Christopher Wallace, was killed in a still-unsolved drive-by shooting in Los Angeles; he was 24.

Five years ago: Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, the 1960s black power radical formerly known as H. Rap Brown, was convicted of murder in the shooting death of a sheriff’s deputy in Atlanta. (Al-Amin was sentenced to life without parole.) The space shuttle Columbia’s astronauts released the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit after five days of repairs. Melissa Gilbert was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild, defeating challenger Valerie Harper.

One year ago: Bowing to ferocious opposition in Congress, a Dubai-owned company relinquished its quest to take over operations at U.S. ports. John Profumo, the former British Cabinet minister whose affair with a prostitute rocked Britain in 1963, died in London at age 91.

Today’s Birthdays: Singer-actress Keely Smith is 75. Singer Lloyd Price is 74. Actress Joyce Van Patten is 73. Actor-comedian Marty Ingels is 71. Country singer Mickey Gilley is 71. Singer Mark Lindsay (Paul Revere and the Raiders) is 65. ABC anchorman Charles Gibson is 64. Chess player Bobby Fischer is 64. Rock musician Robin Trower is 62. Singer Jeffrey Osborne is 59. Country musician Jimmie Fadden (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) is 59. Actress Jaime Lyn Bauer is 58. Magazine editor Michael Kinsley is 56. Actor-director Lonny Price is 48. Actress Linda Fiorentino is 47. Actress Juliette Binoche is 43. Rock musician Robert Sledge (Ben Folds Five) is 39. Rapper C-Miller (formerly C-Murder) is 36. Actor Emmanuel Lewis is 36. Actress Jean Louisa Kelly is 35. Actor Kerr Smith is 35. Rapper Chingy is 27. Actress Brittany Snow is 21. Rapper Bow Wow is 20. Actor Luis Armand Garcia is 15.

Thought for Today: “It is the nature of man to rise to greatness if greatness is expected of him.” — John Steinbeck, American author (1902-1968).